COVID-19, weather cancels Santa Claus parade in Pembroke, Ont. – CTV News Ottawa

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Dylan Dyson CTV News Ottawa Multi-Skilled Journalist
@DylanDyson Contact
At the eleventh hour, a handful of Santa Claus Parades around the Ottawa region were cancelled due to poor weather.
Pembroke, Carp, and Navan all called off their scheduled Santa Claus parades Saturday due to winter storm conditions. 
Saturday morning started off with freezing rain in the Ottawa Valley, with a special weather statement also in effect for winds gusting as high as 80 kilometres an hour. Periods of rain were also expected at times throughout the region, and a high of 11 degrees in the valley caused snowmelt that would again freeze at night.
"It causes treacherous conditions, as anyone walking around the area will attest to," says Peter Kimbell, a warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment Canada. "That alone is probably a good reason to cancel."
In Pembroke, the city was faced with the decision to cancel the parade due to a surging number of COVID cases within the demographic set to attend the parade.
"Santa Claus Parade appeals to families and young children, and we’re having a lot of problems in Pembroke right now," says acting medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Cushman, of the rising COVID cases among children aged 5 to 11.
"We took a closer look and saw that it was in a handful of schools and there was also a lot of transmission on the buses," Dr. Cushman tells CTV News Ottawa. "We’re seeing families, entire families getting infected – including parents who have been vaccinated."
The decision means for a second year in a row, Pembroke’s Main Street will go without a Santa Claus parade.
"It really is a disappointment because our Santa Parade of Lights has always been really popular," says Pembroke Mayor Michael LeMay.
Currently there are 54 active COVID cases in Renfrew County, with children aged 5 to 11 accounting for about 20 per cent, numbers that LeMay could not ignore.
"Oh it was definitely a red flag about okay, how do we move forward," says Pembroke’s mayor. "And knowing that the number of cases in the younger age group is growing. The parade itself, it was a case of we just didn’t want too many ifs."
Rather than deciding between families standing shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk or cancelling the parade all together, the city is ensuring that Santa will still visit the children of Pembroke before Christmas.
To keep everybody safe, LeMay says Santa has agreed to a drive-by parade that will take place in Pembroke next Saturday, Dec. 18.
Downtown Pembroke on Saturday, Dec. 11. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa)
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