Santa Claus has come to town to find out if you have been naughty or nice.
Filled with excitement and anticipation of Santa, children of all ages gathered together on a beautiful evening to celebrate the Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade on Sat. Nov. 16, 2013.
With a wonderful start to the parade and entertainment of all kinds, this year’s event was a huge success. Neighbourhood residents came together like family; some celebrating with bonfires, cheering on the parade.
Beautiful floats lit up the route, while mascots, elves, toy soldiers and other volunteers put a smile on everyone’s face, many handing out candy to the boys and girls.
Asked about the reasons for having a float in this parade, most responded that they were there to create awareness in support of various non-profit organizations.
It was a family affair for numerous people participating. Some who became involved in the parade for the first time thought it would be more fun than being on the sidelines watching. They wanted to help the community while bringing joy to children, families and to everyone celebrating the Christmas season.
Corey Savoie, manager of Superior Propane in Winnipeg, brought his 11-year-old daughter Priscilla Wonipowy along. She said, “(I) got involved because it was interesting and may be fun and I have never been in it, I have only watched it.”
Twenty of Savoie’s staff were there in support of breast cancer. All year long a portion of revenue pumped out of each litre of propane goes to breast cancer research.
With the theme of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Christa Mariash of the RWB said this year’s float is a newly created one by a designer from the University of Manitoba.
Supporting the Alzheimer Society, Priscilla Cole and Geoff L’heureux with the CARTE International Inc. float, brought together their employees to bring joy and spread Christmas cheer.
Mia Balanova and Amarjot Khalsa from Kildonan-East Collegiate were “feet off the street” volunteers. They are in the Human Rights Club at their school and coincidentally were standing across from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights when interviewed.
Marissa Zurba from the Winnipeg Parade Committee Board and a member of JCI Winnipeg, partners and host of the parade since 1975, said they have a campaign to save the 50-year-old original Eaton’s Santa Claus float through AVIVA Community Fund. Their goal is to raise $150,000.
Making her debut last year waving from a bucket in her own float (courtesy of Urban Forestry), with Santa following closely behind, Mrs. Claus (Carolyn Varnes) said, “There has never been a Mrs. Claus in 103 years; it took a century to finally let Mrs. Claus join in…what happened to women’s lib?”
Bystanders of all ages cheered wildly as the floats passed by, and waited in anticipation of Santa. When old Saint Nicholas appeared, everyone cheered him on yelling, “Santa! Santa! Santa!” Santa responded with his classic, “HO! HO! HO!” This is Santa’s 40th year in the parade and he wished everyone a Merry Christmas.
The parade began at 5:00 pm at Young Street and Portage Avenue and ended at The Forks followed with fireworks. Many vendors were open for this celebration within The Forks market, where music busker John Chesley was playing his saxophone for all to enjoy. The Forks once again proved to be a true gathering place and an excellent location for the final events that would wrap up the event.
A nice touch to end the evening, along with the fireworks, was the sprinkle of snow that ushered in the Christmas season. No better time than when Santa comes to town to start off the Christmas season with a bang, only to vanish out of site with his reindeer.
Organizers extended a big thank you to all who attended the parade and to the amazing volunteers who made it possible. The Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade would not be a success without the commitment and hard work of everyone involved.
Like Santa’s song playing to all the boys and girls in the background said; “I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart…Feliz Navidad”. And of course, don’t forget to write your letters to Santa.
All photos by M. LeBlanc