VIU will be joining the Ladysmith Light Up and Nanaimo Santa Claus parades for the first time in recent memory with a bright float showcasing the school’s academic, athletic, and leadership success.


The Ladysmith Light Up parade draws a large crowd each year. Courtesy of

The float will feature a VIU band, student leaders, scholarship and award recipients, a DJ, cheerleaders, Mariners’ athletes, mascot Stewy the Sturgeon, and many lights, said Executive Director of Student Affairs and the float’s main organizer Carrie Chassels.

“The delegation will lead with a big rig truck, then a flatbed where there will be a stage for the band, followed by a white Toyota Tacoma truck for the lead speakers and DJ, and then a convertible for Stewy,” Chassels said. “It’s going to be pretty awesome.”

The float and delegation is a team effort. Some student ambassadors and volunteers are helping with the design and decoration of the float, the cheerleaders are developing their own choreography, and students from the trades programs are developing the large float by getting railings for the flat bed.

“The intention is to express appreciation for the people that helped us get to where we are today,” she explained. “The success of our scholarship recipients, student leaders, and the athletes performing at the level they do, they all have parents, mentors, coaches, friends, and teachers that helped get them to where they are. We’re here to celebrate and appreciate the people that lifted us up.”

The project has seen a lot of support from Deans of programs involved in the production of the float in the weeks leading up, and are expecting about 100 students to be in the parade.

“It’s great to see the positive energy we’re getting behind it,” Chassels said. “Sometimes people need to see something to get a sense of whether it’s something they think is worth it or not. We’ve got a lot of awesome here, a lot of great things and creative people.”

The initiative to create a VIU float delegation was built on the smaller delegation VIU had in the Nanaimo Heritage Day parade in May. After that success, Chassels decided to get more support from the university.

“Hopefully we’ll build on it even more,” she said. “Once the word gets out, maybe we’ll get some more faculties and students that want to help out with it next year.”

The Ladysmith Light Up parade follows First Ave. beginning at 6:45 p.m. on November 26, and the Nanaimo Santa Claus parade is on Commercial St. beginning at 5 p.m., November 28.