A frigid cold is not enough to top a warm, festive holiday spirit.
The annual Thunder Bay Police Association’s Parade of Lights hit the roads on Saturday evening, despite temperatures that approached -30C with the windchill.
Parade chairman Greg Stephenson said the parade, which is now in its 15th year, owes its success to the contributions of the entrants. He said their decorating creativity makes it worthwhile for bystanders to brave the harsh December weather.
“It’s phenomenal every year the effort they put in,” Stephenson said prior to the start of the procession.
“I’ve been out driving around and there’s people lined up already even though the weather is cold, it’s going to be a great night.”
Stephenson estimated there would be approximately 60 registrants with vehicles of different sizes, themes and decorations participating. He said there is always a mix of yearly regulars as well as entrants making their debuts in the parade.
Some of the participants began preparations more than a month prior to the event, and at least one entry spent more than 60 hours decorating and setting up lights.
He said organizers expect thousands of people to line the route, albeit a lot remaining in their vehicles. Prior to the start of the parade, the east side of the Main Street bridge was the epicentre of activity as the start of the route.
After crossing the bridge, the route continued along the Harbour Expressway before heading on Memorial Avenue until Queen Street, where it connected to Fort William Road and Water Street to reach its conclusion.
Stephenson, also the president of the Thunder Bay Police Association, was confident most people would take adequate precautions for the weather, noting that it is a consequence of the time of year.
“You just have to dress for it, It’s Thunder Bay,” Stephenson said. “We’ve been lucky the last couple of years but this year we have to deal with the weather. It’s not snowing, we have snow, so it feels like Christmas.”
Volunteers were present throughout the route to collect donations for four local charities: Autism Ontario, Thunder Bay Therapeutic Riding Association, Special Olympics and George Jeffrey Children’s Centre.
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