Town partners with Santa Claus Parade organizers

By Karen Fallon

Since its inception in 2005 the Amherstburg Santa Claus Parade has reportedly lost sponsorship to other community events, noted David Grimaldi from the Windsor Parade Corporation at a recent council meeting.

Grimaldi, who was accompanied by Maggie Durocher also from the Windsor Parade Corporation, sought the partnership of the town for fifty per cent of the annual contracted services for the parade which is this year pegged at $10,000.

The other fifty per cent, noted Grimaldi, is to be raised by the corporation.

“We need to stop the bleeding; we can not subsidize it any longer. Because if we continue to subsidize there won’t be such an entity as the Windsor Parade Corporation,” said Grimaldi. “If there is a parade it needs to be sponsored by the municipality that is hosting the parade.”

According to a report from Rick Daly, manager of business development and programming and Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture, $6,000 has been budgeted for the event this year, leaving the remaining $4,000 an unbudgeted expense.

In 2010 the cost to the town towards the Santa Claus Parade, which was noted to have become the “benchmark” for similar parades throughout the region, was $4,000.

Grimaldi pointed out that back in 2005 before there was a River Lights festival and the Santa Run, he and Durocher went before council-of-the-day and suggested a Santa Claus parade for the residents of the town.

At that time, he noted, council’s “blessing” was given for the event to go forward.

“It was hugely successful; it probably exceeded the expectations of most in town,” said Grimaldi. “It was just a very, very, successful event.”

At that time, he noted, sponsorship was sought from the Chamber of Commerce and local businesses. Since then, as other events have come onboard sponsorship of the parade has steadily declined.

“That year – 2006 – we lost the sponsorship of all chamber of commerce members that resulted in a $7,000 loss,” said Grimaldi,

To address the situation, says Grimaldi,  he spoke with the director of the Chamber of Commerce who “made no bones about it that he was going to take our sponsorship away from us.”

The following hurdles the parade corporation faced, noted the organizer, were the Erie Shores Wine Festival, the Super Santa Run and then the municipal arena campaign

Several councillors agreed that the corporation has done a great job with the Christmas event.

“This is one of the biggest events that the kids look forward to,” said councillor Carolyn Davies.

“The pressure is on everybody; everybody is out there trying to get sponsors to supplement their event,” said Mayor Wayne Hurst. “We have to ask ourselves: ‘What can we as a council do, as there is a lot of added value to the ratepayers as it relates to this parade.”

This has been a great event for Amherstburg over the past six years, noted councillor John Sutton, who made a motion to support the request.

“Success has bred success and unfortunately it has bred some healthy competition for sponsorships,” said Sutton, who noted that maybe the event organizers can look at possibly doing some “cross marketing.”

“I really do believe that if we search for a solution it will be there,” continued Sutton.

Council supported the request.

The route is the same as last year with Sandwich Street and Richmond being the main route, ending at Toddy Jones Park for post festivities.

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