Thursday, March 4, 2021

Drive-by Santa Claus event gathers toys & food donations in Wallaceburg

By Rori Bennett – Junior Reporter

Santa Claus traded in his sleigh for a modified red Dodge Caravan on Saturday, November 28, 2020 in Wallaceburg.

After the annual Knights of Pythias Santa Claus Parade was cancelled this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wallaceburg residents Jay and Tamara Debuck got the idea of bringing Santa to the community by organizing a Drive-By Santa event.

“Once we found out that we couldn’t have our normal parade, I was really bummed out because it is my daughter’s first Christmas and there are so many other kids in town that won’t get to see Santa either, Debuck told the Sydenham Current.

“That was the biggest motivating factor of this whole thing. So I just came up with the idea after I found that out, and I just said ‘well, instead of bringing everyone to the parade, why don’t we bring the parade to them?”

Santa travelled by a modified red Dodge Caravan through the streets of Wallaceburg, driving through most neighborhoods, giving children and families the opportunity to see Santa in a socially distanced manner.

Additionally, volunteers collected new toys and non perishable food items to be donated to the Wallaceburg Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul food banks.

More than a dozen volunteers worked well into the evening hours to gather donations and ensure children could see Santa Claus.

“It was myself that came up with the idea, and Mike Salisbury took the reins, got everything in motion and got the people we needed,” Debuck said.

“He got the police escort, the caravan which they cut into a convertible. I thought it was awesome, and they painted it red and that was all Mike. For myself and my wife Tamara, we came up with the idea and Mike and myself just kind of ran with it, and tried to make it happy for everyone in town.”

Debuck added: “We were kind of killing three birds with one stone, with kids being able to see Santa Claus, the food and toy donations. We added it in because we thought it would be a good idea to see if we could fill the food banks and collect toys in Wallaceburg, just to try to make kids happy around Christmas, because we know there are a lot of families who are struggling right now.”

Multiple photos have been posted to the event Facebook page, here.

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