Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday: Santa Claus Parade 2010

WestJet has at least one aircraft that isn't a 737--this balloon was part of the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, Ontario on 21-November-2010

TORONTO, ONTARIO - In the lead-up to the Santa Claus Parade this year, I commented to a friend that snow seems to magically occur more often than not during the event which marks the beginning of the holiday season in Toronto. While the forecast early in the week called for sun, it gradually changed over the course of the week to clouds to rain showers to show showers, and sure enough, snowflakes were seen yesterday morning before the parade. While the crowds gathered and remained for the procession itself, though, it was simply a cold late fall day.

A Canada Post worker collected a letter for Santa Claus from the crowd at the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, Ontario on 21-November-2010

The parade traditionally opens with a group of Canada Post letter carriers collecting letters for Santa Claus, and tradition was honored this year. Following closely behind the walking postal boxes were the first set of clowns, throwing candy so often into my section of the crowd that even I ended up with my first candy cane of the season despite giving at least five away to children behind me and some late-arriving spectators.

A clown threw candy to rain on the crowds at the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road in Toronto, Ontario during the Santa Claus Parade on 21-November-2010

In recent years, I had found the parade somewhat disappointing, with few new and creative floats and the main attraction being the traditions from the beginning of the event to the end. This year marked a distinct shift. Organizers claimed it was the largest parade in event history, with thirty-one floats, many of them new, unlike the twenty-six mostly repeats in 2009. The parade went on for over two hours at my location, though it was stretched out by the 35 minute break between the first set of clowns and mayor-elect Rob Ford. As a result, it almost seemed too long. The number of people that left after an hour or so was much larger than I remember in previous years.

The Yogi Bear "Jellystone Park" float, to promote the new 3D Yogi Bear movie premiering soon, was one of the new floats in the 2010 Santa Claus Parade on 21-November-2010

Some of the new floats were quite interesting. A Sears float featured a snow blower at its front end, the Swarovsky swan fit in to the winter theme quite nicely, and the Eaton Centre float looked rather plain, but shot simulated snow in the form of streamers into the air, sometimes being picked up by the wind and delivered blocks away, just like real snow. As always, many of the new floats celebrated entertainment products being launched this year, from the Yogi Bear 3D movie to a Barbie float that some around me mistook for Prince William and Kate Middleton until they realized the woman on the float was blonde.

A group of skunks in the parade played dead in the middle of Queen's Park Crescent in Toronto, Ontario on 21-November-2010

The costumed groups of individuals are also a highlight of the parade. I always scratch my head a bit about the bears carrying fish, but the highlight this year may have been the skunks that periodically played dead in the middle of the road--I have to wonder what the kids were thinking each time they did that.

Santa Claus made his way down Bloor Street in Toronto, Ontario to end the Santa Claus Parade on 21-November-2010

Of course, what kids come for is the end of the parade--the reindeer, the sleigh, and Santa Claus bellowing out "Merry Christmas" to the thousands of people crowding every inch of the six kilometer route. Nobody leaves this parade unhappy.

Many more pictures from the Santa Claus Parade will be included in a future update to my photo site.

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