Saturday’s steady rainfall failed to dampen holiday spirits as the Niagara-on-the-Lake Christmas Parade marched on regardless of the lousy weather.
Though spectator attendance numbers were visibly lower than previous years, those who did brave the elements came equipped with umbrellas, raincoats, and big smiles.
Some spectators watched from the back of their open vehicles or even fastened tarps to trees and street signs for added protection against the downpour.
The Christmas Parade committee was prepared for 106 entries, only about 10 of which backed out due to weather, said Kevin Turcotte, a committee member and the town’s parks and recreation manager.
And parade day festivities didn’t end as the last floats reached the end of their route. The NOTL District 1 Fire Hall on Anderson Lane opened its doors for its annual turkey roll and open house after the parade.
NOTL fire association president Vic Martens said the rainy morning didn’t seem to affect their fundraiser.
“The rain may have kept people away from the parade, but we didn’t really see that here,” he said.
The association has always held the open house following the parade, he said. About 10 to 15 turkeys are raffled off and firefighters served drinks and burgers.
“It’s just something to add to the parade, I guess,” said Martens. The party has become a long-standing tradition for families to bring their kids, he added.
“I think they just come for a few drinks after standing out in the cold for the parade. Kids like coming in here. They can just come in here and run, it’s a big open space,” Martens said.
Celebrations continue long after the open house as many people in town also head over to the Legion following the turkey roll, Martens said.
“We finish the night off at the Legion,” he said.
NOTL Legion Branch 124 kicked off the morning with peameal on a bun, which the Legion sold on King Street for the “early starters,” said ladies auxiliary and committee member Megan Vanderlee.
“Every year before Christmas, on Saturday – Parade Day, we always have a great feast for everyone here. A turkey or ham roll – so you can come down and win your turkey or ham for Christmas. It’s always well attended,” she said.
The open house brought crowds in to warm up after the parade and it ran all evening.
“We have the ladies auxiliary raffle, which is a small ‘Charlie Brown tree’ with many gift cards,” she said.
“And then we just spread a lot of Christmas cheer and hope everyone wins a turkey or ham.”