For some the festive season begins with the first sign of eggnog on store shelves, but for those in Penticton the Christmas season begins at the annual Royal LePage Santa Claus Parade and downtown light up.
“There is lots of places to grab a hot chocolate and spend some time downtown,” said Barb Haynes, executive director of the Downtown Penticton Association. “It gets very busy so we suggest to come early with your blankets and woolies, get your spot on the street then let your kids go and enjoy some free entertainment and crafts.”
Starting at 2 p.m. in Nanaimo Square, there will be free crafts, games and entertainment. Pre-parade entertainment includes Nathalie Lewis, Okanagan Dance Studios, a fire spinner and stilt walkers. At 4 p.m. Penticton’s mayor and council will officially light up the trees in Nanaimo Square and the parade will begin at 4:30 p.m. with Santa and Mrs. Claus anchoring over 40 entries.
“It is Christmas season in the downtown and everything is going to be all lit up and ready to go. It is going to be the largest Santa parade we have had. I know I say that every year, but it just keeps building and building every year,” said Haynes.
Amongst some of the favourites in the parade will be the RCMP, the pipe band, fire trucks and local entertainer Beamer Wigley, said Haynes. All of the downtown businesses will be open, and with the Shop, Stamp and Win promotion having started earlier this week, Haynes said it is a great way for people to kick off their shopping.
“It is just a great promotion and fun for people to get some extra benefits from shopping downtown,” she said.
There is about 35 businesses participating this year in Shop, Stamp and Win. Customers can look for the posters in the businesses windows, pick up a Shop, Stamp and Win card and start collecting stamps with their purchases. Once the card is full, you can enter your name into a draw. On Dec. 20 the DPA will draw for two $500 downtown dollar packages.
Before the grand parade, people looking to get into the festive season are encouraged to join in the 25th annual Summerland Festival of Lights on Friday from 5 to 10 p.m.
One of Canada’s top singers will performing a free one-hour concert, starting at 9 p.m. following the fireworks display, which is set to music this year. Andrew Allen has gained popularity in North America since his first hit in 2009, I Wanna Be Your Christmas. His lead single, Loving You Tonight, has sold 75,000 copies and charted in both the U.S. and Canada. Allen has played shows with Bruno Mars, One Republic, Barenaked Ladies and Parachute. This year he undertook a nationwide tour with The Voice contestant Dia Frampton and is enjoying success with his latest single, Satellite.
Throughout the evening, local performers will be on Main Street entertaining, Santa’s Workshop will be open to children in the Summerland Credit Union building, photos with Santa at True Grain Bread, children’s entertainment at Nester’s and live ice carving displays in two locations downtown. A special Christmas craft fair will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Summerland Seniors Village and the annual Season Sparkles art show will be at the Summerland Art Gallery.