Santa is losing his reindeer

By Cecilia Nasmith

Next time Cobourg's Santa Claus Parade passes by, count the reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh – they are at the point of retirement, organizer Andrew Hall told council at this week's committee-of-the-whole meeting, and some have already opted for the greener pastures.

Hall joined Northumberland Orchestra and Choir vice-president (and tenor) David Kuhnke in presenting a deferred request for a 2019 Community Grant in advance of final Cobourg budget deliberations.

The NOC is asking for $4,000 worth of support for a group that brings quality music – and more – to the community. They work with such arts organizations as the Oriana Singers and provide mentorship to young people such as the Sounds of the Next Generation (SONG) group that provides musical opportunities to under-serviced students.

Each year brings a Christmas concert, a family and a concert with a special guest performer, The one at the end of March will feature jazz icon, Juno winner and Order of Canada recipient Molly Johnson, You'd have to pay $100 to see her in Toronto, Kuhnke said, but you can see her in Cobourg as a NOC guest for $28.

The nonprofit volunteer-driven organization relies on the support of the town, the Ontario Arts Council, CFMX and Cameco, as well as the requisite $100-plus fee each member pays just for the privilege of being part of the group, Those who can't pay might receive a full or partial waiver by supporting the group in other way (marketing or fundraising for example).

“We budget, monitor and allocate our money very carefully and make necessary accommodations for those with disabilities who wish to still be part of the organization,” Kuhnke added.

Hall offered some history of the Santa Claus Parade, now in its 64th year. In recent years, the town would give $3,500 in annual support, with the Downtown Business Improvement Area and Cobourg Lions Club chipping in a similar amount. The Lions also fielded an army of volunteers, he said.

While the Lions will continue to offer volunteers, Hall noted, they have decided their funding priorities must be people in need,

Each year's parade budget is $9,000 to $10,000, but additional costs are arising.

“We are faced with a float which needs storage and upgrades and, more importantly, our reindeer (which we share with Campbellford) are approaching retirement age. Comet and Blitzen have already signed off on their retirement package.”

Hall estimates a replacement cost of $500 to $1,000 per reindeer, and said that fundraising will take place to replenish the team.

Councillor Nicole Beatty pointed out that the DBIA is still committing to $3,500 but Hall is asking $10,000 of the town. Since the annual parade costs $9,000 to $10,000, Beatty wondered, is the remainder earmarked for the reindeer fund. Hall confirmed that this was the intention.

A final budget deliberation will take place later this week at which all Community Grant requests will be considered.