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Santa Claus Parade organizers worried about liability issues

Thorold organizing committee wants city to take responsibility; 'We’re doing this because we love our community but we also want to feel safe at the same time'
The Santa Claus Parade in 2018. Bob Liddycoat / ThoroldToday

After a two-year absence, the Thorold Santa Claus Parade is finally on track to happen again this year. But the organizing committee is ringing the alarm bell because they are worried they’ll be held responsible if anything goes wrong.

“We are all personally liable should there ever be an unforeseen incident at the parade,” says the chair of the Santa Claus Parade committee, Sebastian Soccio-Marandola, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “We don’t have any additional protection. We get an insurance policy but we are personally liable.”

Usually, city committees and the events they organize are covered by the city’s insurance policy, but because the Santa Claus Parade is considered an independent community event, the parade is not covered by the municipality.

“We are considered a community group that receives grant funding from the city to put on an event,” explains Soccio-Marandola.

As the chair of the committee, he has written a letter asking the City of Thorold to resolve the issue by hiring a special events coordinator, and to designate the Santa Claus Parade as a 'city run' event. The matter will go before city council tonight.

It’s been a bumpy few years for the Thorold Santa Claus Parade. In 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of COVID-19 and last year there weren’t enough volunteers to organize the parade.

Luckily, this year has seen a renewed interest in the 30-year-old Thorold Christmas tradition.

“We were fortunate enough that we had many new volunteers reach out to us,” Soccio-Marandola says. “We have over a dozen people wanting to work on the committee. We are in our initial planning stages. We are just working out our framework and timelines for the parade.”

Soccio-Marandola hopes the liability issue is nothing but a bump in the road for this year’s Santa Claus Parade.

“In terms of planning and the volunteer power we are in a very strong position to put on a fantastic parade,” he says. “We are just hoping that we can be afforded those protections to ease the peace of mind of everybody involved. At the end of the day we’re all volunteers. We’re doing this because we love our community but we also want to feel safe at the same time.”

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About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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