The annual Santa Claus Parade will not be returning to downtown Chilliwack for 2012. Planning for a winter festival organized by the BIA is underway.

Chilliwack’s Santa parade replaced with winter festival

City council will reallocate the $7,000 spent on the parade for a new winter festival being organized by the Downtown BIA

The Santa Parade in downtown Chilliwack is dead in its tracks.

When no host organization stepped forward for 2012, city council decided to reallocate the $7,000 for a new winter festival being organized by the Downtown Business Improvement Association (BIA).

“I’m a huge fan of the Santa Claus parade, and I always have been,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz after the meeting. “I took my children there when they were very young, and attended right up until last year.”

So it was with some “reluctance” and “sadness” that she will be saying goodbye to the parade for 2012.

“The purpose of the Christmas parade is to encourage the community to visit downtown Chilliwack and share in the festive spirit,” said Gaetz. “The BIA’s winter festival activities share the same objective and we’re delighted to be their partner on this great event.”

The inaugural ‘Christmas in the City’ event by the BIA in 2011 included free, family events, like a Christmas tree lighting session, breakfast with Santa and a winter carnival.

“This is the second year for the BIA’s winter festival activities in the downtown and we’re looking forward to adding an exciting new element to this event in partnership with the City of Chilliwack,” says Kathy Funk, executive director of the BIA.

They’ll be looking for float builders for an activity that they will unveil soon, she said.

“What they’re proposing is new and different, and I guess in every city’s evolution there is a time for change if something isn’t working well,” Gaetz said.

The funds the city contributed in the past paid for a parade coordinator.

Last year, Star-FM stepped up to take over the mammoth task of coordinating the parade, but was unable to commit to the huge undertaking for more than a year.

City officials will revisit the matter in 2013 to see if anyone wants to reinvigorate and organize the parade at that point, said Gaetz.