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New Westminster's Christmas Parade of Lights returns on Saturday

Greg Passmore of Santa’s Brass Band warms up his trombone prior to the start of last year’s Hyack Christmas Parade of Lights. The event returns on Saturday. - NEWSLEADER file
Greg Passmore of Santa’s Brass Band warms up his trombone prior to the start of last year’s Hyack Christmas Parade of Lights. The event returns on Saturday.
— image credit: NEWSLEADER file

It may be the 25th annual Christmas Parade of Lights rolling down Columbia Street on Dec. 3, but it will be the first with a title sponsor.

CIBC, which will be opening a new branch at the New Westminster SkyTrain station in December, has added its name to the official title of the event. It's a deal departed Hyack Festival Association executive director Melanie Vogel worked out.

Her successor, Douglas Smith, said now its his job to make sure CIBC receives "tremendous residual value for their investment. Hopefully we can turn this into a long-term sponsorship agreement. It's very much in keeping with what I'm trying to achieve for our events."

Smith said the CIBC plans to have 65 staff decorated with lighted Christmas hats giving out goodie bags during the parade, which is co-sponsored by the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association and the city.

If CIBC gets the value its looking for it will help Smith attract title sponsorships for other events.

"I think that's the way to go. If we can demonstrate during the Christmas parade just how much we can elevate the status of our major sponsors, they will notice a difference right away," said Smith, who would not reveal how much CIBC is contributing.

With the new sponsorship also comes a new poster, logo and banner for the parade, which starts Saturday at 4 p.m. More than 50 entries will begin at Columbia and Fourth Street and go west on Columbia to Eighth Street. The lighting of a 21-foot Christmas tree will follow the parade at Hyack Square starting at 5 p.m.

The Hyack Parade Committee has named Alan DeGenova as its honourary parade marshall. DeGenova spearheaded the drive to build Honour House, a residence for military and first responder personnel and their families to stay while receiving medical treatment.

Free parking will be available in the Downtown Parkade, although access will be closed between 3:30 and 5 p.m. for the parade.

The festivities will also require some traffic diversions. Westbound traffic on Columbia Street from the Pattullo Bridge to Fourth Street will be closed from 1 to 6 p.m., except for traffic accessing the bridge. Eastbound traffic will flow until 3 p.m., when it will then be sent to Stewardson Way and onto Front Street until 6 p.m.

Access to Columbia from Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, Begbie and Alexander streets will be closed from 3 to 6 p.m. Eighth will also be closed form Columbia to Carnarvon Street during those hours while Carnarvon will be closed between Eighth and Sixth.

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