Hundreds of people flocked to Merrickville on Saturday for the annual Christmas in Merrickville event. This year, businesses were looking especially festive for Merrickville-Wolford in Bloom’s Best Decorated Business competition. The shops were packed along St. Lawrence Street, with shoppers eager to find the perfect item for everyone on their Christmas list.
As usual, the Santa Claus Parade, hosted by the Merrickville Volunteer Fire Department, made its way up St. Lawrence Street just after 11:00 am. This year, the parade began at the Merrickville Community Centre, instead of across the bridge in the parking lot near Grenville Castings. Owner of Uncle Fester’s Place, Brian Empy, says this change caused quite a bit of confusion for some of the spectators and participants in the parade. The parade has started near his chip stand on the north side of the river for years, and he doesn’t understand why it changed at the last minute. “There were a lot of people who were disappointed that it changed,” he said. “They could have at least but a sign up.”
Merrickville Fire Chief, Mark Urquhart, said that the location of the start of the parade was changed for safety reasons and convenience. “There is a lot of construction going on near Grenville Castings and there isn’t as much room as there used to be.”
Mark believed that the parking lot over by the Community Centre would have more room for people in the parade to line up. It also keeps the parade participants away from the busy intersections of Highway 15 and County Road 43 as much as possible. “We thought it would be much safe for everyone,” he said.
The main issue this year was that the new start of the parade wasn’t communicated as effectively as it could have been to spectators and participants. The parade route that was published in the pamphlets and in the Merrickville Pheonix still had the parking lot across the river as the starting point of the parade. “If you put something in papers and pamphlets, you gotta stick to it,” Brian says.
Regardless, this confusion didn’t seem to affect the parade for most of the spectators who lined St. Lawrence Street in the downtown core of the Village. “We are pleased with the parade, and the association would be happy to field any comments,’ Mark says.