Blue skies as Santa Claus parades for thousands downtown

Torontonians had a festivities-filled day at the city's 111th holiday parade

Even the weather wants to be good for the big man in red. It was all sunny skies and a light breeze for Toronto’s 111th annual Santa Claus Parade on Sunday.

Thousands of people crowded the streets of downtown Toronto to watch Santa and his army of festive friends march down the city’s streets.

Jeffrey Amoaka, a fifth year university student, was one of these people. This was not his first time at the parade though,

“I think this year’s parade was so much better than last year, and one of the main reasons why is because it was so warm,” Amoaka said. “I think last year it felt a lot longer because of the cold weather, but it was really comfortable today, and there was just no stress.”

The parade is the oldest of its kind, surpassing even the illustrious Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, and was watched not just by packs of people live, but also by millions of people on TV.

It followed the same route as last year, starting with Santa’s arrival at 12:30 p.m. at the Christie Pits Park, makings its way through Bloor Street West and University Avenue, and finally ending at St. Lawrence Avenue on Wellington Street.

Santa’s little helpers weren’t actually so little in amount, with about 3000 volunteers helping with the parade. Santa and his Mrs. were joined by much grander helpers also in the form of 26 floats, 21 marching bands, 125 celebrity clowns, and thousands of dressed-up participants.

While the festive music and vibrant floats were an attraction to most, some onlookers weren’t all that excited about them this year.

Dakota Bundy, a University of Toronto student originally from Nova Scotia, visited the parade for the first time this year, and says she was “a little disappointed” by it.

“I expected a little bit more from it,” Bundy said. “I thought it was going to be bigger. I have high standards maybe because I thought that the floats especially were going to be bigger.”

When asked what it was that didn’t really live up to her expectations about the floats, Bundy pinpointed the type of the floats showcased.

“There were a lot of clowns and animal costumes and floats, and in place of that I would have liked to see more Christmas-themed stuff,” she said. “I’d like to see more Christmas, winter-themed floats next year.”

This disappointment in the apparent shortage of Christmas-themed floats wasn’t shared by everyone though.

The parade had a special focus on Toronto’s various sports teams this year, with floats for the Raptors, the Maple Leafs and the Blue Jays all taking stage.

Most viewers appreciated this variety on display.

“I thought the floats were better this year,” Amoaka said. “There were a few more modern floats that were designed after modern movies and TV shows and video games, like Mario and Pacman and a lot of Frozen stuff, so I thought that was a nice addition.”

With the costumed clowns handing out candy and treats, and the marching bands, along with musicians in the parade, singing carols and holiday classics, the crowds had a day filled with Christmas excitement and festivities.

Many families set up camp on the streets downtown from as early as 8 a.m. on Sunday in order to get a good view of the parade. Watching out for Santa can be quite a long wait, which is why parents brought many of their own forms of entertainment for their children.

“I always have a lot of fun watching how much fun the kids have because usually even before the parade they’re in the middle of the street dancing or playing hockey or drawing with chalk on the streets, so it’s pretty nice to see,” Amoaka said.

The parade is one of Toronto’s grandest and longest-running traditions, and signifies the beginning of the holiday season for many.

“I think the Santa Claus Parade is a great tradition,” Amoaka said. “I had a great time, and I will definitely go again next year.”