Santa Claus will make an early stop in Okotoks to make some noise and spread cheer on Christmas Eve.
The man in red plans to make his annual tour through town to give the reindeer a rest while he visits Okotoks residents along with local emergency services personnel.
Driving Santa through town has been an Okotoks fire department tradition since 2003.
“For me, it’s not Christmas until we do the parade,” said Okotoks Fire Chief Ken Thevenot. “That’s when it really starts to feel like Christmas, that night, for me. You see so many smiles and it’s always fun.”
The festivities begin just before 5 p.m., when Santa arrives in Okotoks and meets families outside the fire hall.
While the reindeer are unharnessed and taking a much-needed break inside the fire station, Santa will ride atop the Town’s 1956 parade fire truck from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., starting at the fire hall on Milligan Drive. He’ll led by Okotoks RCMP and municipal enforcement and EMS.
Santa will be waving and “Ho-ho-hoing” from his sleigh on top of the fire truck, while lights flash and music plays from loud speakers as the parade winds its way through town.
Thevenot said the noise and fanfare tend to draw people out of their homes – sometimes before they even get their shoes on.
“It’s always funny when we’re driving around and kids run out with no shoes on, typically in pajamas, a lot of the smaller ones,” said Thevenot. “They’re so excited they just run out and then you can see the parents trying to call them back to get their shoes and jackets on. A lot of the parents too, in their sock feet, running out to try to give that wave to Santa.”
For the second year, Santa’s fire truck will be equipped with a GPS linked to a Santa Tracker on the Town’s website, so people can see where the big man is and be ready to meet him out on the street when he gets to their neighbourhoods.
The tracker updates every 15 seconds and will show Santa’s progress through Okotoks.
Thevnot said the truck will slow down a little to allow people time to get photos with Santa and the flashing lights in the background, he said. It’s all about bringing Christmas cheer to the community.
“It’s just so fun to see everyone dancing to the music as well and clapping, and smiling,” said Thevenot. “To me that’s what it’s all about.”
To see a map, or to follow the Santa Tracker and countdown, visit the Town website at www.okotoks.ca.