Carbonear welcomes Santa Claus for his 35th year
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.”
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.