Nova Scotia

Candy Cane Lane Festival replacing Yarmouth's Christmas parade

The event's director came up with the idea to hold a festival instead of a parade after a 4-year-old girl was killed in an accident involving a float last year. The event is scheduled for Nov. 23.

There will be floats at Nov. 23rd event, but they will be parked, organizer says

Frost Park in Yarmouth, N.S., lit up during the Christmas season in 2018. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

The Town of Yarmouth will be having a Christmas festival instead of a Christmas parade in 2019.

Barbara Firth, president of the Candy Cane Lane Festival association, proposed the idea to town council after a 4-year-old girl died during last year's parade. 

"Last year, it was a terrible, terrible tragedy — a horrible accident and it's not something we should ever or will ever forget," said Firth, who had been parade director for 18 years.

"Our town is broken and we need to heal and come together. After the parade, it was very hard for me to envision doing another parade."

Candy Cane Lane Festival Nov. 23

Firth said when she thought about doing a festival, she bounced the idea off of a friend who encouraged her to take the idea to the town.

The town approved Firth's proposal in August. Mayor Pam Mood said it was a unanimous decision.

"I think it's absolutely wonderful, the festival over the parade," said Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood. "It just gives so many people the opportunity to stay and linger and hang out downtown."

The free festival is scheduled to take place on Main Street from Frost Park to Forest Street in downtown Yarmouth on Saturday, Nov. 23 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Local businesses are taking part, offering things like treats, hot beverages and goods for those who want to do some Christmas shopping.

Parked floats for better photos, safety

There will be floats — but they will be parked so people can walk around and enjoy them up close, safely.

Another advantage of parking the floats, Firth said, is people will have a better chance to take photos.

"I know that people put hours and weeks into the work of their floats and just to have them go by quickly, really, you don't get to see everything that's on the float so this will help with that," she said.

"Plus, all the people involved in the festival itself will actually get to see the rest of the festival which is great because when you're in the parade, you're in one spot and that's where you stay and you never get to see anything else."

As for Santa, he will be making an appearance at the festival too — and attendees will have a chance to get closer to him than they would have during the parade, Firth said.

Memorial candy canes

The reason the festival is called Candy Cane Lane, Firth said, is because years ago, Yarmouth used to have the sweet treats on the poles downtown.

"We had these huge candy canes, they were absolutely beautiful and they were all lit up so you could drive through town and you would drive through town and you would be driving through Candy Cane Lane," she said.

This year, Firth said they will be making candy canes out of wood and each one will be sponsored by local people to memorialize a loved one.

Firth said that idea came about after talking to Sandy Dennis, a town councillor, about Candy Cane Lane.

Dennis passed away this year and Firth said the candy cane idea "would be in her memory."

Yarmouth isn't the only community taking a different approach to its Christmas parade in 2019.

Last week, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality decided to ban nighttime parades over safety concerns.

About the Author

Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.


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