Lions return to Delhi’s Santa Claus parade

The Tillsonburg Lions and president Blair Oatman flew the Lions' colours in last weekend's Santa Claus parade through downtown Delhi. The Tillsonburg Lions have been tasked with re-establishing a Lions club in Delhi. They will promote the concept and gauge public interest at a public meeting at the Delhi Friendship Centre in January. MONTE SONNENBERG / Delhi News-Record

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The task of resurrecting the Delhi Lions Club has been given to the Tillsonburg Lions.

The Tillsonburg Lions took the occasion of Saturday’s Santa Claus Parade in Delhi to introduce themselves to the community. The club has embraced the mission with enthusiasm.

“It’s quite an honour to be asked to be a sponsor club,” Blair Oatman, president of the Tillsonburg Lions, said while club members prepared the Tillsonburg float.

“The new club will be co-ed. If you’re looking to build a new club these days, co-ed is the way to go. We hope our float is worthy PR (public relations). Courtland, Langton and Vienna have Lions Clubs. Why not Delhi? Given the size of the town, we should be able to form a club here.”

The local Lions district executive tapped the Tillsonburg affiliate to take the lead. The club has 43 members and a long record of community building.

Flying the Lions colours through Delhi is just one part of the process.

The Tillsonburg Lions will host a public meeting at the Delhi Friendship Centre Jan. 19. There, they will answer questions and field expressions of interest from potential new members. The meeting runs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The former Lions Club in Delhi fell on hard times several years ago.

The club was already suffering financial problems when Norfolk County moved Delhi’s ambulance station out of their building on James Street to a larger, more modern facility. The old building needed upgrades and repairs so the club sold it. It was later demolished and the land redeveloped.

Saturday’s parade was an occasion for renewal in more ways than one. This was the first Santa Claus Parade in Delhi where participants mustered in the area of McLaughlin Soccer Park at the south end of Main Street.

Since the parade was re-organized several years, the muster location was on Lansdowne Avenue at the north end of Delhi District Secondary School. The parade, however, was so large last year that Norfolk County finally said something about public safety.

Parade marshal Yvonne Callan said there were concerns about a large parade like this impeding emergency vehicles that might have to get through Delhi on King Street, James Street and Highway 3 while the parade was in progress.

The new muster area and parade route are more focused in the downtown area and the surrounding residential neighbourhoods. Callan says that is a good thing.

“This is more in the community so more people will be able to see it,” she said. “Older people will be able to watch from their porches instead of having to go up to the highway.”

Callan had someone posted at DDSS late Saturday afternoon in case entrants showed up with a float in the wrong location.

Given the cold and a steady drizzle, parade organizers were pleased with the turnout and the spirit of the participants.

A total of 50 entrants planned to attend but about 10 cancelled due to the weather.

Former Norfolk Mayor Charlie Luke and Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus judged the floats and handed out awards in a number of categories. The results are as follows:

  •  Best lighting: Annette Mackay’s Santa float. Honourable mention: Sharp Bus Lines float
  • Best music: SOS Towing. Honourable mention: Delhi United Church.
  • Most creative: Delhi Pharmasave. Honourable mention: Central Erie Insurance.

Dan Verhoeve of Delhi on International 140 and with Delhi Foundry tobacco planter from the mid-1960s. Unit rigged up with a generator and covered in Christmas lights. MONTE SONNENBERG / DELHI NEWS-RECORD