OTTAWA — “I want to see Santa Claus,” said Lilly Schroeder, 3, of Miller City, while she and her sister and mom awaited the arrival of the big guy in the red suit from the North Pole.
The Schroeders were among hundreds of families lined up in downtown Ottawa on Sunday for the annual Welcome Santa Parade, sponsored by the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I think it’s petty neat. Obviously, the cold doesn’t bother people. Everyone’s out here in the snow and the wind to see Santa,” said Adrian Schroeder, Lilly’s mom.
Sarah Bockrath, of Ottawa, brought her children to the parade and staked out a doorway of a downtown business to keep out of the chilly wind.
“It’s a good time, and we looked forward to it. We missed it last year,” Bockrath said.
But the annual tradition was back this year.
“This is our 28th year,” said Kelly Theisen, administrative assistant with the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce. “Last year, unfortunately, we had to cancel due to COVID concerns, but we’re moving forward this year and we’re happy to be here.”
This year there were 48 units in the Welcome Santa Parade.
“I think everybody’s kind of ready at this point to be out and about to find a way to kind of gather. Luckily this is an outdoor event, so we can still put those safety protocols in place if need be,” Theisen said. “This is a good way just to lift everyone’s spirits up for the holiday and to bring that sense of community back together at this event.”
After the parade, Santa was dropped off at the municipal parking lot and gathered with hundreds of children who were ready to assure him that they were nice and not naughty this year.
The event is a way for people to get to the downtown and check out the local businesses.
One of them, Heringhaus Furniture, was open Sunday during the parade.
“It brings a lot of people downtown, and we take up three storefronts here,” said Kelly Puente, design consultant for Heringhaus Furniture. “It’s a wonderful thing we have downtown, and Santa comes and the kids can sit on his lap. We’ve even got hot cocoa and hot dogs across the street. It’s a wonderful community event.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.