Sponsors help out Surrey’s Santa Parade of Lights

The upcoming lighted Christmas parade on Dec. 8 in Cloverdale is poised to be one of the largest ever, organizers say.

The big rigs will be back for the Santa Parade of Lights in Cloverdale.

A highlight of Surrey’s Santa Parade of Lights in Cloverdale has been rescued by new sponsors, but organizers say the event needs more sponsors to come on board as costs of putting on a signature event rise along with its growing popularity.

The evening Christmas parade of floats, vehicles, antique cars, horses, marching units winds its way through the historic town centre, culminating in the arrival of Santa Claus and a dazzling lighted procession of big rig trucks from Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley.

With an estimated 13,000-plus people turning out, 2012 was a banner year for the spectacle, a favourite with families. The upcoming parade on Dec. 8 is poised to be one of the largest ever in terms of scope.

Ferry transportation costs of the Island Equipment Owners Association have traditionally been borne by B.C. Ferries, said Paul Orazietti, executive director of the Cloverdale BIA, which co-organizes the parade with the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce.

“Unfortunately, this year, we have been forced to pick up additional costs,” Orazietti said, explaining the ferry costs represented about $7,000 in unexpected budget expenses.

When sponsors were approached for $500 contributions, they readily answered the call, securing 12 Vancouver Island big rigs from the Island Equipment Owners Association to join the lighted truck convoy.

“Within a week and a half, a number of local businesses in the area all donated $500 a pop to allow us to bring 12 of these vehicles,” he said. “It’s nothing short of amazing.”

On Sunday, Dec. 8 the convoy starts out in Cloverdale and continues to Holland Park for Central City Big Rigs for Kids.

The next step for Surrey’s Santa Parade of Lights in Cloverdale is to cover additional costs for traffic control and policing, which have also risen, only partly as a result of the growing size of the parade.

“The city wants to ensure maximum safety and are avoiding use of volunteers,” he explained, adding he is hopeful Surrey City Hall will agree to cover those costs, but the request will have to go to council for consideration.

As of Monday, there was less of a sense of urgency.

“I think the city is looking to help us out,” Orazietti said.

“The big push now is for people to bring donations and charitable items” for the Surrey Food Bank and Surrey Christmas Bureau. “The show is looking solid,” he said. An estimated 85 to 100 vehicles and floats are taking part, along with 700 to 800 individuals.

“It’s bordering on being the largest we’ve ever done, and we want to make sure it’s meaningful in terms of donations of food and gifts.”

The parade starts at 5 p.m. from the Cloverdale Fairgrounds parking lot and will make its way to 176 Street via 60 Avenue to 177B Street. Then it goes south on 177B Street, and right on 58 Avenue to 176 Street and then heads south to 56A Avenue.

“It is without a doubt one of the most talked-about parades in the valley,” he said. “It’s not quite like Vancouver’s [Santa Claus Parade], but it’s truly becoming a popular, well-attended event”

For more information on how to donate, volunteer or find out more, visit www.cloverdale.bc.ca or www.cloverdalebia.com or call (604) 574-9802 or (604) 576-3155.

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