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Lighted Santa Parade in St. Clair kicks off holiday season, features Marysville Viking Regiment

A screenshot of the start of St. Clair's Lighted Santa Parade from the CTV-Channel 6 telecast.

By Jim Bloch

The Lighted Santa Parade in St. Clair flowed down North Riverside Avenue on a frigid Nov. 18 night, ushering in the holiday season in the Blue Water Area.

Launched in 2009, the parade is annually the first of a number of parades and special events in the region that celebrate the holidays. Families lined both sides of the avenue from Vine Street south to Cass, patiently lining up behind new police cordons designed to keep the crowd from surging in the paths of Model-Ts, tractors and Ford F-350s pulling floats.

Sue Daniels has chaired the event since its inception. Her 2022 parade committee included Trice Hawkins, the city’s recreation director; Jim Shafran; Police Chief Tim Raker; Sgt. Jodi Lipa and DPW director Bob Bieth.

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The parade featured 47 units.

“This was the largest parade to date,” said Daniels.

Police cars and fire engines led the parade out of the gate in a blaze of flashing lights and swooping sirens. As a backdrop, most of the businesses in Riverview Plaza were draped in sheets of blue, pink and red lights. The parade route was illuminated by refurbished snow flake lights paid for by the St. Clair Endowment Funds managed by the Community Foundation of St. Clair County. Silks Flower Shop made more than 200 new bows for the boardwalk railing along the St. Clair River.

With the Marching Saints in Orlando to march at Disney World, the parade featured Marysville’s Viking Regiment. The band’s big sound enlivened the procession.

St. Clair’s new Christmas tree and mat.

“You can’t have a parade without a band,” said Daniels, one of the key drivers of the St. Clair Theatre Guild for more than 50 years.

How did she land the band?

“The director of bands is Aaron Buckley, a SCHS grad,” said Daniels. “He was also in some of my SCTG shows. So he was really excited to bring his band down here. He really helped me out.”

The band won the parade’s Grand Sweepstakes as the top unit.

The band marches next in the Marysville Lighted Christmas Parade, Dec. 3 and will play in the Marysville High School Bands Holiday Concert, Dec. 14, 7-9 p.m.

Girl Scout Troops 76634 and 76415 won first place in the nonprofit division for their float. Charest Auto, with its band of minions, took first place in the commercial division.

Some of the participants among the 47 units: the Charles F. Fulton Post 382 of the American Legion; Zach Eagen’s State Farm; Creative Tots; St. Clair Garden Club, celebrating 60 years; the LaFontaine Auto Group; St. Clair Chamber of Commerce in a 1915 Ford; Action in Motion, the Richmond dance team; Scout Pack 261; Nieman’s Family Market, throwing bagels to the crowd; the St. Clair Equestrian Group; War Water Brewery’s clever flying Santa sleigh; Friends of the St. Clair Library in a 1931 Ford station wagon; Magna; Salty Dog Pet Grooming; Biewer Lumber; Northstar Bank; the Riverbank and Boardwalk theaters; Lumberjack; and Big River BBQ.

After a wind storm destroyed the St. Clair’s Christmas tree last year, the city spent $34,000 on a new one, most of it covered by insurance.

“Santa lighted the new city tree and then the children were invited over to the mall for refreshments, a meet and greet with Santa and a visit with Santa’s live reindeer in the Candy Cane Corral,” said Daniels. 

Mayor Bill Cedar presented Santa with a key to the city.

“A big thank you to all of the volunteers, the city hall staff, the DPW and park staff, the Police Department, the Fire Authority and all of the 47 units that participated in the parade,” Daniels said.

CTV-Channel 6 broadcasted the parade, with Paul Dingeman and Bob Wheeler narrating. Watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTJb1o4o6Sw.

Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at bloch.jim@gmail.com. 

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