Car­bon­ear wel­comes Santa Claus for his 35th year

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS

Dur­ing one of the cold­est days this fall, dancers, floats and mum­mers crowded the streets of Car­bon­ear to cel­e­brate the an­nual Santa Claus pa­rade.

Al­though the par­tic­i­pants were plen­ti­ful and en­ter­tain­ing, the high­light was af­ter the sparkle and glam­our of the pa­rade. Most chil­dren lin­ing the streets Dec. 8 would prob­a­bly agree, the most an­tic­i­pated part of the af­ter­noon was see­ing the big guy him­self — Santa Claus.

The jolly old elf in red has been seen in many pa­rades across the world for many years, but Car­bon­ear has been one of his favourites for the past 35 years. At least that’s what he told The Com­pass dur­ing a short visit last week be­fore head­ing back to the North Pole.

In 1978, Santa had a re­quest from a fam­ily in Car­bon­ear to visit their sick child in early De­cem­ber. He obliged.

Santa has been known to visit sick chil­dren all over the world to de­liver them gifts, but he ex­plained this was his first time vis­it­ing a sick lit­tle girl in her home in this par­tic­u­lar part of New­found­land.

Santa stayed and chat­ted with her for a lit­tle while be­fore giv­ing her sev­eral presents. He said it was great to see her smil­ing face one last time.

When he left the lit­tle girl’s home, Santa made a quick stop to visit the fire depart­ment. Af­ter all, they were re­spon­si­ble for en­cour­ag­ing res­i­dents to keep their fire­places clean to pre­vent chim­ney fires (and so Santa doesn’t get cov­ered in soot).

It was dur­ing his visit with the fire­fight­ers he was given an in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend the an­nual Christ­mas pa­rade. “How could I say no?” Santa said. On the day of the pa­rade, Santa ar­rived in his of­fi­cial red and white garb, fit­ted with a leather belt and big black boots. He was the real deal.

By Santa’s side was his wife, Mrs. Claus. She wore a red cape with white trim, glasses and a set of bells on her wrist, he ex­plained.

His rein­deer don’t par­tic­i­pate in pa­rades, Santa said, be­cause they are afraid of large crowds. That’s why they fly at night and live at the North Pole. He parked them on top of Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal.

“It was eight sto­ries high, the per­fect place for the rein­deer to land,” Santa said, not­ing they could even watch the pa­rade from up there. The hos­pi­tal was the be­gin­ning of the pa­rade route. Be­cause he couldn’t use his magic sleigh, the fire depart­ment hand­crafted its own sleigh, and mounted nine wooden rein­deer to it.

When the pa­rade be­gan, Santa said he no­ticed all the chil­dren wav­ing.

“I re­mem­ber the small chil­dren call­ing out, ‘we love you Santa,’” he re­called. “I called back, ‘Santa loves you boys and girls.’”

Through­out the years, Santa had sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences in Car­bon­ear, but ev­ery year new chil­dren would join the crowd.

Now, 35 years later, some of the chil­dren that lined the street in 1978 have chil­dren of their own who have taken their place.

At more than 1,700 years old — he was born in the fourth cen­tury — Santa still does some of the heavy labour re­quired to get his pa­rade float ready to go ev­ery year.

For the first few years, he said, he helped some fire­fight­ers pre­pare it, but af­ter more than three decades, he de­cided to keep two helpers — Ge­orge and By­ron Power.

Santa ar­rives early to the pa­rade ev­ery year to help make sure he and Mrs. Claus will be able to safely get through the pa­rade, and to give the Pow­ers a help­ing hand.

“I have it down to a sci­ence now,” he laughed. “All the parts are num­bered.” This year’s pa­rade took a lit­tle more work than usual.

A strong wind from the ocean blew across the beach, knock­ing the rein­deer off the sleigh on the way to the start — which is now in the Home Hard­ware park­ing lot on Pow­ell Drive. Two rein­deer were dam­aged.

Luck­ily, the fire depart­ment met Santa in the park­ing lot and helped save the float.

When it was ready to go, Mrs. Claus and Santa climbed aboard, and it was busi­ness as usual.

Dur­ing ev­ery Car­bon­ear pa­rade, Santa uses a speaker sys­tem so he can talk with the boys and girls along the route. This year, af­ter the wind in­ci­dent, the sys­tem did not work. He said that wouldn’t stop him from get­ting a mes­sage to all the girls and boys.

“My favourite treats are choco­late chip bis­cuits,” he joked.

The real mes­sage Santa wanted to pass along is he would like to see the boys and girls be good to their par­ents and sib­lings, be­cause he is al­ways watch­ing. See you Christ­mas Eve He said he gets so over­joyed ev­ery year when he makes his way to the Car­bon­ear pa­rade.

“Me and Mrs. Claus look for­ward to it ev­ery De­cem­ber,” he ex­claimed. “I will try and keep com­ing for as long as I can.”

He smiled and said for 35 years, he has en­joyed ev­ery minute.

While head­ing out the door, Santa turned around and said, “Ho, ho, ho. I’ll see you Christ­mas Eve.”

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Two spe­cial visi­tors have come to Car­bon­ear ev­ery year for the past 35 years. Santa and Mrs. Claus en­joy their time at the Car­bon­ear Christ­mas pa­rade ev­ery year, and hope to con­tinue be­ing a part of it for years to come.

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