by Jeff Stackhouse
The 33rd annual edition of the Mission Candlelight Parade began 43 years ago as a daytime parade.
It was decided 10 years later that it looked much better at night so it was changed to the Fraser Valley’s only nighttime parade event in BC. ( It is now the most attended nighttime parade in all of BC!)
Before the parade there was free hot dogs, chips, pop and hot chocolate, a nice touch presented by the city as an incentive to take the stairs to the parade and park at the school on the hill. This helped to alleviate traffic congestion in the downtown core after the parade and worked well.
This year was a spectacular year of great Christmas floats, marching bands, classic cars and carols as over 70 floats came down Main Street: First Avenue in Mission.
Over 15 thousands spectators came out this year due to the perfect weather.
Sure it was raining about a couple hours before the parade started, but the sky became clear for the entire parade! A true Christmas miracle!!
This was the first time in recent memory I was not completely frozen during the parade.
We usually get the -10 wind-chill for it and we were sitting comfortably at about 5 degrees for the whole parade so it was a real treat that will likely never happen again.
There was even snow (artificial) , Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, several live bands which playing the entire parade route, and of course Santa himself to cap off the night!
Many community groups marched in the parade from Skating clubs, to Irish Dance clubs.
The parade included many hit songs like Justin Bieber’s “Little Drummer Boy” which is one of my favorite songs from his hit Christmas album “Under the mistletoe”
What is a parade without candy? There were lots! Candy canes, chocolate Santa’s , gum coins ( new this year) and lots more.
It was a special treat for me to see the Special Olympics athletes marching down First Avenue this year.
Many of them have gold medals at home and are big stars.
I met up with Special Olympics Soccer Captain Bryce Schaufelberger for a post parade VIP interview.
He has won a Gold and Bronze in the World Games.
Santa Jeff : Hi Bryce. Congratulations on your success in the Special Olympics. How was the Candlelight Parade this year?
Bryce: It was one of the best parades we have ever had in Mission…. and no rain…Thank God!
Santa Jeff: What was your favorite part about marching in the legendary Mission Parade?
Bryce: The best part is walking down the street waiving to all of the children beacause they are so excited to celebrate Christmas.
When I waved at them it was awesome and so special to get a wave back. It made my day.
Santa Jeff: What was it like to showcase such a great organization like the Special Olympics? What was the audience reaction?
Bryce: This was the first Special Olympics float in the Mission Christmas parade in a few years and that in and of itself is very important.
We all got out there as a team and walked together in unity with pride for our team.
Everyone seeing our float and our lights and our team of athletes were very happy and cheered us on.
We felt joyful and gave that happiness back to the parade viewers.
Santa Jeff: It sounds like everything went perfectly. Was there anything that happened that went wrong?
Bryce: Well everything was perfect the whole night for the most part…. But at 2pm we met at the 8th Ave Church and decorated our float in the pouring rain.
We thought the parade may have to be cancelled and then just hours before the start time the sky cleared and we got perfect weather.
Talk about a Christmas miracle!
Santa Jeff: Ho Ho Ho! That’s the spirit of miracles that happen at Christmas time.
I am so happy everything went well and that Special Olympics had a great time promoting the spirit of diversity, sportsmanship, and inclusion.
No rain! YES!
Santa Jeff: Thank you for answering my questions Bryce! J
Bryce : My pleasure. The parade is one of the highlights of my year and it was a privilege to march in the parade with my teammates and friends.
It was a real thrill and treat for me to interview head captain Bryce after the parade and I learnt a lot about the passion and care he has for his teammates.
Good job to the Special Olympics Team this year in the parade and to all other participates.
The 2016 Parade marked one of the best parade years in terms of weather and parade enthusiasm and we look forward to a wonderful parade in 2017.
This year has been a tough one for most people. We have lots a lot of great actors and family members this year.
It was tough for most of me friends and family but it was also a great year for many of us.
One of my life goals came true this year… I wanted to secure my first ever Vancouver art show before turning 40 years old and I managed to do that. A very difficult and prestigious feat of tremendous hard work this year but it was well worth it to be included in one of Vancouver’s greatest shows in the heart of the city in a gallery that is side-by-side to the legendary Vancouver Art Gallery. My most huge dream come true this year.
I hope that your year has gone well and if it has been a bit of a letdown get to work on New Year’s Resolutions because they can be a powerful tool in making your dreams come true in 2017!!
May the new year bring you love, happiness, creativity , joy , peace and a sense of why we are who we are.
You have so much potential so live life to the fullest everyday and enjoy a wonderfully happy and special year in 2017.
Oh behalf of Selfadvocate.net I wish to extend my warmest wishes to all for a very happy healthy and special Christmas.
May your Christmas miracles come true and may you find great peace and joy only Christmas can bring.
Santa Jeff (Stackhouse)