One of the 53 floats in the North Dundas Parade of Lights was from the Dundas Dairy Producers and provided a reminder of the agricultural heritage of our local area.  Thompson Goddard Photo

WINCHESTER – The organizers of the North Dundas Parade of Lights put together a memorable experience for participants and spectators alike.

While the Parade of Lights itself began just after 7 p.m. starting at the parking lot of the municipal building and travelling throughout the villages of Winchester to end at the Sam Ault Arena, there was plenty of activity in all parts of North Dundas.

The Rotary Club of Chesterville held their annual Breakfast with Santa in the hall of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 434 in Chesterville and in South Mountain Agricultural Hall, North Dundas Fire Station #2 held their annual Santa Claus Breakfast. Both events featured a visit from Santa, craft tables and a delicious breakfast.

A Parade of Lights Vendor and Trade Fair was held in the Joel Steele Community Hall and featured about 30 vendors with a wonderful selection of gift ideas for people of all ages. The successful event was organized by Cheryl Beasley of Simply Baked Catering and collected donations for Community Food Share.

For the youngsters of all ages, the Old Town Hall had several activities including a cookie making station with the opportunity to make a Christmas ornament provided by the Dreaming Heart Art Studio, a puppet show featuring Rock the Arts Puppets, and a magic show with Magical Martin.  Having worked up an appetite the Lions Club Parade Supper was held at the Winchester Presbyterian Church and Royal Canadian Legion Branch 108 in Winchester served up chili as well as hot dog to enjoy.

And then there was the parade itself.  There was a palpable feeling of excitement and holiday spirit as the parade passed by spectators along the route.  From the costumed characters to the lighted holiday floats and the sounds of the North Dundas District High School band playing holiday tunes, one could not help but get almost overwhelmed by the experience. There was a round of Merry Christmas called out as Santa arrived atop a North Dundas fire vehicle and with a wave of his hand the excitement was experienced by one and old.

Sandy Burns, who with Brianne Scott and Matthew Roy organized the successful event, commented there was no overall theme to the parade. She explained there are no themes for the parade as the organizers wish to “allows our float participants to express their creativity in whatever way they want:” and noted there were 53 floats in total.  A poll on their website provides spectators with the opportunity to choose their favourite float in six categories: Best Overall, Best Business, Best Non-Profit, Best Agricultural Float, Most Lights, and People’s Choice. The poll closes the weekend following the event with the winners announced afterwards.

“This event is as successful as it is every year in large part because of the volunteers who help us. This year, we needed extra volunteers because of the new end point at the arena. We had 10 volunteers helping us this year,” said Burns. She thanked the Township of North Dundas for their assistance in organizing the parade, continuing how “They helped us organize the rolling road closure, getting set up to end the parade at the arena for the first time, along with numerous other details that go into making this parade possible. We would also like to thank all the float participants. Without them, this parade wouldn’t be what it is.”

“Every year, I’m amazed at the creativity that goes into the floats. The people who come out year after year, and the new floats we see every year, are absolutely wonderful. Seeing the parade come together and how much joy it brings to the community is what makes it all worthwhile for us,” commented Burns.