The holidays are just around the corner and the town of Thorold is definitely prepared. On November 30, Thorold held their 23rd annual Thorold Santa Claus Parade. The parade started on route by Monsignor Clancy School and headed down east on Sullivan Avenue, finishing on Front St in downtown Thorold. Beginning at 4:00 p.m, with over 60 entries, Santa Clause and the floats paraded down the streets of Thorold for hundreds of families, teenagers and children to watch.
Every year, the parade includes some charitable activities. This year, spectators of the parade were asked to bring non-perishable food items to fill a nine foot tall Shopper Chopper Cart which was collected by the Thorold Community Activities Group and Thorold Blackhawks. On top of that, Walker Brother industries, a dynamic and diversified company that has been in Thorold since 1887, were seen at the parade collecting unused toys for children. The Thorold Community Credit Union, Fulton Fitness and the Downtown Health Club for Women were collecting new socks for the “socksforsanta.com” campaign benefitting ‘Out of the Cold Niagara.
Socksforsanta.com is currently active in Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo. Socksforsanta.com, a drive that contributes to the Out of the Cold Niagara campaign, started about 10 years ago by a man named John Fulton of Fulton Fitness. Fulton has been involved in other charitable benefits for years before starting this one, such as Surfing Santa. About 10 years ago, Fulton and his family decided that instead of filling up stockings for the kids and the rest of the family, they would deliver packages of care items to the homeless on Christmas Day. They would stuff backpacks with items such as hoodies, gloves, hats, sweatpants, socks, energy bars, toiletries and drinks. One thing Fulton found that people really wanted and needed over the holiday season were warm socks. By reaching out to one of many Out of the Cold programs that provides warm clothing and shelter to the homeless, Fulton and Pastor Bill from the Silver Spire Church on St. Paul street in St. Catharines were able to start a program that has now turned into an annual tradition.
The goal this year was to collect 1000 pairs of socks and before the parade even started they had already come close to reaching the goal. With McGregor socks donating 650 socks already, the campaign definitely had no problem reaching their goal. Socks were also collected on the parade route. Anyone who was willing to donate was more than welcome to visit the named locations and to bring their warm socks to hang on the sock trees or to purchase the socks at Fulton Fitness, Downtown Health Club for Women, Thorold Credit Union, Mahtay Cafe and Start Me Up Niagara.
The ‘Out of the Cold’ Niagara program is also a great initiative that played a large role in this year’s parade. The program is basically a group of host churches in partnerships with community groups around town who provide a hot meal and an overnight shelter for those in need. The doors are open for this program at the churches at 6:00 pm every night from Nov 1 all the way to March 31. Out of the Cold Niagara is a non profit charity that has been providing companionship and necessities to the homeless for years.
Thorold Tourism is the organization that organized this parade, and has done so every year. Without the help of Len Ferry, Parade Chair, Terry Dow, the vice chair and members Jeanette DeRose, Kerby Ker, Lucy Cino along with the help of volunteers Greg Dow Bruce, Timms Nick Felice, Roger Allan, Sam Sauriol, Sydney Sauriol, Nick Dellomo, Jen Ferry and Sam Cino, this parade would not have run as smoothly as it did.
Along with 74 entries, including numerous bands, local schools and various other community groups, there were quite a few things to look out for at the parade. This year, they had fireworks leading Santa down the parade route. There was also one entry that paid tribute to a community member whose dream was to always be in a parade. Unfortunately, she passed away five years ago from cancer but that didn’t stop her dream from living on. Her son has entered a float for her for the past five years in his mom’s memory – the Thorold Community Credit Union Float.
This year, the parade will also be holding the Light Up Thorold contest, a contest that has been around for five years now. The contest is a fun way of getting the community involved in some Christmas cheer. The contest awards cash prizes for the best decorated business and to the top three best decorated homes on the day of judging. The requirements of the contest are simple – the homes and businesses that want to be involved must be along the Thorold Santa Claus parade route. One of the biggest things that the judges are looking for is creativity. Winners are contacted in early December to claim their prizes. The judging for the contest took place on Nov. 28. Terry Dow, vice chair, said, “The committee had so much fun on judging night – it’s very competitive and more and more houses and businesses participate every year. Winners will be announced soon.”
Dow also mentioned, “I would like to add that Todd Marr, owner of Thorold Foodland, is our Parade Marshall this year. Todd gives back to the community in so many ways and for so many years he has donated to local non-profit organizations. We would like to thank him for that in the most special way and were intrigued before the parade to see what he would be riding during the parade – fantastic!”
With the beautiful weather outside and the snow on the ground, the parade was a success. Many lined up outside their homes and down the streets to watch the floats parade by and continued to the Thorold Firehall afterwards on Towpath to meet Santa himself. Free refreshments and treats were provided for everyone to enjoy.
If anyone is interested in starting their own socksforsanta.com drive, they are encouraged to contact Fulton at 905-932-7873.