Thousands fill the streets in the center to return to the Holiday Parade of Lights

Judging by the audience attendance for Saturday night’s SaltWire Holiday Parade of Lights in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotians are ready to celebrate together again in style.

In the hours before the floats meandered decorated vehicles, marchers and mascots made their way through the city streets from the naval yards to Dalhousie University, participants headed toward the center to find a rare parking space, grab a bite and find an optimal vantage point.

With many in the crowd cultivating some form of Christmas blush, from traditional Santa hats and reindeer antlers to necklaces made of flashing colored lights, the evening was a textbook example of perfect timing, sandwiched between days of rain the week before the parade and fierce storms that expected to begin on Monday.

The event was also an incentive for concert-goers to the all-star SuperNova Celebration at the Scotiabank Center to arrive early to take the parade before enjoying the first major arena show since the start of the pandemic with performances by Classified, the Trews, Matt Andersen , Reeny Smith and many more East Coast talents.

“It’s exciting to be out, it feels a little more normal, and it feels like Christmas. It’s nice to see our friends and family, ”said Halifax mother Amanda Tobin, who came early to the center to find a seat near the start of the parade route and have a picnic before the show with her three daughters and a bunch of nieces and nephews.

“They’m excited, they’re excited to see Santa Claus, and they missed the last year. They’m excited to return to some old traditions, this is starting the season for us as a family, and it’s just nice to be there, too. “It’s still nice outside before the storm comes this week.”

Honorary parade marshal Dr.  Lisa Barrett waves to the audience during the SaltWire Holiday Parade of Lights on Saturday, November 20, 2021. - Ryan Taplin
Honorary parade marshal Dr. Lisa Barrett waves to the audience during the SaltWire Holiday Parade of Lights on Saturday, November 20, 2021. – Ryan Taplin

Since nearly 81 percent of eligible Nova Scotians had received a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, it was appropriate to have leading Dalhousie University infectious disease expert Dr. Lisa Barrett as the parade’s grand marshal, in recognition of the work she and her team have done over the past 20 months.

Robust up in the back of a convertible waved a masked Dr. Barrett to the crowds along the streets, while volunteers handed out free quick COVID tests to take home.

“Sorry, no such thing this year, ho, ho, ho!” roared one of the happy medical assistants, as his hand reached out from the crowd to eagerly receive the plastic-packed sets.
The “Mask Up, Halifax” announcement, which was part of the Parade of Lights promotion, seemed to be widely embraced, as it looked like about 75 percent of attendees wore their masks during the event. .

“It’s fun even though we do not have any children that we still like to get out every year,” Haligonian Alan Isnor said as he watched the parade with his wife Dawn and their calico cat Coco in a decorated stroller. “It feels good to go out and see all these people, hopefully most people here have both received their vaccinations, and from what I see, most people wear their masks, so I do not feel unsafe or anything.

“It’s nice to get out and enjoy it.”

The first round of applause came to the Nova Scotia Baton Club, as it is not really a parade without some relay twirlers, and cheers greeted the military marching band dressed in camouflage as they marched in time with their own drummer. A Neptune Theater float featured Ebenezer Scrooge from the upcoming production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, with the crooked miser who brought his famous brand of anti-holiday cheers: “Let me hear it when you count three … one, two, three … BAH HUMBUG! ”

There were also opportunities to consider Christmas as a season to give with a truck from Feed Nova Scotia that received bags of canned goods and volunteers with Cineplex Toy Drive that took stuffed animals and Lego sets from attendees like Dartmouth resident Holly Gillis, who brought two large bags of treats for children.

“I think it’s great to share what we can through the season and spread the love and generosity around,” said Gillis, who also brought her twin daughters Georgia and Rori.

“We participate through Adopt-a-Family, and we brought this toy today.”

Downtown Maya Varrier marveled at sights such as the colorful array of Hal-Con sci-fi convention cosplay enthusiasts and the snowflake-decorated Melissa Connick School of Dance students riding a Virginia roll down the middle Barrington Street.

Not only was it her first Parade of Lights, it was her first time she experienced a Christmas parade, and she was grateful that she was in the neighborhood to see it.

Santa Waving to the Audience at the SaltWire Holiday Parade of Lights Saturday, November 20, 2021. - Ryan Taplin
Santa Waving to the Audience at the SaltWire Holiday Parade of Lights Saturday, November 20, 2021. – Ryan Taplin

“I did not know what to expect, but it’s actually very nice,” Varrier said. “I just walked by and saw the crowd and asked around and they said it was the Parade of Lights Christmas parade and I wanted to check it out.

“I like the atmosphere, it’s a great way to start the season on such a good night.”

As the 45-minute procession was coming to an end, the big moment came with Santa Claus on his sleigh, which stood for the grand finale. The children on the curb shouted his name in celebration and preparation for the coming Christmas season.

Broadcast live on Eastlink TV, the SaltWire Holiday Parade of Lights airs on Saturdays from 4pm until Christmas, and can also be viewed via Eastlink On Demand.

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