A four-year-old girl died after falling under the floating Saturday night in a Santa Claus parade in Yarmouth, NJ, police said.
"A very tragic incident, very traumatic to anyone who has been doing the parade and on stage," said Cpl. Dal Hutchinson from the RCCA in Nova Scotia.
"My understanding is that there were many people nearby, so our thoughts are currently in the family of this little girl, because it's a very difficult time, but also in the community, with people who were there watching the parade. "
The incident happened just before 7 am. near the main street and Stars Path in Yarmouth, about an hour after the Christmas Yard Light Christmas Parade began.
"She was not on the float, she was moving along with the floating float when she fell under the float," said Hutchinson.
The police did not issue the child's name.
But on Sunday afternoon, the Three-year Regional Education Center reported that the girl was pre-school.
The e-mail center said that members of the crisis management team would be in school on Tuesday morning (Monday was scheduled for students day) to support staff and students.
"Suddenly, we just heard screaming"
Vance Webb, a retired engineer who lives on the outskirts of Yarmouth, attends a Saturday parade with his wife, son and three grandchildren.
"We just watched the parade and then about 30 feet away, I hear – suddenly, the fleet stops and I see something on the ground," Webb told the Canadian press in a telephone interview.
"Then we suddenly heard shouting, it was pretty close to us."
Webb said the whole scene has become "chaos" as people realize what has happened.
"People 50 feet away – none of us are all right, all adults are crying, everywhere I saw hundreds of people weeping," Webb said. "This will really affect the city.
In a subsequent interview with CBC News, Webb noted that cars were parked on both sides of the road during the parade. He said people are standing in the street in front of cars to get a better look.
"I've never seen this on a parade," Webb said. "We just reduced visibility and created a narrow point along the way, and we felt it was not right right from the start."
To make parade safer next year, Webb offered volunteers to walk along with floats to make sure nobody is getting too close. He also suggested having a parade during the daytime and making it safer.
"I'm not sure if this has contributed to this, but it's an opportunity," Webb said.
The organizers of the parade, known as the "Christmas Parade of Lights," drew attention to Sunday's Facebook situation, claiming they were "devastated by the traumatic catastrophe."
"We, together with the community, mourn the family" [sic] loss and pray for all affected. The focus is on empathy as a community and helping this family in a very difficult time, "the article says.
Tonight I spoke to Yarmouth's mayor @PamMood to condescend the entire community for the tragedy of this weekend in Santa Claus's parade. As a parent, words fail at such times. Our thoughts are with the family of the young victim and all affected.
And it seemed;@JustinTrudeau
The girl was treated immediately by RCMP staff and emergency medical services. She was taken to the Yarmouth District Hospital, where she was declared dead.
Mayor Pam Mood was not in the community parade but said it was time for the municipality to meet.
"This is a huge tragedy, something you should never dream of," Mood told CBC News.
"So right now all this community is mourning [and] very concerned about the family, the first respondents, everyone involved in this. Society simply spends time to calm down and make sure everyone is okay. "
The mood says that thousands of people come to watch the parade every year. She said the parade is an annual tradition in the city for about 20 years.
She says that mayors and colleagues from all over Nova Scotia have shown themselves to offer the city's support. The Prime Minister expressed his condolences to the city.
Sean Mills, a father and fisherman of Yarmouth, has begun a fundraising campaign to make funeral expenses.
"It's just a tragedy, a coincidence, and a terrible one. We all have children, and that may have been one of our children, we all were parading last night," Mil said.
Mills said he knew the money would not make the family feel better, but said he would ease the financial burden.
"I have a child of the same age and that's terrible news, there's nothing good about it," he said.
"I think the whole community as a whole feels the same way, they know it's terrible, it's supposed to be a good time of the year and a tragedy is happening and it's all over."
Search for help
Hutchinson said he knew there were a lot of people who had witnessed the incident, and suggested people seek help, including the first people who would be asked if they wanted it.
"If you are struggling with what you are witnessing, it is very important to talk about it and seek some help to deal with these emotions," he said.
A grief mitigation specialist will be at the Grand Hotel in Yarmouth at 18:30. Sunday for anyone to talk about this tragedy.
A spokesman for the RCMP said the police did not deal with criminal charges.