By Joanne McDonald
The call is out for volunteers to ensure Santa Claus returns to Smithville this year.
In a closed meeting Monday, West Lincoln Council accepted the resignation of the Christmas in the Village (Santa Claus
Mayor Dave Bylsma cited fatigue on the part of the former committee members who worked hard for many years to plan the annual event.
“Dave Willis was the driving force and there was just a general fatigue. Many were long-term members,” Bylsma said, thanking the committee, the many family and friends, who worked alongside the long-time parade chair.
Last Nov. 30 marked the first parade since Willis’ sudden death Sept. 3. His daughter, Kim Fisher, took over organizing the event and Willis’ legacy was remembered in many parade floats and signs with red and green worn by parade-goers lining the route.
A decades-long chair of the Santa Claus Parade, Willis was always giving back where he was needed in his community, each year putting his heart into the parade, known fondly as the “biggest small town parade around.”
The committee has operated under the auspices of the Township since around 2011 for insurance purposes. “Dave did a great job, fantastic work for many years before and after that,” Bylsma said.
He said the Township has maintained a good relationship with members of the committee who have stepped down and is committed to finding new leadership to take over the reins. The Township will also take an active role.
“Council has to move quickly because bands and floats are booking now for the parade that will take place the last Saturday in November. We don’t want to lose time and are looking for hardworking volunteers who can contribute,” Bylsma said.
Those interested in becoming a committee member are asked to contact the Township office.