Winnipeg’s Santa Claus Parade to start early on changed route

Winnipeggers who were worried about missing the end of the Santa Claus Parade to take in the Jets game won’t have to compromise on their entertainment.

The parade is starting at 3 p.m. Saturday and wrapping around 5 p.m. to ensure everyone gets a good look at the man in red before watching the Jets take on the Penguins at 6 p.m.

Parade director Monica Derksen says the yearly event means a lot to those who attend.

“This will be 111 years, so it’s got quite a history here. Every year we hear wonderful, heartwarming stories of grandparents who remember, great-grandparents,” she said in an interview with CBC News.

“It’s had different routes, it’s had different times, it’s been on different days, but it’s always very iconic. It’s the start of the season here.”

This year, the parade is partnering with the Christmas Cheer Board, and parade-goers are encouraged to bring a toy or a non-perishable food item to donate.

There will be a donation drop-off centre in the Manitoba Hydro building’s atrium, and Cheer Board workers will be walking around the crowd collecting items.

There will be a number of road closures, one starting first thing in the morning on Saturday, the City of Winnipeg said in a news release.

The roads that are closing are:

  • Southbound Main Street, from Portage Avenue to York Avenue, closing at 8 a.m.
  • Portage Avenue, in both directions from Main Street to Memorial Boulevard, closing at 11 a.m.
  • Northbound Fort Street, from St. Mary Avenue to Portage Avenue, closing at 11 a.m.
  • Memorial Boulevard, between Portage Avenue and Broadway, closing at 11 a.m.
  • Eastbound York Avenue, from Kennedy Street to Fort Street, closing at 11 a.m.
  • Edmonton Street, between Portage Avenue and Graham Avenue, closing at 11 a.m.
  • Vaughan Street, between Portage Avenue and Graham Avenue, closing 11 a.m.

Closures are expected to be lifted shortly after 5 p.m., the city said.

The route has been reversed this year to begin westbound on Portage Avenue at Main Street, travel down Portage Avenue to Memorial Boulevard, then take Memorial Boulevard to Broadway, where it ends.

“It’ll be a bit of what they know, and a bit of new,” Derksen said.

There will be limited parking on north-south streets between Main Street and Memorial Boulevard, with local and parkade access only between Ellice Avenue and Broadway.

Broadway, Memorial Boulevard, and northbound Main Street will remain open throughout the day but are expected to be busy.

For those who arrive early to stake out a good spot to wave at Santa Claus, there will be five block parties along Portage Avenue where they can go warm up and get snacks and hot drinks, Derksen said.