The Santa Claus parade, the centrepiece of the Merritt Country Christmas weekend in late November, and its headline float could soon be no more than a memory without new volunteers.
The committee that puts together Merritt Country Christmas is calling on locals to come forward and volunteer to take over organization for the Santa Claus parade and building Santa's float, which ends the parade procession.
"It has grown to the point where one small group can no longer manage all components," says committee member Kurt Christopherson. "The parade and the Santa float are in jeopardy unless some agency can step forward."
He says that over the years, many of the founding committee members have left Merritt, resigned for personal reasons, or are "simply ready to pass the torch on to new volunteers."
Country Christmas takes place on the last weekend of November. Events and activities that the committee organizes include a Christmas concert, craft fair, and photo sessions with Santa. In addition, other groups put together activities, such as a dance presentation and breakfast with Santa.
The nighttime parade is billed as one of the largest Santa Claus parades in North America, drawing participants and viewers from throughout the Nicola Valley and beyond.
"It is a grassroots event that has been a tradition for many years in the valley," says Christopherson.
However, the committee does not believe that it cannot continue to organize all of the events it has in the past at its current strength, he says.
"We are appealing to committed individuals, organizations, or service clubs in the community who would be willing and able to accept responsibility for either or both of these activities."
The committee can help give float ideas and is also happy to share its knowledge and experience to whomever is willing to take the parade on, says Christopherson.
He adds that the City of Merritt has lent much support to Country Christmas over the years. For the parade, the City of Merritt puts up and removes the barricades along the route, cleans the streets after the parade, maintains the marshalling ground, and pays for insurance coverage.
Christopherson says that the committee does not have the manpower to continue organizing the parade and build the float itself. Nevertheless, he stresses the value of Country Christmas, including the parade, to the community.
"Merritt has a wonderful, unique event that draws its people together, puts extra bounce in our steps, and smiles on our faces. It takes energy, work, commitment, and planning in order to be successful."