Santa Claus and his joyful elves are about to bring some holiday cheer to your Red Deer neighbourhood in a festively decorated transit bus.
The third-annual Santa Bus, transporting a gleefully waving North Pole crew, will make the rounds of the city this Friday and Saturday night, as well as on Dec. 16 and 17. (For route maps, check out www.reddeer.ca/rdlights.)
Many Red Deerians are anticipating catching a glimpse of the decked-out transit vehicle, aglow in colourful Christmas lights, said Bobby-Jo Stannard, community development superintendent for the city.
Some neighbourhoods are even planning to make a “party” of it, with residents gathering outdoors to await the bus’s arrival, she added.
What started in 2020 as a safe way for the City of Red Deer to boost morale during the pandemic and roll out some seasonal cheer has turned into a Christmas tradition — and not just in Red Deer.
Stannard heard positive word-of-mouth feedback about Red Deer’s Santa Bus and it has resulted in other cities and towns in Alberta launching their own versions. “We hear about it from other municipalities…You know what they say: Imitation is a form of flattery…”
She feels the best thing about using a bus to unfurl holiday greetings is that many Red Deerians don’t even have to leave home to participate. It’s a low cost, accessible way to impart the holiday spirit, said Stannard.
Red Deer’s lit-up bus will be transporting a few extra elves this year — and could also be accompanied by some large pieces of city equipment, to further impress the youngsters. (Stannard won’t divulge details, saying this aspect is weather dependent and designed to be a surprise.)
The Santa Bus will circle through Kentwood, Normandeau, Johnston Park, Oriole Park, Highland Green. Riverside Meadows and Pines on neighbourhoods on Dec. 9.
On Saturday, Dec. 10, the Santa Bus will start in Bower, head up Gaetz Avenue and 32nd Street to West Park, wind through Ross Street and the downtown before heading up Gaetz Avenue to 77th Street.
Sunnybrook, Anders, Morrisroe, Eastview, Clearview Meadows, Michener Hill, Waskasoo/Woodlea, the downtown, and North Gaetz Avenue are on the schedule for Friday, Dec. 16.
And the Santa Bus will be passing through Vanier Woods, Lancaster, Deer Park, Rosedale, Timberstone, Clearview Ridge and Garden Heights neighbourhoods on Saturday, Dec. 17.
All routes start at 5:30 p.m. Real-time bus movements can be tracked on the City of Red Deer’s MyBus app.