Local efforts to ensure Cloverdale’s brightest night of the year lights up the historic town centre in December got a boost last week from the City of Surrey as an appeal for sponsors went into overdrive.
Organizers announced the city has come through with $5,000 – money that will help cover approximately 75 per cent of the policing and traffic control costs of Surrey’s Santa Parade of Lights, a lighted Christmas parade and family favourite that draws thousands to the historic town centre.
Co-organized by the Cloverdale BIA and the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, the 2015 event was in jeopardy due to rising costs – and a budget-conscious BIA board that shelved two signature events this year – the Blueberry Festival and the Halloween Costume Parade.
A revised 2015 Cloverdale BIA budget approved in April allocated more resources to beautification projects and attracting new businesses, but members hoped to save the Santa Parade.
The BIA launched a Save the 2015 Surrey Santa Parade Campaign in an attempt to enlist businesses and individuals who would pledge sponsorships at any amount. With the deadline approaching, the campaign has shifted into high gear.
With base funding now in place, the two organizations are now reaching out for sponsors at the $500 level in order to bring decorated big rig trucks from Vancouver Island so they can join the parade once again.
In previous years, the B.C. Ferry Corporation sponsored these entries by covering travel costs, Cloverdale BIA executive director Paul Orazietti said.
The corporation has cut back, meaning the truck drivers will have to pay full rate to ride the ferry to the mainland, forcing parade organizers to turn to the business community for a solution that would bring them here.
Long-time Cloverdale resident Bruno Zappone is urging other businesses to step up in support of the Santa parade and other community events.
As a former volunteer firefighter who’s marking his 49th year with the Cloverdale Lions Club, Zappone points to his own decades of service.
Well-known for running a trucking and excavation business, Zappone is a fixture at the Lions’ barbecue grill, serving up hotdogs and hamburgers at the Cloverdale Bed Races and other community events, including the Halloween Costume Parade and the Blueberry Festival, which are among the “most major things we do around here.”
He’s dismayed at what he views as a lack of community spirit, and fears Cloverdale may lose more events if other businesses don’t get involved.
“I get really downhearted about it,” he said. “The BIA and Chamber worked hard to get these things going.”
Last week he contributed $300 to support the parade and would like to see local merchants match that amount. “They should help out more,” he said.
Zappone also thinks the city should help out more, financially, to support Cloverdale events.
Meantime, several new parade sponsors have come forward since the alarm was raised and the Cloverdale BIA is concentrating on signing up more – across the city.
“The event itself is really not a ‘Cloverdale only’ event anymore,” explained Orazietti, who added the decorated trucks have traditionally also appeared on parade day at Central City’s Big Rigs for Kids event.
“We do need more support but we’re going to put on a good parade,” he said.