Opinion: Makeshift parade just took off

By Mike Williscraft
NewsNow

The vast majority of people will be ecstatic to see 2020 in the rearview mirror…when we finally can.

I consider myself among that lot.

Many businesses are struggling through and everybody is looking to early 2021 as a make-or-break period which needs to be survived to get to greener pastures of spring/summer with – hopefully – a vaccinated society.

From my point of view, you certainly step back wonder why, if not how, to push on. We’ve had stellar support from the business community, absolutely stellar. Costs these days are the stumbling block currently, but one way or the other that will get dealt with soon.

Why so confident?

Events like Saturday’s reinvented Grimsby parade have a way of revitalizing you.

It was a couple of months ago when I got in touch with Grimsby rec services to let them know both myself (and the paper) and Grimsby Downtown Improvement Area would do anything possible if there was a way to preserve the two major traditions of the Santa Claus Parade – namely, Santa on Main Street and the firefighters doing their thing to support Grimsby Benevolent Fund.

Emails and phone calls ensued, then a solid roll-through meeting with all involved at the fire hall a few weeks ago showed the table was set….then we just didn’t know who was coming to dinner…if you know what I mean.

I remember looking around the table, everyone was optimistic, hoping things would work out.

Things we did know:

• people would be happy to get out of their houses;
• being able to get out in a safe cozy environment (their vehicle) was a plus;
• GBF (and other charities have enjoyed tremendous support over the years and we believed people would see this as a great chance to support the organization at a time of great need.

Well, the stars were aligned. Perfect weather combined with all those known factors to result in one of the most remarkable events with which I have ever been involved.

It really did feel like Field of Dreams when I stood on Main Street and shot a photo of the stream of cars as far as the eye could see down Ontario Street.

The lineup – at times – was huge but everyone knew what they were in for. Everyone took their time, and enjoyed the moment.

And what a moment it was!

Standing by Santa for a long period of time to make sure I had some good shots, I fully expected to see kids hanging out the windows, pumped to see the man in red, since this may be their only chance this holiday season.

It was pretty cool to see car after car full of adults taking in the festivities. Their smiles were every bit as wide as the youngsters in the crowd, so that was great to see.

As noted by comments in the Page 9 story, the end results were tremendous, off-the-charts incredible.

Nobody at that firehall meeting would have guessed even double for a possible result and I will have to check on the Vegas odds of triple last year’s donations but would guess about 2,000-1. We legitimately talked about being happy to come even close to a normal year’s contribution. However, as noted, it was really about stringing together the tradition of it all in such a non-traditional year.

So when I got uptown at 5 p.m. and firefighter Jeff Dancer said Elvis had already left the building….meaning we had already doubled donations before we even got to the parade portion, the rest was gravy.

And I say “we” because I like to think I do my share to help the firefighters association with everything they do – not just Grimsby but Lincoln and West Lincoln, too. I have burned a lot of $20s at the annual turkey rolls. Yes, I will miss those this year!!

This was my 25th year working with Grimsby Fire on the food drive, going back to my Grimsby Independent days. There was a couple of years when I did not get to do the food bag distribution, but that did not stop full support of the crew and their important work. I commend the volunteer firefighters and all who made the parade fly. It was awesome!

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