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Thursday, December 03, 2015

Santa Claus Parades

Let's's December third...this must mean that it's Day #3 of A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR!  Boy, I'm smart! 

And, for Day #3, I thought I would take this opportunity to share a personal story from my Christmas memory banks.  I did promise that I would bring more of myself into this blog this year, and I think some of the greatest Christmas stories come from our own personal experiences.

In this edition of the blog, I thought that I would talk about an annual event that takes place in most cities that observe Christmas.  It doesn't matter whether the town is made up of a few hundred people, or a gigantic metropolis like New York, Los Angeles, or Toronto.  I think that every city in the world is capable of hosting the Santa Claus Parade, and I think that whether you're two or ninety-two, parades can be a real community gathering.

Now, I'm afraid I can't remember what my very first parade was.  In all likelihood, it was for my first Christmas back in '81, but I was only a few months old then.  My memory might be good, but it's not THAT good!  But I do remember going to the parade every year until I was maybe thirteen or fourteen to check out the floats and the bands, and which local celebrities would be making an appearance. 

Oh, and I suppose the promise of free candy certainly motivated me to go to the parade every year until I grew too big to get candy!  Hey, I have to be completely honest.

But free candy aside, the Santa Claus Parade truly was a community event.  Local businesses from all over town would enter floats that were elaborately decorated in the finest holiday decorations.  Let's face it, the Santa Claus Parade was one of the greatest ways to promote your small business.  I know that my family often did a lot of shopping downtown because of the Santa Claus parade.

(Truth be told, I like the feel of Christmas shopping downtown as opposed to shopping at big box stores...remind me to explain why that is in a future blog entry.)

Anyway, back to the parade - even though our small town parade wasn't as elaborate as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with gigantic balloons shaped like Spongebob Squarepants, Olaf from Frozen, Baymax, Snoopy, or Kim Kardashian's rear end, our community really made sure that the floats were unique.

For instance, one float I always remembered as a child was the one that spoofed "The Wizard of Oz".  The float was decorated like the Emerald City with a yellow brick road leading up to it, and all of the people on the float were dressed up like Dorothy and her friends.  I don't think the float is used much now, but it was an annual tradition for years.

In fact, check out some of the photos of the parades that have passed through my little town over the last couple of years.  They are filled with small town charm and huge personality.

You never know what you will see!

(All photos courtesy of the news site Inside Brockville.)

You might see a band playing all sorts of Christmas carols walking down the street!  And, you know I have to give the bands that do perform in the parade a lot of credit.  Not only do they have to play in sub-zero temperatures, but they also have to play a medley of holiday favourites while walking down a street!  I don't know about you, but I had a hard enough time playing a song sitting down!

Sometimes, you'd have dance groups putting together a choreographed number down the street - which again is something that I absolutely admire, as if I tried doing the same thing, I'd trip over my own feet and end up falling flat on my face somewhere in front of Domino's Pizza.

I mentioned floats before.  Here's an example above.

Oh, and of course no parade is complete without the man in red himself.  This is Santa's sleigh and he decided to bring his wife along for the ride.  True story.  This year, my sister and I were hitting the church sales (another future entry to look forward to this year), and we passed Santa's sleigh on the way to one of the churches.  Of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus were nowhere to be found.  I'm thinking that Rudolph must have rented them a limo.  After all, they are the stars of the show.

Again, our small town parades are nothing like the extravaganzas that are held in Toronto or New York City, but to be honest with you, I think that's what I like the most about our local parades.

Have you ever been to a parade that takes place during the evening hours?  It's just like the daytime parades.  You still get to see lots of floats and you get the chance to get free candy.  But the difference is that all of the floats are illuminated with Christmas lights and glowsticks.  It really is magical to watch one of these "light up the night" parades.

My city doesn't do the night parades...but the neighbouring communities of Prescott and Athens hold an annual night parade for Christmas.  These are a couple of photos from the Prescott parade that was held just a couple of weeks ago.  I'm sure you'll agree that the work that was put into making these gorgeous floats was well worth it.

It's almost like being in Walt Disney World, huh?

So, here's a question for all of you.  Were you ever a part of a Christmas parade?  What did you do?  Did you dance on the street?  Play in a band?  Wave to people on a float?  Collect donations?  Hand out candy?  Played the role of Santa Claus?  I'm interested in hearing your stories!

And, finally...I just want to offer my sympathies and condolences to those people who lost loved ones in that terrible shooting in San Bernardino, California yesterday.  What happened was tragic, and if anything, it should reopen discussions about gun control as well as trying to find ways to prevent instances like this from happening. 

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