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City of Cambridge
The Hespeler Santa Claus Parade is an annual event occurring the first Saturday of December in Hespeler. Founded in 1979, the original parade had just 19 entries. Since then, the parade has grown far larger and does not turn away any willing participants. The parade is organized by volunteers from organizations such as the Optimist Club of Hespeler, as well as independent volunteers, and it is made possible by donations of both money and items for the goodie bags distributed by Santa Claus.
The event was formed shortly after the cities of Galt, Preston and Hespeler were combined into the city of Cambridge. While Galt and Preston each had a Business Improvement Area and a Christmas light display, Hespeler had neither. A meeting was held with Hespeler merchants, at which time they decided to hold a parade, as well as buy a set of their own lights with money raised by the community.
The Hespeler Santa Claus Parade travels up Queen Street in Hespeler, and finishes with Santa making his way to the Forbes Park Scout House. There, he and helpers from the Hespeler Village Neighbourhood Association distribute goodie bags, candy, hot chocolate, and apple cider. A fun activity for children at the festival is the collection of letters to Santa Claus. Letters with a return address included may even receive replies!
There are several contests that take place at the Hespeler Santa Claus Parade. Parade entrants are judged and first, second, and third place entries are awarded. There is also a Santa Claus Parade raffle, with three different prizes totalling hundreds of dollars. Lastly, children can take part in a colouring contest with different age categories to compete in. Each category has three winners, with small cash prizes awarded to the winners. In past years, the colouring contest has received over 250 entries.