‘Parade of Lights’ route changed

Duane Hicks

Organizers of the 54th-annual “Parade of Lights” have changed the parade route due to policing considerations.
Robin Payeur, with Causeway General Insurance Brokers Ltd., said Friday the parade, slated for Saturday, Nov. 26, now will start on the 700 block of Scott Street, near the Memorial Sports Centre, and proceed west on Scott Street before dispersing at Mowat Avenue (Pharmasave).
The previous plan had been to start at the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau on Fourth Street West, proceed down Central Avenue, and then turn east onto Scott Street to the Memorial Sports Centre.
The parade lineup will start at 3 p.m., with float judging between 3:45 and 4:15. Then the parade will get underway at 4:30 p.m., which is a half-hour earlier than usual.
Payeur explained the new route minimizes the reliance on OPP officers who, if it had stayed the same, would be needed to control traffic at Second Street East and Central Avenue.
The OPP has agreed to have officers be at the parade but since they are on-duty, there is no guarantee that they won’t be called away before or during it.
The only way to guarantee a fixed number of officers would be to pay for their hours.
Payeur noted that if the OPP is called away, the Treaty #3 Police has volunteered to have an officer leading the parade.
She also is hopeful the OPP will provide someone on foot patrol in the downtown area during the parade.
She noted the former is necessary while the latter also is
important because it’s at the avenues along the route where potential problems start.
“When people try to cut across, it’s there, and people get rather snarly with our volunteers,” Payeur remarked.
“We’ve always appreciated the fact the OPP have been down there because if there has been an issue, they’ve been right there,” she noted.
“Their presence alone is a deterrent so kids don’t get sworn at and don’t get threatened.”
Payeur added it would be very helpful if an organization or group of volunteers (about 20) would step up to man the barricades at the avenues along the route.
She added if it’s a non-profit organization that wants to collect money for their cause at the parade, that’s not a problem.
Volunteers can call Payeur or Brenda Kellar at 274-6688 or e-mail Kellar at brenda@causewayinsurance.com
Payeur noted the parade had to proceed without the OPP last year as officers were called away to respond to an incident.
“It was horrible,” she recalled. “Our volunteers we had at the barricade—we had a lot of high school kids who stepped up to get volunteer hours and they were sworn at, they were threatened.”
Payeur said the public has to remember the parade has been an annual tradition here for more than 50 years, and should not create a fuss when they realize that some traffic is temporarily blocked due to the event.
In related news, the Sunset Country Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and the Fort Frances Lakers will be doing a toy drive at the Christmas parade.
The toys then will be distributed to families in need across Rainy River District through the MNO and other organizations.
The public is asked to bring toys to the parade, as the Métis and Lakers will have volunteers walking the route to collect them.
Alternately, the public can drop them off at the arena during the Lakers’ game that evening (Nov. 26).