Like girls and boys who have had to make changes this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa is opting this season to sprinkle magic downtown over several weeks, rather than parade through the streets on one frosty day.
Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association (Downtown Kamloops) executive director Carl DeSantis said the annual Santa Claus Parade has traditionally drawn crowds in the thousands downtown.
However, with restrictions on mass gatherings to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus, the event cannot proceed this year.
As a result, Santa has been working with the KCBIA on ways to bring the holiday spirit safely to the streets of Kamloops. After all, Santa doesn’t want to make Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s naughty list.
DeSantis said effort that typically goes into creating parade floats will instead go into decorating downtown storefronts and blocks, with the intention of creating a Storybook Village.
The area will be decked out more lavishly than years past and each block will have a different theme. For example, the 100-block of Victoria Street will be centred around Buddy the Elf. Expect to see lights, ornaments, characters, music and window paint.
“Businesses in that area are going to support with window decorations,” DeSantis said. “Various aspects of that story, including Santa’s Workshop, will be there.”
More than 30 businesses/organizations — and counting — have committed so far, including the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and Lansdowne Village.
Decorations will be visible along Victoria Street from First Avenue to at least Sixth Avenue and DeSantis said the initiative will carry on throughout the core to the extent businesses show interest. DeSantis said Thompson Rivers University and the BC Wildlife Park are supporting the initiative.
Residents will be able take a walk downtown or a drive through the blocks at night, when the area will be lit up.
As for kids hoping to catch a glimpse of the man in the red suit, DeSantis said the KCBIA continues to work on details for a virtual visit with Santa Claus at Santa’s Workshop. Kids can rest assured Santa is still coming to town.
“Boy, there’s a lot of Santa conversations,” DeSantis said. “He was just in our office yesterday. It’s a whole new world, this virtual relationship we’ve got. We’re looking at Santa’s Workshop or village, which will be set up in Tri City in the 100-block. We don’t have all the details, but there will be an opportunity for kids to communicate with Santa Claus there.”
The KCBIA will post a map of participating businesses on its website at downtownkamloops.com and will and publish through the media what stories they can find and expect at which businesses.
DeSantis said decorations will be visible during the day, but lights will be more impactful at dusk or dark.
DeSantis said downtown businesses interested in getting involved in the storybook village can contact Samantha Desouza or Christine Beaton at the KCBIA office, which can be reached by calling 250-372-3242.
The KCBIA is also seeking to borrow decorations from those who had floats in past parades. The Storybook Village is set to open in the third week of November and remain open until after Christmas.
“We’re hoping, instead of a one-day event, to continue this for three or four weeks,” DeSantis said.