Skip to main content

No Santa Claus parades in Ottawa for the second straight year


The Santa Claus parades in Ottawa are set to be cancelled for the second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social gathering restrictions.  

The city of Ottawa is not issuing permits for parades because crowds cannot be controlled and it is virtually impossible for volunteers to check vaccination status. 

In Orléans, Santa’s Parade of Lights is usually on the last Saturday in November, but not this year.

"We are in discussions with Events Central with the city, and trying to figure out a way to get a parade in-person, which is proving to be a little difficult because there are no parade permits being issued at this time," says Bob Rainboth, Chairman of Santa’s Parade of Lights.

"There’s other events happening around the city with large numbers. We need to work with the city and try to figure something out for us to have an in-person event of some sort. We’re working hand-in-hand with our colleagues with the Help Santa Toy Parade, which is the downtown parade, and trying to bring something to life."

The Help Santa Toy Parade attracts up to 15,000 people. Chair of the event Cameron Taylor is now looking at Plan B.

"I think that we have some pretty good alternative options that people will be pretty excited about," said Taylor.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, the city says its hands are tied by provincial regulations on COVID-19.

"The regulations provide that parades would require capacity restrictions and controls established by the organizer. However, access by spectators to an in-person parade or controls, such as physical distancing and masks, cannot realistically and logistically be implemented," said Kim Ayotte, Acting General Manager of Emergency and Protective Services. "Facilities where spectators watch sports are subject to separate regulations from organized public events, which include spectators having to show proof of vaccination."

Organizers of the Help Santa Toy Parade and Santa's Parade of Lights say time is running out to make a decision on parades this holiday season.

“You know it's not like we can enclose the event, or ticket it, or enforce mask wearing, or vaccination passports," says Taylor. "There’s no way to police a long parade route."

One aspect that won't be cancelled is the chance for people to donate toys to make sure every child has gifts under the tree this Christmas.

"I can tell you right off the bat that this part will be moving forward. We will be able to collect toys in fire stations this year," Said Rainboth.

A brand new website is also in the works for those looking to donate. All proceeds will go directly towards purchasing toys for Christmas.

"I’m a big community builder," says Rainboth. "I believe these events are the heart and soul of our community. If you’re building a community from within, I think that it’s entirely the biggest part of living in this wonderful city that we have."

Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches says the decision not to issue permits for Santa Claus parades makes sense.

"This fall we want to do all we can to maximize children in school and it means that we have to think hard about where unvaccinated children are coming into contact with other children," said Dr. Etches during an interview on CTV News at Six Friday night.

"We do have the Delta variant. We are looking forward to a vaccine for children, it's just we need a bit more caution this fall."

Etches notes organizers hosted drive-by parades last year.

"There's opportunities perhaps to do something like a drive-by parade, I know others have been innovated about trying to recreate that kind of parade in an opposite direction where the people move and the parade is stationary."

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Josh Pringle Top Stories

Stay Connected