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events

The Santa Claus Parade Is Comin’ To Town

Changes for the 107th edition of a Toronto tradition include a new route, a prominent role for Mrs. Claus, and a Santa Cam.


For drivers heading onto the Highway 400 ramp from the eastbound collector lanes of Highway 401, the warehouse on the right doesn’t stand out. Just another non-descript suburban light industrial building, one of the dozens that line the highways.

Except, this one serves as the secret headquarters of a jolly old elf.

Pass through the main doors into the warehouse and you’ve entered a space few children or adults would resist running around—past the racks of animal costumes and clown suits, below walls lined with blank stares from moulded masks, around shelves of white mini-cars, and right over to the nearly 30 floats waiting to dazzle spectators along the streets of downtown Toronto.

Amid tuxedoed candy mascots riding waves of a caramel ocean, and classic cartoon characters awaiting their final touch up, the organizers of the Santa Claus Parade announced their plans for the 107th edition of the holiday tradition at a press conference yesterday.

The biggest change spectators will notice on November 20 is a new route. While the parade will depart at 12:30 p.m. from its usual starting point at Christie Pits and head east along Bloor Street, Santa won’t be greeting youngsters along Yonge Street. Instead, the parade will turn right at the ROM and proceed south on University Avenue to Wellington Street, then make a left and continue to St. Lawrence Market. Organizers feel that University’s width will accommodate more spectators than the limited space on other downtown routes. Santa Claus himself has endorsed the new route, noting that “you don’t get as much wind coming down the tunnels of the other streets.”

Santa was also proud to introduce a permanent addition to the parade: his wife. For the first time in the event’s history, Mrs. Claus is headlining her own float, which will immediately precede her husband’s. After years of staying home to watch the parade on television with the elves, she feels it’s time to observe the festivities first-hand. Her float will be a replica of the rustic Claus manor.

Mrs. Claus discussed one of the festival’s tie-in activities, a downloadable colouring book that teaches kids about volunteerism. The book can be construed as a recruitment guide for future parade volunteers, which would please its officials. As co-chair Ron Barbaro described the costumed children on hand at the press conference, “this is probably the first time they’ve volunteered for anything. They’re going to be in the parade. They’re going to wave at people and they will get instant payback.” Barbaro hoped that as a result of their participation, “the children will go on to be sitting out there as sponsors and volunteers for everything in their community.”

Children who aren’t officially walking in the parade will see if Santa catches a glimpse of them as he rides by thanks to a “Santa Cam” attached to his float. The camera will snap still photos along the route, which will posted online for anyone to download and, as parade officials suggested, stick on their fridge. (We hope that any kids who go to the parade and fail to be photographed won’t be teased for being ignored by Santa.) Some children in the pictures will sport red noses sponsored by the Emery Village BIA that will be sold along the route to benefit the parade and the Air Cadets; kids wearing the noses will ride free on the TTC parade day.

Meanwhile, the assemblies of paint, Styrofoam, and wood will be given their final inspections over the next three weeks before they leave the warehouse and fulfill their annual role of kicking off Toronto’s holiday season. But if that feels like too long to wait, we’ve got a sneak peek into the workshop for you in the photos below.


CORRECTION: November 3, 2011, 11:42 AM This article originally stated that the parade would turn right from University onto Wellington, rather than left.

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/WanderingPeng1 Steve Craig

    I’ve admittedly not been to the parade live in years, so I may be out of touch. However…when did the parade EVER proceed down Yonge Street? When my kids were little I took them every year and we stood at Queen’s Park Circle every time we went, without fail. In recent years I’ve occasionally watched it on TV for the nostalgia factor and have never seen it go down Yonge St. Did I miss those years?

  • Anonymous

    It will be a *left* turn from University onto Wellington, not a right…

    • http://alcovewriting.com Jeremy Woodcock

      It’s been fixed now, thanks for steering us in the right direction! Wakka wakka.

  • Anonymous

    Why did it take this long before someone thought of including Mrs. Claus?

  • therandomdialer888

    Looks like CTV is the media sponsor again, which is disappointing. Last year’s TV coverage was terrible; nothing but zoomed shots of the floats. No bands. No marchers. Lots of commercials.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the updates for the Santa Claus Parade! I’ve never seen it since I’m in Toronto, but your post made me put it in my agenda as : Do Not Miss! :-)
    Great pics too! They convinced me… a good place to shot for a photographer loving metaphors.

  • Andy Taylor

    That used to be the route I remember? Mind you I haven’t been in about 6 years since I moved away. When did they start going down Yonge Street?