The annual Brantford Santa Claus parade rolled through downtown Brantford on Saturday night, bringing lots of smiles, laughter, and holiday wishes to everyone. This year’s parade saw 110 entries (with 70 floats). There were marching bands, food drives, dogs, and even alpacas as some of the entries into the parade
This year’s theme was Christmas in film. There were a lot of floats featuring different movies, including: Charlie Brown, Star Wars, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. “The theme changes every year. Last year theme was 40 years in Christmas, essentially based on the first 39 years of the parade, ”said the committee chair of the parade, Shawn Stemmler. The parade goes on every year, which the theme changing each year.
After the parade ended, Santa Claus hopped off his sleigh and went to the public after-party happening in Harmony Square. The after-party had live music, vendors, and pictures with Santa. “Essentially it’s a party after the parade. Santa is there and the kids can get their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus.” Stemmler said, “I love seeing the kids smiling… You see all the kids light up when Santa shows up.”
“My favourite part about the parade is that it happens,” said Dave Carol, who was on the Freedom House Living Nativity float. “My favourite part is the fact that it’s one of the two biggest things [the other being Canada Day] in the community that the entire city comes together for. You see people from all walks of life coming together to do good.”
“For the last three or four years it’s been the same. For a lot of years it was different each year based on what the theme of the parade was, so we would change it up each year. For a lot of years Captain Kindness was a part of it, a character we created a while back,” Carol said, “but for the last four years, it’s been the Living Nativity… We have recreated the manger scene, so we have a full, really neat set that we use for the Living Nativity over in Harmony Square. So, we tear it down and rebuild it and rejig this thing, to be able to go on a big, giant flatbed truck. So our float is the stable, there’s bales of hay all over it.”
“Typically we’re in the range of 20,000 to 25,000 people. It’s a big event, a lot of people line the street.” Stemmler said, when asked how many spectators the parade was expecting.
There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on as well. “We have to work on the road closures… We have to do maintenance on the Santa float to make sure it’s fresh for Santa when he comes. Any other logistical issues with the road closures; making sure the traffic department has barriers put up for us; liaison with the city police and the auxiliary police to make sure we have traffic officers; and auxiliary officers for the road closures.” Stemmler listed off many things that need to be done in order to make sure the parade runs as smoothly as it can. “There’s lots of stuff.”