Mississauga's Santa Claus Parade is leaving Streetsville - and longtime attendees are upset
The Streetsville BIA is offering a 2-day festival instead to attract more visitors to the area
Every year Lyndsay Penton brings in the holiday season by watching the colourful Streetsville Santa Claus parade as it rolls through her Mississauga neighbourhood.
But this year will be different.
The Streetsville Business Improvement Area (BIA) has announced that the long-time tradition is cancelled.
"I'm just shocked that my daughter won't be able to enjoy the parade the way I did growing up," Penton told CBC Toronto, echoing the concerns of a number of residents who are disappointed over the loss of the community celebration.
A new parade is planned to run through the nearby Erin Mills neighbourhood but residents who value the small-town feel of Streetsville fear that moving the parade will erode the community's neighbourhood spirit.
"We are losing a significant portion of what has been so great about Streetsville — the community —that village-in-the- city vibe," Penton said.
But the BIA insists it isn't doing a Scrooge. Rather, it's offering something different in the form of a two-day festival in Streetsville.
Two-day festival 'a better fit'
"We really wanted something that put Streetsville on the map as a destination for the entire weekend," Jocelyne Fleming-Clancy, general manager of the Streetsville BIA. told CBC Toronto.
"We feel that a festival model that offers something for all ages for a much longer period of time better fits not only our mandate as a business improvement organization but also the scope of the village we have here."
But Penton says it's not the same.
"It places a greater commercial value on the holiday and we'll lose a lot of the awe and wonder that kids really enjoy, that everyone enjoys," she asserted.
The Streetsville BIA partially introduced the new idea last year by shortening the parade and introducing a one-day festival that was met with criticism by some residents.
"With last year's parade being such a disappointment I thought that [Mississauga Mayor] Bonnie Crombie, the BIA and the city would really step up their game but to see this — it's really sad," Penton said.
"I did not see it coming."
Fleming-Clancy says she understands some residents' resistance to the change but she hopes they will become more receptive in time.
"We think the way it works out this year is really going to be the best of both worlds with the Erin Mills parade and the two day festival," she said.
"There is going to be a vendor market with a plethora of artisan vendors, free activities for all ages all weekend long, photos with Santa, horse and carriage rides, reindeer photos, kids crafts, mulled wines and craft beer on the village square, live entertainment and more."