Riverhead Lions Club’s Santa Parade and BIDMA Holiday Bonfire merging

You know times are tough when even Santa Claus is consolidating.

The Riverhead Lions Club and BIDMA are planning to merge two long-standing holiday events they’ve previously each held independently.

The Lions Club has held its annual Santa Parade on a Sunday afternoon in early December for the last 66 years. And BIDMA’s annual Holiday Bonfire along the downtown riverfront, also held in early December, is an 18-year tradition.

Discussions between the groups have led to a proposal to combine the two events, Ms. Tucci said.

The Lions Club has already approved the idea, according to town Councilman John Dunleavy, who’s both a member of the Lions and the Town Board liaison to BIDMA, which also supports the idea.

The two groups hope to schedule the joint events for the second Saturday in December, although they want to avoid conflicting with another downtown holiday event, SantaCon, which was most recently held on the first Saturday in December.

The plan is to have the parade in the afternoon, then have a transition period before the bonfire during which local restaurants can offer specials to prospective customers coming from the parade or waiting for the bonfire, Ms. Tucci said.

After that, the bonfire will go on as usual, with Santa arriving by car and taking his place in the BID’s giant gingerbread house to hear children’s requests.

“Even though we’re talking about making it one event, there’s really going to be a definition between the two,” Mr. Shauger said. “The Lions are still going to do what they’ve done in the past, and our bonfire committee will continue to do what they do. The marketing will be worked on together, which I think will benefit both events.”

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File photo: The Riverhead Lions Club’s annual Santa Parade in 2016. (Credit: Grant Parpan)