The annual Santa's Parade of Lights is hitting Orléans this weekend, and with even more floats than usual organizer Bob Rainboth says it will be an event to remember.
On Nov. 27, 80 floats from various community businesses and organizations will travel down St-Joseph Blvd. from Youville Drive, through the new roundabout at Jeanne D'Arc and on to Centrum Blvd.
Rainboth, from the Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association, says he doesn't anticipate the roundabout will hinder any parade activities. "We've been in discussions with the city, the Orléans Business Improvement Association and the police, so we are confident things will be on line for a safe passage."
He adds that parade-goers need to remember to come early; the parade starts at 6 p.m. and with a yearly draw of about 120,000 spectators, the sidewalks can get crowded.
One of Rainboth's tips is to grab a bite to eat before the parade in one of the local strip malls, and in the meantime, secure a parking spot for the big show.
Community Leader Max Keeping will be emceeing the judging review area and the parade marshall will be comedian, actress and writer Jessica Holmes.
This year, there are nine different categories in the float competition, including best community, best commercial, best spirit, best novelty and the parade's grand champion. The winners receive bragging rights and take part in a trophy presentation the week after the parade.
Rainboth says there's a diverse collection of floats including rock bands, Elvis impersonators and of course the traditional holiday themes.
There is also a high school and elementary school challenge, where the winners in each category win a pizza party for their class from Boston Pizza.
As with past years, the parade raises funds to buy new toys for needy children; during the parade firefighters will be collecting cash donations and new, unwrapped toys in their boots.
"Anything helps, and 100 percent of all donations go towards toys for children in need. We are very happy that we can help out with this cause," Rainboth says.
The firefighters will also collect letters to Santa and to Canadian troops around the world, which are passed on through the Military Family Resource Centre.
"I really get a kick out of seeing the show come together and seeing the kids' smiles," Rainboth says. "It's just like a light bulb coming on when they see the floats go by. Then you know you've done a good job."