As perennial the first winter frost, the sign of collapsed jack-o-lanterns rotting in the alley adjacent to your apartment can mean only one thing: Christmas time is here again. And sure, it’s become kind of trendy to hate Christmas: to gripe about the commercialism and the crowded malls and the Salvation Army Santas bleating on street corners, trying to pinch your last penny to help “the less fortunate.” But if the annual Santa Claus Parade doesn’t make you believe in magic just a little, well then you, sir, are the kind of killjoy that not even a Billy Murray–style Scrooging could set straight. Bah humbug to you. To you sir, we say, bah humbug.
If, however, the sight of legions of clowns marching down Bloor Street and the hope of seeing the big man, Santa himself, makes you feel like a kid on some sort of holiday where presents are ritually exchanged, then you’re in luck. Because the 106th Annual Santa Claus Parade is right around the corner, set to lumber sluggishly through major Toronto thoroughfares on Sunday, November 21.
On Tuesday, Santa offered a sneak peek into his workshop (a modest warehouse tucked under the 401), where his staff of non-unionized elf labourers were finalizing preparations for this year’s parade. Santa’s right-hand-man, parade president Peter Beresford, was there to run down some of this year’s highlights while Christmas muzak piped into the magically functional parade float depository.
Chief amongst Beresford’s announcements was the declaration that this year, Santa is going digital. Finally. The Santa Claus Parade will be made more ruthlessly efficient than ever this year, with the addition of two iPhone apps. One (called “Ring Out”) makes a jingle bell noise when you shake your phone. The other, “Track Him,” does just that, i.e. track Santa’s progress during the parade to make sure you don’t miss him. Beresford also encouraged people to share their most cherished Santa Claus Parade memories on Twitter using the #TOSanta hashtag.
Santa addresses the crowd under the watchful, unblinking eyes of his benevolent Lego overlords.
When Santa himself appeared to address the audience, he was quick to note that all this newfangled digital jiggery was beyond him. “I’m not a tweeter or a texter or any of that other stuff,” Mr. Kringle laughed. We can’t really blame him. A guy who’s lived through the invention of the locomotive engine, horseless carriage, and atomic bomb has got to be pretty disenchanted with the forward march of technology.
So it was entirely forgivable when Santa confessed to being unfamiliar with Torontoist. “That’s new to me,” he said. “But dot-coms are the elves’ department. I’m a paper and pencil person.” He also gave us a smoking hot tip on what toys will be big this year, projecting that those encouraging hands-on building and more tactile play will be popular this season. (Though, as he begrudgingly noted, “that electronic stuff will always be there.”)
Beyond digitization taking the Santa Claus Parade into the twenty-first century and beyond, this year’s parade promises to be bigger than ever. And people always say that—that their thing is going to “bigger” or “better” or more superlative than ever—but this time it looks to be the case. The 2010 parade has secured thirty-two corporate sponsors, from Sony to Sears to CHFI 98.1 (see Erin and Mike in person!) and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals (we hear their float starts kind of limp and uninspiring, but becomes more impressive and self-confident over the course of the parade). More sponsors means more floats which means, according to Beresford, a parade that’s ninety-five minutes long at any given point.
So that’s where we left our gorilla heads! Right by the cyberspace girl hats.
That’s ninety-five minutes of floats! And candy canes! And Santa! And the Celebrity Clown Brigade! Running all the way from Christie Pits to the St. Lawrence Market. It’s bound to be a whimsical day full of holiday cheer and actual magic. And if you don’t think so, well, bah humbug to you.
Photos by Dean Bradley/Torontoist.
The 106th Annual Santa Claus Parade kicks off Sunday, November 21 at 12:45 p.m. at Christie Pits, proceeds along Bloor Street to Avenue, and then down to St. Lawrence Market. For the complete route, more festival details, or to check out the parade’s iPhone apps, head to the parade’s newly revamped website.