'Something the community wanted': Christmas parade returns to O'Leary

Santa Claus is scheduled to make an appearance Sunday as a Christmas parade returns to the streets of O'Leary, P.E.I., for the first time in years.

'Christmas was really the big push, and that was back in April," says recreation co-ordinator

The parade will start at 4 p.m. on Sunday. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

It's been a while since Santa Claus paid a visit to O'Leary, P.E.I. 

Andrew Avery, recreation co-ordinator for the town, said it's been more than a decade since O'Leary has had a Christmas parade.

But this year the parade, set for Sunday afternoon, is returning and bringing the big guy back to town.

"He's ready to go," said Avery. "We had to check in there to make sure the weather wasn't going to play a factor with him. But he's definitely going to be part of the parade.

"The man's got a busy month ahead of him. We're very glad he could make it into O'Leary for the weekend."

When Avery started as recreation co-ordinator in April, he immediately started asking the community about what they'd like to see. He expected a lot of things, but requests for the return of the Christmas parade was not one of them. 

"I never in a million years thought that would be the first thing I'd be asked for whenever I started this position," said Avery. 

It wasn't just one or two people.

"Christmas was really the big push, and that was back in April," he said. "It was kind of eye-opening to see people want to talk about it right away."

Originally scheduled for Saturday, weather forced it to Sunday.

The parade starts at 4 p.m. on Gaspe Road and then head down Main Street. After the parade, the town will hold a tree-lighting ceremony and have a place for children to drop off letters for Santa.

Avery said he expects there will be about 15 floats in the parade.

The official announcement that the Christmas parade was returning was made on Nov. 1 on the O'Leary Recreation Facebook page and was shared over 100 times. 

Andrew Avery says he never expected that a Christmas parade would be one of the most requested items from residents when he started his job in April (Submitted by Andrew Avery)

Avery said this really shows the passion the residents of O'Leary and surrounding area have for their community, and with this kind of a response and demand for the parade this year, Avery is confident the parade will return next year. 

"They would love to see this happen every year and grow a little bigger," he said. 

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