Downtown Fort Frances was alive with the sights and sounds of the festive season Sunday afternoon as the annual Christmas parade, this year entitled “Christmas at the Movies,” proved to be an event to remember.
The parade, which started shortly after 3 p.m. and proceeded west along Scott Street from Reid Avenue to Mowat, drew a total of 26 entrants ranging from imaginative floats to emergency vehicles all decked out in lights.
Local TD Canada Trust branch manager Katie Trigg, who co-organized the parade with TD manager of customer experience, Heather Gill, said they were “super excited” with how the event went.
“With us having changed the date to Sunday [afternoon], we just weren't sure how receptive people would be,” Trigg admitted.
"We'd heard a lot of good feedback but weren't sure what we were going to get in terms of a crowd.
“We were happy to see so many people came out,” she added.
Trigg said participants truly got into the Christmas movie theme, adding “there was a lot of incredible creativity with the floats.”
Rainy River First Nations' “Polar Express" float earned the "Buddy the Elf Award" for most Christmas spirit while Fort Frances High School's "Polar Express" float won the "Kevin McCallister Award” for best use of materials.
The “Clark Griswold Award" for most decked out went to Iron Range Bus Lines and its "Magic School Bus" while the "Holiday Cheermeister Award" (People's Choice) went to the Northern Lights School of Skating for its "How the Grinch Stole Christmas” float.
Tim Hortons won the “Best Dressed Award" for its "Nightmare Before Christmas” float.
Santa and Mrs. Claus also made an appearance in a shiny new ride, courtesy of TD staff members and the Voyageur Lions Club of Fort Frances.
The parade was presented by TD and Tbaytel, with local sponsors providing prizes, supplies, and money for candy, as well as a slew of volunteers.
“We really want to extend thanks to every single person that played a part,” Trigg said.
“There was no dollar too small or hour too short that was volunteered or given,” she stressed, adding the spectators also deserve thanks—after all, a parade isn't a parade if no one comes out to see it.
“It really was an amazing community event," Trigg enthused. ”Coming from the city, I have been to a lot of big parades and—I said it last year and I'll say it again this year—small towns do it better.
“The whole community comes out and participates, and it really feels like a 'warm' event,” she added.
“You see people you know walking down the route. It's really, really nice.”
Earlier in the day, there were free photos with Santa from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Rainy Lake Square.
The photos were taken by Travis Glowasky (Studio Gibbous), with Tim Hortons here providing free hot chocolate.
Trigg said 72 parents—some with two or more children—signed photo releases so she's estimating more than 100 kids came out for the event.
“It was really great," she remarked. "We've gotten a lot of good, happy feedback from parents.”
Trigg noted the photos are up on the “Fort Frances Christmas Parade” page on Facebook.