What She Brings Us: Santa and the Smiles


When the Christmas parade was cancelled three years ago, Shanda Dosanj took it upon herself to revive it. Above, she is see putting up lights at the Stan Clarke Park a day before the parade. Photo: Gagandeep Ghuman

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Jan. 27, 2013

For as long as Shanda Dosanjh remembers, the Christmas parade was one constant in an ever changing Squamish.

For Dosanjh, who was born and raised in Squamish, the parade was one of the few things that brought the town together.

And seeing Santa was the best part of it, Dosanjh recalls.

So, when she heard three years ago the parade might be cancelled, she could scarcely believe the news.

“It broke my heart,” Dosanjh said, her hand instinctively touching her heart.

While others shrugged helplessly, she decided to do something about it.

The shock melted into a steely resolve: She would bring back the parade, no matter what.

“I said well, ‘Santa has to come to Squamish,’ Dosanjh said smiling.

She emailed the chamber of commerce, and the next thing she knew, she was in charge of the Squamish Christmas Parade, an event that brings out hundreds of families to line up on Cleveland Ave to catch a glimpse of Mr and Mrs. Santa Claus.

She was given six weeks to plan for the parade, a formidable task made easier only by her experience as a long-time community volunteer.

Still, she credits the community for bringing back the parade.

“There were a lot of people who gave money and were willing to sponsor the parade,” she said.

Each year, Dosanjh and her team of committed volunteers, friends, and family try to do something different for the parade.

If last year they did the North Pole, this year it was lighting at the Stan Clarke Park.

The parade preparations start as early as September, and a close circle of friends joins in to help Dosanjh.

There are community sponsorships to be managed, posters and letters to be delivered, signs to be made and posted.

The day before the parade, Dosanjh, along with Ole Hansen, Henry Hansen, Ken Granger, and Colleen Burns meet at a secret location to deck up the float for Mr and Mrs. Santa.

The group can spend an entire night decorating the float.

Dosanjh said she is hardly stressed out, but she follows a simple mantra in organizing the parade.

“We need everyone to go wow!” she said.

That is a word Collen Burns would use for Shanda.

“There is a lot of unseen countless hours, and she does it all for free, for our community,” said Burns.

For Dosanjh, the happiness lies in the sight of kids and young families enjoying the parade.

“People are happy with the parade and that is what makes me happy,” she said.


  1. Eric Andersen says:

    It was a terrific Santa Parade. The Mr. & Mrs. Claus float Shanda, Ole, Henrik, Ken and Colleen worked on stood out as a favourite. Big success. How to repeat it for this summer’s Squamish Days parade?

  2. Patricia Marini says:

    Thank you so much Shanda, grearly appreciated!! Need help, let me know?