Super Santa Run

River Lights officially opened after one-day rain delay




By Jolene Perron


What started out as a way to attract visitors to the downtown core during the slowest time of the year, has grown into an all encompassing festival with layers of economic involvement and holiday spirit.

“River Lights is so important for many reasons,” explained River Lights coordinator Sarah Van Grinsven. “One, community spirit.  River Lights brings people out of hibernation and enjoying the holiday season with their fellow citizens. Two, community partnership. So many groups work together to make River Lights work, from museums, galleries to other not-for-profits. And of course the sponsors who show they care through in kind and cash sponsorships. Three, economic development. The more action in the streets, the more in our downtown businesses.”

Ajay McGowan (right), Ryleigh Labutte (centre) and Colton Labutte (left) get an up-close look at the lights during the opening ceremony for the River Lights Winter Festival last Sunday night.

The opening weekend of the festival included the Super Santa Run, which was held Nov. 18 as planned despite the rain. The outdoor holiday movie and municipal tree lighting were rescheduled to Nov. 19, which turned out to be a much drier evening. Van Grinsven called the festival a “magical event” because of how it spreads joy to all those who visit and how it brings the community together. Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo echoed those thoughts and feelings.

Town crier Frank Gorham welcomes the crowd to the River Lights opening ceremony.

“People love the event,” said DiCarlo. “It’s family friendly and seems to have become Amherstburg’s official launch of the holiday season. I’ve also heard from visitors who come from outside the region for the event. Every year we add more to see and do, and clearly this is translating to the people who look forward to the event. Personally, my family has been attending since the first year, and we still look forward to it, especially when it’s not as cold.”

The municipal tree is lit at the Richmond Street entrance of the King’s Navy Yard park for the first time Nov. 19 during the opening ceremony of the River Lights Winter Festival.

The festival also includes the lights and displays around the Town of Amherstburg, as well as the gingerbread warming house, which will also be open in Toddy Jones Park every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. until Christmas.

Free carriage rides will be available Dec. 2, 9 and 15, and the Holiday House Tours will also take place next week, Nov. 25 and 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit

Crowd of soggy Santas run in rain through downtown streets



By Jolene Perron


The Holiday Spirit has enveloped Amherstburg, despite the rain, and the Super Santa Run has brought hundreds of “Santa’s” to the core Saturday evening.

“It didn’t matter what the weather is, we were coming. We are putting out our Santa suits and it doesn’t matter,” said Leamington native Pauline Kniaziew. “We have been doing this for five years or so, it’s the beginning of our Christmas every year, we look forward to it. We love it, it’s very Christmassy, and the weather today isn’t that great but still looks like there will be a good number coming in anyways.”

The Super Santa Walk/Run is one of the Essex Region Conservation Authority’s annual fundraising events. ERCA works with the Town of Amherstburg to put on the event.

Runners young and old braved Saturday evening’s Super Santa Run. A total of 67 people walked and 205 ran in the event.

“I think that the Super Santa Run is a wonderful event that can involve the entire family,” explained Danielle Breault Stuebing, director of communications and outreach services for ERCA. “It gets people outdoors and active in a wonderfully fun and comical way. It’s quite a spectacular sight to see hundreds of Santa’s storming the streets of Amherstburg, and all of the residents who line the streets to cheer them on. The route showcases some of our region’s special places, including Fort Malden and the Navy Yard Park, all while raising funds for important conservation work.”

Nearly 500 Santa’s Run each year in support of the conservation and their efforts to make the region a place for life. Mayor Also DiCarlo said ERCA plays “an important role” in helping to maintain the natural environment across the region, Amherstburg included.

Runners young and old braved Saturday evening’s Super Santa Run. A total of 67 people walked and 205 ran in the Nov. 18 event.

“We love hosting this event for them, and are honoured that they’ve kept the event in our community,” said DiCarlo. “We will always work with them every chance we get. As for the run itself; I tell people who haven’t witnessed it, seeing that many Santa’s of all ages running and walking in downtown Amherstburg will definitely put a smile on your face. The event is infectious with the holiday cheer it infuses in our community.”

Super Santas running Nov. 18 in support of local conservation



Special to the RTT


Bells will be ringing in downtown Amherstburg as hundreds of jolly participants run and walk in support of the local environment at Essex Region Conservation’s annual Super Santa Run Nov. 18 starting at 5 p.m.

A sea of Santas will flood the streets along the five-kilometre route, which winds its way through downtown Amherstburg and highlights a number of historic sites, including Fort Malden and Navy Yard Park. The event also kicks off the spectacular Amherstburg River Lights Festival, which runs until Dec. 30.

