Santa Claus parades

November 24, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

A couple of years after our return to Canada to live here in the Hockley Valley, I asked Patricia if she wanted to go and see the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto.

“No,” my eight-year-old daughter replied, “I want to be in it.”

She continued to insist that she was not interested in standing on the sidelines watching the parade; she was determined that she should to be a part of it.

As it happened, my cousin’s husband is a big-deal marketing agent, a chap who has written many successful television ads and who has fingers in all the pies. He knew people running the Toronto parade. We were all visiting the Patriarch of the family for a Sunday lunch and the subject of Patricia’s wanting to be the Santa Claus Parade came up.

“Oh, I think I can arrange that,” said the husband kindly. Then, sure enough, he did.

There is a lot more to a Santa Claus Parade than one might think. With our festive parades bringing in the Yule season last week here in town, plenty of work went into making them happen, with the many volunteers, planners, designers and drivers towing the fun along the main streets of Orangeville.

So, just imagine the added numbers of folk involved in a city’s parade with the additional extravagant media cover and, perhaps most of all, the security. Not all the clowns and bouncy people in Toronto’s parade are actors and acrobats; many are highly trained security people with sharp eyes, scanning the crowds for signs of trouble or disruption.

Naturally, there are also hundreds of people in the parade itself, including, in that year, my own Patricia, who was dressed in a red jacket, hat and gloves, with a painted red nose and driving a child’s size vehicle. Her job was to drive the little bumper car and wave like crazy to everyone.

She did this with heartfelt enthusiasm, so much so that the television cameras recording and transmitting the show, zoomed in on her for several seconds to broadcast that lovely wide smile to the world. It is a wonderful memory for us all and a tribute to her youthful determination, as well as the cousin’s assistance in the matter.

Indeed, a Santa Claus Parade has much to love about it. It doesn’t include messages about war; in fact, it is sublimely apolitical or as much as it can be, given that it also reflects society at large with the theme of the floats. In Toronto, the RCMP rode their horses; Scottish pipe and drums played their airs; the highly decorated, truly eye-popping floats bespoke of dreams and the fantasies told in much loved tales.

Most importantly, everyone was sporting one of those wide beautiful smiles that said, “This is about what is good and happy in us; this about us all at our most relaxed and affable.”

There has been so much said about the chap who rides in as the climax, after whom the parade is named, in whom people believe from childhood and never really give up; and who, in sharp contrast, parents, anxious for their children not to be raised with myths, deny at an early age: Santa Claus.

Funny how so many cultures have a story of tradition that talk about a magical person or, maybe, an elf, that used to come at the Yuletide, to bring presents to people, especially children, especially those in poor families, who used to corrupt the sour minded to see the light of love, of giving, of wanting to improve the lives of those with less.

Whatever name Santa Claus wears around the world, they all descend from the actual St Nicolas,  a bishop of the 4th Century, CE in Turkey, who was a giver of gifts, especially to the children of the poor. The myth – or not – of a man, an elf, a mystical being who delivers presents at Christmas lives and will live on, regardless of how cynical we become because we love our stories of magic and mystery. We love them and we need them, perhaps more than ever.

It is easy to put the pounding commercialism at Christmas time to one side, as pointing out how important it is to retailers and other businesses. A season to make money that, for some, dictates, in large part the success of the business. Let it be.

Turning our faces to the essence, the foundation of the holiday, this time of year that talks to not only to those of us who celebrate Christmas but the many people of our society that love this time of year for the sake of their own celebrations – all of it: this is the light in the coming dark of winter.


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