Though it won’t be a march along Queen Street East with hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators, the Toronto Beaches Lions Easter Parade will be taking place this spring.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers had to radically change how one of Canada’s biggest and longest-running Easter parades was going to happen in 2021. Last year, the in-person parade and events surrounding it were cancelled due to the pandemic. Instead, virtual events were held.
For 2021, however, organizers are planning a Drive-thru Easter Parade on Saturday, April 3 from 4 to 11 p.m. It will take place in the south parking lot of the Eglinton GO station, which can be accessed from Bellamy Road South.
The event will be similar to the Bluffs Winter Wonderland holiday lights drive-through which also took place in the Eglinton GO station parking lot last November and December.
For the Easter parade on April 3, families can drive their cars past community floats and themed displays, musical entertainment and, of course, a chance to wave hello to the Easter Bunny.
“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 in an email to Beach Metro News.
Started as a Centennial project in 1967, 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.
Along with the Drive-thru Easter Parade, there are a number of other events also planned for April. There will be a Digital Easter Egg Hunt from April 2 to 4 for kids and their families to participate in online, and there is a Virtual Fun Run which will be available to take part in up until April 30.
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.” 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.