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Santa Spirit Tour becomes holiday tradition in Collingwoodlands

The cancellation of the town's big Santa Claus parade during COVID helped inspire a new neighbourhood tradition

One Collingwood neighbourhood has made an annual tradition of hosting its very own Santa Claus parade. 

On Nov. 26, the third annual Collingwoodlands Santa Spirit parade took place and despite the chilly temperatures, it seemed like the entire community was in attendance. 

“We do so many fun things here and the parade is one of our favourites,” said Julia Sward, a local realtor and the president of the Collingwoodlands community. “Everyone just wants to come together and have a good time.”

The first parade started in 2020 because the Collingwood Santa Claus parade was cancelled due to COVID-19. Sward had a full Santa suit leftover from a Halloween party a few years prior, so she thought of the idea to host a socially-distanced parade in the neighbourhood.

“Because everyone was stuck inside, we wanted to encourage everyone to come out and have some fun,” she said.  

The first year, everyone donned their masks and stood at the end of their driveway, excited for Santa to arrive. Volunteer “elves” collected nonperishable food items for the food bank as well as monetary donations that were donated to three local charities. 

The first year, they raised over $2,000. 

“COVID was challenging, of course. But if we didn’t have COVID, we wouldn’t have this,” said Sward. 

The parade was such a hit, they decided to do it again the following year. “I love that it ended up being a tradition now,” said Sward. 

Now in its third year, the Collingwoodlands Santa Spirit parade took place on Nov. 26 and once again, it seemed as though the entire neighbourhood was present. The whole community came out to see the big guy, decked to the nines in their holiday outfits. Sward said people even invite their families and grandparents and wait at the end of their driveways until the parade rolls by.  

“Everyone makes an afternoon of it,” said Sward. 

Santa departed the Forest Path cul de sac at 4 p.m. and made his way counter-clockwise around the neighbourhood. He had gifts for children and prizes for best-dressed family and pets, too. 

The kids also write letters to Santa, which Sward personally answers herself. 

This year, they collected a grand total of 72 boxes of Kraft Dinner, 22 cans of tuna, 37 boxes of cereal, 55 packages of pasta and rice, 32 cans of beans, 50 jars of tomato sauce, 75 cans of soup, 26 tubs of peanut butter, and so many other outstanding donations. 

Along with perishable food items, they also collect monetary donations to donate to three different charities that directly affect people in the neighbourhood. In the past, charities have included the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, Hospice Georgian Triangle, the Georgian Triangle Humane Society, Special Olympics Ontario — Collingwood and District Chapter, and 

“We are blessed here in the Collingwoodlands,” said Sward. 

The neighbourhood has fun events happening all year long, from their annual picnic and winter ski day, to an Easter egg hunt and a spooky forest set up around Halloween. 

Sward said the Christmas lights in the neighbourhood are especially beautiful. 

“We like to have a good time. Everyone is so awesome, I love it,” she said.

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Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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