Cloverdale on parade

Thousands expected at the 2011 Surrey's Santa Parade of Lights in Cloverdale this Sunday.

Surrey's Santa Parade of Lights.

It’s without a doubt the brightest, cheeriest way to get caught up in the spirit of the season.

Surrey’s Santa Parade of Lights draws thousands of spectators into downtown Cloverdale each year to enjoy the festive atmosphere, thrilling kids and parents alike with dozens of lit up floats and parade entries, plus special guests, including Big Rigs for Kids, featuring local trucks and a convoy from the Island Equipment Owners Association.

The parade takes place in the early evening, but it’s traditional all the way, with antique vehicles, service and sports clubs, churches, dignitaries and local businesses.

Ronald McDonald is also joining the parade this year, his first Christmas appearance in Cloverdale.

 That, plus stock cars, a vintage sight-seeing coach, local Girl Guides and Scouts, softball teams and Shell Busey the home handyman expert, and the Surrey Square Wheelers, the long-running square dancing club.

As many as 12,000 visitors take in the parade each year, which is about the maximum unless there’s a route expansion, something not easily done.

“The route’s pretty heavily concentrated,” says Paul Orazietti, executive director of the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association, which co-organizes the parade along with the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce.

In other words, if you want a good viewing spot, be sure to come out early.

“The event continues to grow,” says Orazietti. “We are getting entries from as far away as Chilliwack. There’s a variety of people who are ‘into’ lit-up parades and want to come here.”

The parade begins at 5 p.m.,  starting from the Cloverdale Fairgrounds parking lot at 60 Avenue and through the historic town centre, heading down 176A Street before winding west along 176 Street via 58A Avenue.

Parade organizers encourage spectators to bring along a non-perishable food item or unwrapped toy to donate for the Surrey Food Bank and the Surrey Christmas Bureau.

Santa’s elves will be roving around collecting donations along the parade route. There will also be donation boxes set up.

When Santa, the man of the hour, arrives, he’ll help light up the town centre Christmas Tree on 176 Street at Hawthorne Square.

There will be charity barbecues and food, plus music in the town square. BC Hydro will have a display on Smart lighting, and are also entering a float in the parade.

For more information, visit www.cloverdalebia.com or contact the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association at 604-576-3155 or the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce at 604-574-9802.

The long list of Santa’s helpers includes the Surrey RCMP’s District 4 community police station, Surrey Crime Prevention Society, the Cloverdale Lodge of the Freemasons, who install the Christmas tree atop the Dale Building; the Cloverdale Learning Centre and Put Kids First and the Clover Valley Family Resource Centre who host an open house during the parade, plus the Cloverdale Lions, the Rotary Club of Cloverdale, the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Association, Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino and more.

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