Airdrie’s Mike Loughman has been named parade marshal for the sixth annual Santa Claus Parade Dec. 2, organized by the Airdrie Parades and Fireworks Committee.
Loughman, an advocate for mental health, said although he’s been involved in many parades, it’s his first time as a parade marshal. He said it’s an honour to fill the role.
“They said that they wanted to honour me for all my hard work this year with my Mike’s March for Mental Health and my other fundraising,” he said. “I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. I thought it was really cool. It made me feel like everything I’ve been doing up to this point is working and it’s worthwhile. It’s a great feeling.”
Loughman walked from High Level to Airdrie in July carrying a five-pound metal ball and chain, spanning 1,021 kilometres and raising more than $10,000 for Defeat Depression and the Thumbs Up Foundation. He said he battled substance abuse for most of his life and is now three years sober.
“I’m incredibly grateful and thankful for all the help and support that my community has shown me over the last three years,” he said.
The Santa Claus Parade is 30 minutes and will kick off at 5 p.m. on Main Street, starting at Fletcher Park and ending at Ridgegate Way. Main Street will close at 4:30 p.m. and re-open 30 minutes after the parade ends.
The Alberta Health Services Urgent Care Centre, located on Main Street, will remain open during the parade, however parking at the centre will be for emergencies only.
The theme for this year’s parade is ‘good ol’ hockey game,’ so Loughman will be leading the parade in the back of a truck while donning a hockey jersey and, of course, a Santa hat.
Loughman expressed excitement to bring his three nephews, ages five, seven and 12, along with him.
“When I was a kid, I remember my mom was part of a few parades through RE/MAX and we got to ride on this stagecoach, so I have a lot of fond memories of that,” he said. “I asked if I could bring my nephews, so my three nephews get to come with me. They’re really excited.”
The Santa Claus Parade, which is sponsored by Davis Chevrolet, usually attracts between 7,000 and 10,000 visitors each year. The Airdrie Parades and Fireworks Committee is in desperate need of volunteers to line the parade route and make sure street safety barricades are kept in place.
For more information or to volunteer, go to airdrieparades.com