Virden plans for parade safety

Santa Claus Parade fun for families - “Everyone attending is a safety person.” – Westman RCMP S. Sgt.

The upcoming, Santa Claus Parade can be a magical affair with snow on the ground as a brightly lit parade passes through the darkened streets. Along the route, street lights, homes and businesses will have dazzling Christmas lights and nativities glowing, but even amidst the inspiration of the evening, keep safety in mind.

The Santa Claus Parade has trooped through Virden streets for multiple decades now, providing entertainment, camaraderie, and fun for kids, all without any reported incidents.

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Parade Marshal Herb Warkentin plans to keep it that way.

A recent tragedy where a four-year-old fell under a float and was killed in Yarmouth, N.S., is a solemn reminder to observe practical safety measures.

Warkentin has put some extra vigilance in place for the parade.

“I’ve got extra help on, to keep track of everyone that’s on [the parade]. For everyone that’s throwing candy - make sure it’s well thrown, if they’re not handing it out.”

Pedestrians need to be careful.

“I’ve got two quads to travel the parade route as well, ensuring that everyone stays back from the parade.”


It’s not unusual to have a train interrupt traffic flow in Virden. “When I know there’s a train coming, the parade is stopped.”

Saturday evening, participants need to be prepared to wait at the tracks.

“It’s only supposed to a -3C or -4C, so we can’t complain about that. Last year it was so nice; it was just beautiful out there,” Warkentin recalls.

Dig out the extras from your winter closet, even if it’s a warm winter night!

Asked about re-routing or blocking traffic on the parade route, including a few blocks on King St., Warkentin assured, “That has all been looked after.”


It’s a Saturday night, many businesses are closed by parade time.

Parade organizers are discouraging parking on the parade route along downtown Seventh Ave. between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m.

This will provide a clear view of the parade and make it easier for kids to get the candies.


Parade safety is not the responsibility of the police. S. Sgt. Joseph Frizzley said, “That is the responsibility of the whole community and everyone involved. Each float must be diligent as well as the community members watching.

“Parents are asked to watch their children and ensure they remain at a safe distance; and ‎of course floats need to ensure they have responsible adults supervising.

“Again, everyone attending is a safety person.”

DISTRACTIONS to consider:

  • Reduced visibility
  • Parades can be noisy
  • Poor footing
  • Reduced vehicle traction
  • Kids gathering candies

The involvement of children is integral to a parade event. Parents can talk to their kids about safety plans ahead of the event. Even little children can be warned to obey parents if they want to see the parade. It’s that important!

No one should get off and on a moving float.

While tragedies like the one at the Yarmouth parade are rare, multiple people have been killed during parades in Canada over the last decade – from youths to the elderly.

Vehicle traffic into and out of Virden needs to be aware the parade is gathering between 5:00 and dispersing after 7:00 p.m.. Avoid travelling the parade route.

But do plan to come and enjoy the Santa Claus Parade Saturday night, Dec. 1.


© Virden Empire-Advance