Santa Claus de­liv­ers joy to his fans

Fire­fight­ers col­lect do­na­tions at beloved an­nual pa­rade

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - KRISTY NEASE knease@ot­tawac­i­t­i­zen.com twit­ter.com/kristynease

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

front.”

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.”

CHRISTO­PHER PIKE, THE OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN

Emma Holmes, 12, waves to the crowd Satur­day dur­ing the 42nd An­nual Help Santa Toy Pa­rade as it makes its way through down­town Ot­tawa.

CHRISTO­PHER PIKE, THE OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN

An Ot­tawa fire­fighter pops a wheelie on a mo­tor­cy­cle as part of the en­ter­tain­ment along the pa­rade route.

CHRISTO­PHER PIKE, THE OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN

A scout takes a do­na­tion for the Sal­va­tion Army from on­look­ers dur­ing the pa­rade.

CHRISTO­PHER PIKE, THE OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN

A young­ster of­fers a gloved greet­ing to the throngs of young and old at­tend­ing the Santa Claus pa­rade.

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