Last night was the Santa Parade here in Kingston. It is my 6th year here and regrettably the first time I’ve made it to the parade. This year I wasn’t missing it! I’ll admit that there is no Santa Clause Parade as great as the one on Miracle on 34th Street but, big or small, they all do a heck of a job at gettin’ ya in the spirit. And I was ready for some Christmas cheer!
Memory lane: As a kid, Winchester’s Parade of Lights was the absolute greatest. We had pride in the fact that we were the first night-time parade in the area, started by a great community man Mr Joel Steele. Bri and the Hydro boys put the banners up every year and I can remember feeling so proud every time we drove under them for the month leading up to the big day. Then they’d go up in their bucket trucks to turn off every single street light so the floats could glow in the dark. From the time we were small Kare would bundle us up, put hot pockets in our Sorels, and roll our wagon down the main drag of town to secure us a prime location. She always had a Thermos for each of us with hot chocolate and marshmallows to bring along. Mom, Dad, Mama, Papoo, and Aunt Nance though: in their Thermos was more of a hot tottie (if you can imagine!).
In Winchester, everybody knew everybody in the parade so it made for a lot of small town pride (easily mistaken as hootin’ and hollerin’). Our title as the home of Parmalat cheese and Dairy Capital of Canada meant that there was always a cow in the parade handing out Cheese Strings and that was better than any mini candy cane. Our neighbour was an organ dealer and every year he pulled his organist through the parade route in a clear bubble (not to be mistaken for the Pope) while she pounded away at the keys. The other floats didn’t veer far from the tractor and hay wagon standard. The highlight of the parade, as with any parade, was the finale though… the magic of seeing the big guy up in his sleigh and shouting up at him your Christmas list (every year he somehow heard it, I swear he has bionic hearing) was like no other. Again, we took pride in our Santa Clause… year after year Elzon rocked the red suit and white beard.
Saturday night’s parade down a packed Princess Street was full of holiday cheer. Floats were blaring Christmas carols and decorated accordingly. What I realized is that the hootin’ and hollerin’ from back home proved true even in a bigger city like Kingston. Santa Clause Parades bring a strong sense of community to the forefront. The thing I like about it, no matter what city you’re in, is the gathering and the tradition. Everybody bundled up, beginning to feel the magic of the season. Young and old, everybody shouting ‘Merry Christmas!”