Crowds set to welcome Santa and Co. in Ontario starting Friday

This year’s Winter Wonderland Parade queen Kyla Larson is flanked by princesses Bentley Weldon and Hailee Hill at the coronation event. (The Enterprise/Joe Siess)

ONTARIO – Two of the biggest holiday events of the season are coming later this week – Santa’s Breakfast and the Winter Wonderland Parade. 

The breakfast is at 6:45 a.m. Friday at the Ontario Elks Lodge, 20 S.W. 3rd St., and the parade will be held on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The parade, conducted by the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce and presented by the Malheur Enterprise, kicks off from Fourth Avenue in Ontario and will include a visit from Santa in Moore Park at the end.  

Kyla Larson, this year’s Winter Wonderland Parade queen, was crowned at the Ontario Chamber’s coronation ceremony on Monday, Nov. 25. 

Larson is a senior at Ontario High School. Two princesses, Bentley Weldon of Weiser High School and Hailee Hill of Harper Charter School, also were crowned at the event.

The attendees at the coronation voted on which girls would join this year’s court, and they were crowned by the chamber’s grand marshal, Mike Iseri, and junior grand marshal, Richard Lanier, who is a sixth-grader at May Roberts Elementary School. 

Richard submitted this year’s parade theme, “Santa’s Workshop,” which was chosen by the chamber. 

Larson said that what motivated her to be the parade queen was that when she was younger she looked up to the parade queen and princesses, and now that she is older, she wants to be a role model for young kids. 

Larson said she wrote a short essay about why it would be an honor to be on the court and also explained how she represents her community and what she loves about it. 


“I liked that it was an essay contest and not a popularity contest per se,” Larson said. 

In addition to attending the breakfast on Friday morning, where the queen will be handing out gifts, Larson, Weldon and Hill will be riding in the parade on Saturday. 

John Breidenbach, chamber CEO, said that this year, at the end of the parade at Moore Park, Santa is going to descend from the float and kids will be able to visit with him. Additionally, there will be other activities at the park as well as vendors, Breidenbach said. 

Larson said she will be helping out at Moore Park after the parade. 

Larson said she has been accepted to Ambrose University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she will study behavioral science, and plans to pursue a minor in theater. 

Larson hopes to become a social worker to work with foster care children and adoption. Her long-term goal is to start a theater program for foster children. 

Larson said she has been involved in theater at school and has wanted to be an actress or act on Broadway, but that she listened to her parent’s advice to seek other job opportunities. 

Another reason she changed her mind is because her current plan benefits more than just herself. 

“It’s going to be able to help people where acting is just kind of more fun and for you and more for entertainment purposes,” she said. “I decided to minor in theater to keep my theater passion.” 

Larson said developing a theater program for foster children is the perfect way to combine her desire to help others with her passion for theater. 

“I know how much confidence it gives people and I know it makes the situation better for a lot of these kids,” she said. 

Larson isn’t concerned about moving to Canada to attend college because she has her relatives who live close to the university.

Larson said that part of being the parade queen is representing the community of homeschool students that she is a part of.

“I’m so thankful for this opportunity because I was homeschooled until junior year, this year, so being able to do something like this is really cool because it is different than what is normally there, because I am able to represent part of the community that doesn’t get represented as much,” Larson said. “Getting to be the parade queen is very special to me and I am able to represent the community that I grew up in and that shaped me.” 

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