There won’t be a Santa Claus Parade in downtown Barrie again this year, but the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Barrie Improvement Association (Barrie BIA) have something in the works to make up for it.
The Chamber of Commerce wasn’t able to put on a parade for Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick in the city last year either, due to health concerns surrounding the pandemic. With restrictions being lifted across the province, the Chamber felt it might be time to put a parade on this year. Unfortunately, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit didn’t agree. “With all the things that have been coming into play, we were hopeful that we were able to get this off, but unfortunately, it’s just not in the cards this year,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Paul Markle told Barrie 360. “We are quite regretful that that’s the situation. But we are confident that we will be back, stronger and better than ever, next year.”
Meanwhile, the Chamber has paired up with the Barrie BIA to help bring some holiday cheer to the city’s downtown core. The popular summertime Open Air Dunlop program will be brought back once more this year for a tree lighting ceremony and launch of the annual Noella festival. “We’re pivoting on the model, and kind of really bringing people together for that tree lighting, but also seeing if we can make it more of a month-long activity to get people downtown,” said Barrie BIA Chair Sergio Morales.
Morales says the Noella festival this year will be bigger and better than in the past. “It’s just really reinventing that, and making it more of a Christmas market versus just one, like “here’s your tree, here’s your parade” and then just using the word Noella. We’re really trying to grow what we’ve done in the previous years.”
The brief return of Open Air Dunlop could be a welcome sight for downtown businesses and residents alike. “The main thing that we’ve heard from downtown businesses is they were pleasantly surprised at how well it went,” said Morales. “It has been extremely well received, and people are excited about it, continuing forward.”
“What we’re hearing from residents is they’re seeing the best aspects of Spark Street in Ottawa, they’re seeing the best aspects of Quebec City, they’re seeing the best aspects of Europe and other countries around the world,” added Morales. “And all those aspects put together with a made-in-Barrie solution is what people are really appreciating seeing on Dunlop Street.”
The special Open Air Dunlop and Tree Lighting are planned for Saturday, November 20.