Ho ho no: Vancouver Santa Claus Parade facing cancellation
The Vancouver Santa Claus Parade won't be coming to town this December unless organizers can fill a $150,000 hole in their budget.
The annual festivities have been drawing tens of thousands of families downtown for the past 13 years, but organizers say they'll be forced to cancel the 2017 parade if they can't attract some new sponsors.
"It's a tough year for us," parade society president Jessica Walker said. "We have faced some financial challenges that we haven't faced in the past, so we're reaching out to the community, to the corporate community, to help save the parade."
According to organizers, Rogers pulled out of the parade after being its presenting sponsor for 12 years.
The communications company told CTV News it "decided to redirect its charitable support to organizations that directly support youth,” and that it gave parade organizers at least a year's notice.
The cost of staging the event is about $400,000, much of which goes to policing, float construction and city fees. So far, the society has only secured $250,000.
Coast Capital Savings does not sponsor the parade itself, but has previously paid for the Christmas Square portion of festivities. The company pulled its sponsorship early this year, a spokesperson said.
A statement from the city said officials recognize the event's importance and that it would support this year's as it has in previous years. Communications manager Ellie Lambert said the event application remains active and there are meetings scheduled to continue with the permitting process.
Lambert would not provide details on the specific costs, nor would she say whether the city would consider stepping in to help cover the funding.
Walker said she'd be heartbroken to cancel the parade for the children who always show up to wave at Santa, but the biggest loss would be to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, the parade's beneficiary.
"This is a really important event for them to get their message out," Walker said. "It's not just about the donations we get on parade day, it's about putting the Greater Vancouver Food Bank front of mind during that season."
Since it started, the parade has raised a total of $157,000 for the food bank and helped collect 77,000 pounds of food.
The society said it currently has a number of sponsors, including Toys "R" Us and the Fairmont Hotel, but it needs more, either big or small, to make up its budget shortfall.
Walker pleaded with any companies who might be interested in throwing the parade a lifeline to reach out.
"It is the biggest festive tradition that we have here," she said. "We need a Santa Claus Parade in Vancouver and we need your help."
The Vancouver Santa Claus Parade is organized and produced by Vancouver-based public relations firm the Pace Group. Within the last year, it spun off a non-profit society to lead those efforts.
With files from CTV Vancouver's David Molko