The 2020 GREATER Barrie Chamber of Commerce Barrie Santa Tour

- jim Young 20201209 

“When one door closes, just open it again. It’s a door. That’s how they work.” - anon

One of the many challenges we have faced with the pandemic of 2020 has been how to cope with family gatherings and familiar traditions that are not permitted this year.

Christmas traditions that will have to be cancelled or altered in some way will probably be the most disappointing for many people.

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The Barrie Chamber of Commerce Santa Claus Parade is one such tradition for me that I have been involved with for the past 6 years. That may not be a long tradition but it’s a very special one as I have taken the seat of honour high in the sleigh at the end of the parade each year during that time.

So it was understandably, with great disappointment that I read the Barrie Santa Claus Parade had to be cancelled this year, due to Covid concerns.

Instead of just throwing their hands up in defeat however, the Barrie Chamber of Commerce came up with an alternate plan to take the place of the parade in the hopes of providing some entertainment for young and old alike, instilling the Christmas spirit in all, while promoting the importance of shopping local to help out small businesses that needed their support now more than ever.

You can imagine my delight in receiving an invitation to participate in the Barrie Santa Tour to reprise the role I had played in the parade.

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My part in the Barrie Santa Tour was not hard work and the majority of the time I was mostly waiting around for, or travelling to, the next booking, compliments of the lovely Melissa and Kelsie who performed double duty as directors as well as chauffeurs. Steve from Rush Limo also provided us with a welcomed luxury ride in style for a couple of days.

Still, I was physically drained by the end of each day and welcomed the hospitality of all the wonderful staff at the Hampton Inn. I was tired but totally fulfilled and completely satiated and left with a renewed faith in mankind from all the wonderful, new people I met each day.

The Barrie Santa Tour was more fun than I might have imagined in my wildest dreams and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

I have been very lucky to meet so many caring and interesting entrepreneurs and their employees, government workers, politicians and volunteers in Barrie whose generosity to their community in these times of need has been truly inspiring. What a great testament they are to their determination to thrive in spite of the pandemic by adapting and moving forward, regardless of all the challenges they have faced.

I was truly moved by the efforts I witnessed first hand of businesses offering donations, help and support to charitable organizations despite struggling with their own financial losses and unique challenges. The charitable organizations, rather than turn their backs on the needy, resolved to look at alternative methods to continue to reach out, developing new and improved plans to ensure those who needed help would receive it without interruption. Many of these new methods will no doubt continue to be in play long after the threat of the pandemic is over, building on the organization's strengths and encouraging them to be better.

Well played, Barrie!

And of course the team at the Barrie Chamber of Commerce have been truly amazing! 

Who would have thought it would take a pandemic to inspire them to come up with such a great idea? And then, to pull it together with such great success in such a short time!

What a great group of people they are! It's been a real pleasure to meet them all and an honour to be part of this great project. 

Melissa and Kylie patiently coached me, feeding me lines and making suggestions through all of it. They continuously encouraged me to be better. 

Julie and Paul's contributions were more behind the scenes but every bit as important. They were the driving force and the captains steering the proverbial ship.

I would be amiss if I didn’t also give credit to the whole Wylie Ford Team for their talent in helping make me look good. In particular Rikki (The High Flyer) and Sam (The “Big Picture” Guy) have been so much fun to work with. Their patience, professionalism and direction were invaluable.

I thank them all for putting up with my occasional hijinks.

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At the end of the day I am more energized by it all than worn out.

And did I mention how much fun it has been? 

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