The Cloverdale Business Improvement Association has launched an appeal to save one of its largest community events, Surrey’s Santa Parade of Lights.
For the past two years, the association has had to drum up thousands of dollars in sponsorships to cover costs of the annual Christmas parade, a celebration that lights up the historic town centre each December, drawing thousands of spectators and setting the stage for the holiday season.
The event culminates with the arrival of Santa Claus, along with a lighted procession of trucks from Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley.
As the parade has grown in scale, security and traffic control costs have soared.
But this year, the association – which promotes the historic town centre as a business district on behalf of about 300 member businesses – was forced to shelve two of its signature events, the Cloverdale Blueberry Festival in August and the annual Halloween Costume Parade, citing budget constraints.
In April, the Cloverdale BIA board of directors approved a revised budget that allocates more resources to beautification projects and attracting new businesses.
The budget-conscious association is now galvanizing efforts to save the Santa parade. Executive director Paul Orazietti said the move is based on results of a recent membership survey that asked respondents to rank events it co-sponsors such as the Santa parade and the blueberry festival in terms of priority.
With about 15 per cent reporting back from the online survey, the Cloverdale BIA board has decided to act.
“The two most sacred events that they want to support are the Rodeo parade and the Santa parade,” Orazietti said. “Being very mindful of dollars, we believe this is something we can support with limited manpower.”
The Save the 2015 Surrey Santa Parade campaign is a fundraising drive that businesses and individuals can support by sponsoring anywhere from $1 to $1,000.
Orazietti also hopes people will also share personal photos from the Santa Parade on social media, using the hashtag #SaveTheSurreySantaParade as a way to celebrate positive feelings surrounding the community event.
Meantime, the Cloverdale BIA is also approaching other Surrey BIAs to help out. “There should be some increased cost sharing,” he said, pointing to Central City’s Big Rigs for Kids, which coincides with Surrey’s Santa Parade of Lights and features the same convoy of lighted trucks that collect donations for the Surrey Food Bank and Surrey Christmas Bureau.
Orazietti would like to see the Surrey Santa Parade boost efforts to support the Surrey Food Bank, by discussing the creation of a potential fund to allow them to purchase to get a portable power back-up system.
“Since we’re lighting up Surrey, we want to light up the food bank,” he said.
“We want to reach out to communities to see how we can do this in a meaningful way. So that the parade is more than just waving at Santa. It takes it to another level.”
Orazietti said some key support has already been forthcoming from the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Association, along with other donors at the $500 level.
“We will now ask people to participate in whatever manner possible.”
The BIA is looking at adding more activities during the day of the parade, to make it a community day. “That’s really what our previous blueberry festival was about – giving people a reason to come down.”
For more information call 604-576-3155.