By Gordon Lambie
Sherbrooke’s ‘inside-out’ Santa Claus parade took place Saturday night, but a last-minute change to the way visitors were allowed onto the site sparked anger and frustration among many of the families that booked a visit later in the evening.
After having cancelled altogether in 2020 due to pandemic restrictions, parade organizers planned a modified version of the event for 2021, where festive displays would be set up in the parking lot of the old Costco store and families could parade through in their cars, entering by Marconi Street and leaving by J.A. Bombardier Street. Those wishing to attend had to reserve a time-specific spot in advance and were encouraged to arrive only at the time they reserved in order to avoid traffic issues or long waits.
According to parade Executive Director Jean-Pierre Beaudoin, the idea was popular enough that it sold out within 20 hours of being announced.
Partway through the evening of the parade, however, the decision was made to stop traffic from being able to turn directly off of King Street onto Marconi and instead have drivers line up opposite Marconi on Radisson in order to enter. According to Beaudoin the decision was made because the police directing traffic on the scene were concerned about the safety of the initial arrangement, and because of the proximity of the site to the 410 Highway access.
Regardless of the intention, commentary from parents on the Parade’s Facebook page shows that the result was chaos.