Parade of Lights revival a miracle on Dundas Street

Last week’s front page of the Napanee Beaver jumped the gun, declaring the Town of Greater Napanee’s Parade of Lights had been cancelled for 2021.

As of deadline last Tuesday, Santa’s sleigh was in fact grounded. Much like the story of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer however, a bright light emerged from the blizzard and Santa will be visiting Greater Napanee the first Saturday of December after all. Unbeknown to this reporter at the time, the matter would come up at council just hours after last week’s deadline. Rather unexpectedly, deputy mayor Max Kaiser made the suggestion that the town find a way to make the parade happen. He had the full support of council behind him and a large portion of the residents of the town support the idea as well.

The original suggestion to cancel the parade was defensible. With so much uncertainty around the ever-evolving COVID-19 guidelines, the easiest thing to do is just cancel the parade, as was done last year. This was also the advice the province was giving at the time and with all the work that goes on behind the scene to make the parade happen, waiting until the last minute to green light the event isn’t an option. Being extra cautious isn’t always the popular choice, but as much as all hate to admit it, there is still a pandemic going on.

On the other hand, just because something is easy doesn’t mean it’s the right decision. As was pointed out several times when the news first broke, the reasoning behind cancelling an outdoor parade when fans were allowed to pack inside an indoor hockey arena-albeit with COVID-19 safety measures in place-didn’t really add up. Fortunately the province has since walked back some of their suggestions and outdoor gatherings are no longer frowned upon.

And so the Parade of Lights is now looking a go, set for Dec. 4. The town will have some involvement, but for the most part it’ll be community volunteers who take the lead. As Kaiser pointed out, even if the town didn’t authorize an official parade, residents were almost certainly going to put one on anyway. He would know as something very similar happened last year, when a cavalcade of tractors all aglow in Christmas lights just so happen to roll through the downtown core. The gesture was well received for the most part, though there was some who felt it unfair that this particular event got to happen while theirs did not. This time around hopefully all local groups will get to take part. This year’s event will likely be smaller than pre-COVID parades, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

If the end result is a grass routes parade with a focus on local with plenty of holiday cheer, that should be considered nothing but a success.

-Adam Prudhomme

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