Santas cross the finish line on Richmond St. at the end of a snowy 2016 race. (Submitted photo)

“This is event is fun for the whole family. In addition to promoting healthy and active living, it is a great way to kick off the holiday season,” said Essex Region Conservation Foundation President Susan Stockwell Andrews. “Last year, it was amazing to watch nearly five-hundred Santas fill the streets in support of conservation efforts.”

Registration fees are $40 per adult and $30 for children under 16. All participants will receive a free Santa suit to wear for the run, including a jacket, pants, belt, beard, and hat. Teams of ten ore more will receive $5 off per participant, so grab your friends, cousins, and co-workers to join in the jolly fun – and save!

Santas run northbound on Dalhousie St. during the 2016 Super Santa Run in Amherstburg. (Submitted photo)

If you are not able to participate, consider being one of Santa’s helpers as a volunteer marshal along the route. The event is a great opportunity for high school students to fulfill their required community hours.

All funds raised support the efforts of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation in enriching the Place for Life. Recent successes include opening the Cypher Systems Group Greenway, and creating the Rotary (1918) Centennial Hub, to bring the community’s vision of a region connected by trails to reality. So join in the jolly fun and register your entire family today at

For more than four decades, Essex Region Conservation has been sustaining and enriching the environment of the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region to ensure it is the Place for Life.


Ho! Ho! Ho! Over 500 participate in Super Santa Run



By Ron Giofu


The Christmas season got started with the arrival of Santa Claus Saturday night… 500 Santa Clauses as a matter of fact.

The Super Santa Run saw over 500 people walk, run or jog through the downtown streets of Amherstburg with all proceeds going to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation. Alex Denonville, events planner with the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), told the River Town Times Saturday night that a final fundraising total was not available as pledges were still coming in.

Participants, including dogs and babies, leave from the starting line at the Nov. 19 Super Santa Run.

Participants, including dogs and babies, leave from the starting line at the Nov. 19 Super Santa Run.

The money will go towards foundation projects, which bolster local conservation efforts as well as habitat restoration. It is possible, Denonville indicated, that some proceeds could benefit the Cypher Systems Greenway trail that is under construction from Amherstburg to Essex. That trail still needs community entrances, similar to what is on the Chrysler Canada Greenway.

“We have a great partnership with River Lights,” said Denonville. “It gets all the Santas downtown. We’re happy to partner with them.”

The "Stilt Guys" entertained during the Super Santa Run and also encouraged the runners and walkers.

The “Stilt Guys” entertained during the Super Santa Run and also encouraged the runners and walkers.

The snow that fell towards the end of the run added to it, Denonville believed.

The Super Santa Run just completed its eighth year. Two of the people watching this year’s run were a pair of 11-year-old exchange students from Bogota, Columbia. Camilo Reyes-Bueno has been staying in Amherstburg while his friend Jason Segura has been staying in Woodslee but both attended Saturday night’s Super Santa Run.

“It was pretty crazy,” said Segura.

Segura said he has seen Santa Claus before but not 500 in one place.

Runners head in both directions down Dalhousie St. during Saturday evening's Super Santa Run as some were closer to the finish line than others.

Runners head in both directions down Dalhousie St. during Saturday evening’s Super Santa Run as some were closer to the finish line than others.

The two boys have been in Canada for two months and leave for home Friday. The cold temperatures were relatively new to him, but Reyes-Bueno said he has felt the cold during the night before. Both enjoyed Saturday night’s activities.

“It’s been good,” said Reyes-Bueno.

River Lights Winter Festival starts this weekend

Special to the RTT

Ten years and the River Lights Winter Festival is shining brighter than ever!

Opening ceremonies will kick off with wonder and wishes for a prosperous, peaceful and mindful holiday season at the historic towne square in downtown Amherstburg.

A new commemorative display adorning the fountain is installed for the tenth year anniversary.  A larger than life Frosty visits during Saturday’s outdoor, classical movie “Frosty the Snowman” encouraging visitors and residents to make their 2016 wishes at this magical scenery. The ERCA Super Santa Run at 5 p.m. preludes the popular tree lighting count down at 6 p.m. followed by fireworks along the Detroit River.


Partnering with Anderdon Public School marching band, Walkerville and General Amherst High School arts students add youth and spark to the program. Snap a family picture at the new Victorian photo mural or with the hilarious stilt guys where kids of all ages will undoubtedly be in for a treat.

“But that’s not all! The beautifully handcrafted gingerbread houses on display at the Gingerbread Warming House at Toddy Jones Park are an attraction in of itself”, says Sarah Van Grinsven. “Amherstburg is one of those places that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a Christmas card from the past, and the 10th year celebration will be very special,” she adds.

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