Clear skies and not-too-chilly temperatures Sunday helped bring out a record turnout for this year’s Surrey Santa’s Parade of Lights.
Organizers say the crowds were five-people deep throughout the parade route in the historic Cloverdale town centre – and beyond – putting attendance through the roof.
Local RCMP put the crowd count at about 25,000, which is at least 4,000 more spectators than last year, according to Bill Reid, executive director of the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce, which co-organizes the annual evening parade along with the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association.
“It was kind of hectic, but it was beautiful though,” Reid said Monday. “It was a perfect night. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.”
The cold but-not-too-cold Dec. 4 temperatures also helped draw hundreds of young families out to watch the evening event, even those with very small children and babies, who seemed delighted by the parade of lights.
“It was a very pleasant night,” Reid said.
A free late afternoon movie at the Clova Cinema, courtesy of Jim and Stephen Gammer’s client family appreciation event, which presented holiday-favourite Christmas with the Kranks, also helped draw families into the town centre on Sunday. The movie got out just before the parade started, and movie-goers chose to stick around for that, too.
Many of those who found parking at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre, at 62 Ave. and 176 St., chose to stay put, watching from the sidelines at the parade’s staging area, helping boost attendance figures.
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts was this year’s parade marshal, riding in the first car of the procession – a white 1959 Cadillac convertible.
The large turnout created some parking headaches for some.
The TV production crew filming on location in Cloverdale this week took up about three-quarters of the old Cloverdale Mall parking lot (between the bypass and 175 Street and 57 Ave. and 58 Ave.), forcing some to be creative with their parking plans.
“It didn’t create any major issue,” Reid said. “People found places to park. For the two hours, it didn’t create a problem anywhere. We’ve had no complaints.”
There were close to 100 parade entries in this year’s parade, including 14 big rig trucks from Vancouver Island, plus another dozen from the Lower Mainland.
Participants also included local sports teams and clubs, churches, the Rotary Club of Cloverdale, the Surrey Square Wheelers Square Dance Club, Cloverdale Scouts and Guides, Newton girls softball team, Shell and Francie Busey, Ronald McDonald, kids in their race cars, horses, and of course Santa himself, riding in a sleigh pulled by two light-festooned reindeer.