Santa Claus delivers joy to his fans
Firefighters collect donations at beloved annual parade
As the last few vans and floats made their way past the throngs of children and parents at Bank and Laurier streets on Saturday night, a smiling man in a CHIN Radio car decided he’d have a little fun.
“Santa’s coming, Santa’s coming,” he yelled out the passenger-side window to the masses. “He’s right behind us!”
The screams from the children within earshot were immediate and deafening. “Oh my God, Santa! SANTA!”
Some people quite literally gasped as the news spread up and down the line. “Santa’s coming! Santa’s almost here!”
And just a few minutes later there he was, in all his loudspeaker glory, a team of frozen reindeer pulling his giant red sleigh as the motorized float turned left from Bank onto Laurier on the way to City Hall.
The Christmas trees and floodlights lit every face with a warm glow.
“Eeeeeeeeeee! Santa!” one girl swooned, jumping up and down while grabbing her mother’s leg.
Nearby, a very small boy in the arms of his father burst into tears. “Santa,” he cried as the float moved on, “Saaanta.”
“It’s OK,” the boy’s father cooed. “You’ll meet him later.”
About an hour later, Help Santa Toy Parade chairman David André was celebrating with firefighters and volunteers at the Cartier Square Drill Hall. He normally walks the parade each year, but this year he oversaw everything from the corner of Bank and Sparks streets.
“We did very well,” he said. “There was a lot of people out, that’s for sure, and I think the weather helped us out on that
‘There was a lot of people out, that’s for sure, and I think the weather helped us out on that front.’
DAVID ANDRÉ Help Santa Toy Parade chairman
André said firefighters wouldn’t likely be able to count up all the toys and money collected until Monday.
Each year the parade, organized by the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters Asso- ciation, collects toys and donations for Ottawa children. This year was its 42nd run.
Some of the big hits with the crowd included an OC Transpo bus decked out with a giant Santa hat, glasses and beard, as well as the Tunis Shriners Air Force Squadron consisting of six airplanes that “flew” along the road.
Most firefighters collected money from the crowd with red stockings, but a few were seen with big firefighting boots.
Luminaries included CTV Ottawa anchors Graham Richardson and Carol Anne Meehan riding in the Bell float, Mayor Jim Watson and Fire Chief John dehooge.
Kiersten and Kevin Love — with their two sons Ben, 4, and Parker, 2 — almost missed the whole shebang. Parking was a nightmare, the couple said. Thankfully they reached Bank and Laurier streets in time to catch Santa. It was their second year at the parade. Ben was just a little shy. “Ben, do you remember the parade from last year?” his mother asked. “Yeah.” “Did you like it?” his father wondered. “Yeeeah.” “Are you glad you got to see Santa this time around?” a reporter had to ask. “Yeeeeaaaah.” Mom and dad, meanwhile, said they had a good time.
“It’s kind of challenging with young kids, though,” Kevin said.
“It’s right around the time they start winding down and stuff.”
“But it’s nice with the lights,” Kiersten added. “I think there’s pros and cons to both.”
Emma Holmes, 12, waves to the crowd Saturday during the 42nd Annual Help Santa Toy Parade as it makes its way through downtown Ottawa.
An Ottawa firefighter pops a wheelie on a motorcycle as part of the entertainment along the parade route.
A scout takes a donation for the Salvation Army from onlookers during the parade.
A youngster offers a gloved greeting to the throngs of young and old attending the Santa Claus parade.