The Grand Marshall for this Saturday’s Toronto Beaches Lions Drive-thru Easter Parade will be Scarborough Southwest MP Bill Blair.
The drive-thru parade takes place on Saturday, April 3, from 4 to 11 p.m. in the south parking lot of the Eglinton GO station, which can be accessed from Bellamy Road South.
COVID-19 safety regulations have changed the way in which this year’s Easter celebrations in the Beach will be taking place, and the annual parade is the biggest event to be impacted. For those planning to attend, tickets must be purchased in advance.
Started in 1967 as a Centennial project, the Beaches Easter Parade was originally routed along the Boardwalk for its first seven years. The Beaches Lions Club became actively involved in 1973, and the next year the parade moved to Queen Street East. By 1981, the Lions had become the parade’s official organizer. The Toronto Beaches Lions Easter Parade is now Canada’s longest-running and oldest Easter parade.
Last year, as COVID-19 was starting to spread across Canada, the Toronto Beaches Lions Easter Parade was cancelled entirely though people were encouraged to share memories of past parades online.
This year the parade still cannot take place in its traditional manner since it draws hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators to Queen Street East in the Beach.
Organizers, however, did not want to lose the event for a second year in a row due to COVID-19 so they came up with the drive-through parade idea.
“As the oldest and largest-running Easter Parade in Canada, we couldn’t imagine the idea of families and children missing out on the joy and excitement the Beaches Easter Parade brings to the community each year,” said Claire Chilelli.
And so the Drive-thru Easter Parade was created. It will run in a similar fashion to the Bluffs Winter Wonderland holiday lights drive-through which also took place in the Eglinton GO station parking lot last November and December.
Those wishing to attend the drive-through parade will have to register for a vehicle pass online, which will provide them with a timed entry. All vehicle entry tickets will be $20 plus HST and processing fees regardless of the number of people in the vehicle.
To protect everyone involved from the COVID-19 virus, vehicle passes will have to be printed and displayed in vehicles or saved on a smartphone and to be scanned. All vehicles approaching the entry point must have their windows closed, and the event will be contact-free.
The Drive-thru Easter Parade will take visitors on “a mesmerizing one-kilometre journey full of Easter cheer, sights and sounds,” said Chilelli.
Visitors will see a variety of stationary floats showcasing community groups, local businesses, musical entertainment, distanced petty zoo, buskers, antique and rare cars and the Easter Bunny all decorated with lights. To register for a vehicle pass and time slot on April 3, please go to https://www.beacheseasterparade.ca/drive-thru-easter-parade
Other events planned for the Beaches Easter Weekend celebrations include a digital egg hunt and a fun run.
The Drive-thru Easter Parade will take visitors on “a mesmerizing one-kilometre journey full of Easter cheer, sights and sounds.” Visitors will see a variety of stationary floats showcasing community groups, local businesses, musical entertainment, distanced petty zoo, buskers, antique and rare cars and the Easter Bunny all decorated with lights. To register for a vehicle pass and time slot on April 3, please go to https://www.beacheseasterparade.ca/drive-thru-easter-parade
The Digital Easter Egg Hunt will see participants in family-household groups of any size complete a number of tasks and decipher clues leading to 14 different locations across the Beach. The egg hunt is a contactless event due to COVID-19, but there will be a chance to meet the Easter Bunny and perhaps receive a treat. Cost to participate per family is $20 plus HST and processing fees. For more info, go to https://www.beacheseasterparade.ca/digital-easter-egg-hunt
The Virtual Easter Fun Run will include a five-kilometre run and also a one-kilometre Bunny Hop for younger participants. Cost is $30 to take part and will include the shipping of an Easter-themed medal for all runners. For more on the run, please go to https://raceroster.com/events/2021/39607/brc-running-series-easter-5k-and-1k-bunny-hop-2021
Proceeds from this year’s planned Beaches Easter celebrations, will go towards the Toronto Beaches Lions Club and its community initiatives. The Bluffs Winter Wonderland event raised more than $25,000 for the club and Feed Scarborough initiatives, said Chilelli.
Community groups wishing to take part and have a float at the parade can find info on how to do so at https://www.beacheseasterparade.ca/registration
Sponsors for the Beaches Easter celebrations are The Richards Group Re/Max/Hallmark, The Artisans, Metrolinx GO, Beach Metro News, Global TV, and the Toronto Beaches Lions Club.