Hundreds turned out to get their holiday season started last Friday with the annual Santa Claus Parade and Midnight Madness.
Cars and trucks lined the streets to see the many floats of the parade, after which shoppers flocked to the many stores open until late that night to make the most of the pre-Christmas bonanza.
“I always start Christmas with Christmas shopping for presents for my friends,” said Ceaira McKay. “It’s always really fun.”
Many businesses and groups in town put forward floats for the parade, including the Hay River Fire Department, department of recreation, and the Hay River Metis Government Council.
“My favourite part of getting ready for Christmas is the parade,” said Conner McKay Ivanko. “I like all the lights and the signs and stuff.”
His friend Landon Bowker agreed, though also added that he liked throwing candy off the float he was helping to man.
Midnight Madness, the Chamber of Commerce initiative, kicked off directly after the parade with the draw for the Right Here in Hay River campaign winner. In the last few weeks, shoppers have been encouraged to collect magnets scattered around businesses in town. After having completed set of five, participants could enter a draw to win $1,000 chamber dollars to spend in Hay River. Sherri Vegso was the winner for this, the first year of the campaign.
“The response to the campaign has been really great,” said chamber president Janet-Marie Fizer after the draw on Friday night. “We had 500 magnets, and as of this morning, there were 225 entries. For a first year that we’re doing this, it was a great response.”
More than that, however, Fizer said the main goal of the shop local campaign — to get people going into local stores and seeing what they have before looking to buy elsewhere — was achieved.
“I just hope people remember it’s more than one night,” she said. “Just give local merchants a chance.”