Mr. and Mrs. Claus with child-participants of the 2015 Santa Claus Parade.

A glimpse into Santa’s secret float workshop

Workers are rushing to complete the floats for Toronto's annual Santa Claus Parade

There’s something extra special about this year’s 111th annual Santa Claus Parade — a float honouring the NBA All-Star Game that will take place in Toronto in February 2016.

But for Peter Beresford, president and CEO of the Santa Claus Parade, every float has a place in his heart.

“The thing that’s always special about the Santa Claus Parade is new floats, new magic, and new ideas,” Beresford said. “It’s always very topical — it represents nursery rhymes, fairy tales or fun activities that are taking place in Toronto or even Canada.”

Spectators will get a glimpse of 26 floats and 21 marching bands along with runners participating in the third annual Holly Jolly Run, a five-kilometre journey, that will kick off the parade, happening Sun. Nov. 15.

If this all seems like a lot of work, it is.

Parade planning starts in January and takes 11 months to complete. Beresford said it usually starts with gathering sponsors and deciding the themes of their floats to “make them congruent.”

Workers then scramble to finish the floats after the sponsors have picked their desired concepts.

Shannon Hipson had been working for the organizers for several months. One of the floats she focused on was inspired by Treehouse’s Little Charmers.

“It took around a week probably (to carve one of the three characters from the cartoon),” she said.

The float character then gets papered and hand-painted —processes that can take around two weeks to complete.

“I hope to get it finished by the end of the week,” Hipson said.

The floats aren’t the only attractions featured in the event. Ross Morton who is the executive Vice president of the parade said there will also be celebrity clowns, a tradition that started in 1982 where those who have donated a little over $1,000 can dress up and be a part of the parade.

Onlookers too can join in and display their holiday-spirit by becoming Rudolph.

“We also have, along the parade route, Air Cadets of Toronto selling red noses,” Morton said.

Proceeds from the sale of the red noses go towards the Air Cadets of 180 Mosquito Squadron and the funding of future parades.

The parade will assume its route starting on Bloor Street and Christie Pitts down University Avenue, and finally ending at the St. Lawrence Market.

Santa Claus Parade History

Show your holiday-spirit with these apps:

  • SantaSnaps – a mobile photo app that lets you take pictures with virtual red noses, mistletoe and Santa’s elves
  • SantaParade
    1. Ring out – jingles bells as floats pass you
    2. Track Santa – see where the jolly man is