By Abhisha Sakthievel
On November 20, 2022, the 118th annual Toronto Original Santa Claus Parade was celebrated. After two years of virtual celebrations due to the pandemic, this was the first in-person parade since 2019. This year, there were thirteen marching bands and twenty-six different floats ranging from Harry Potter to Hockey Night in Canada!
Every year, there are many types of activities to do, including the Holly Jolly Fun Run. The 5k marathon took place 45 minutes before the official spectacle, and there were nearly 800 runners, with the fastest time being about 15 minutes!
Other things you could do during the parade are, purchase clown kits to walk with the Celebrity Clowns, witness the Ontario School of Ballet perform to Run, Run, Rudolph, and partake in the 50/50 raffle! The 50/50 raffle runs from November 12 to December 18. There are 10 Early Bird prizes and one grand prize, which is 50% of the sales for the draw. Currently, the grand prize has an estimated value of $21, 500! (As of December 7, 2022)
Earlier in the week, the Toronto Star did a small poll to see how many people planned to attend the parade. 47% of people said yes, and 53% said they weren’t sure or interested. In a small poll with Harbord students, 75% said they didn’t attend, and 25% said they did.
Now, let's get into the history of Toronto's Original Santa Claus Parade.
Toronto’s Original was the first Santa Claus parade in Canada. It has been held consecutively every year since it started in 1905. At the time, there was only one float, which transported Santa through the designated path. But, as time passed, the festivities became bigger and bigger. In fact, in 1913, live reindeer were imported from Labrador, which attracted a large crowd!
In 1929, there were about ten floats. To top it off, that year, Santa landed by air and was brought in by horses, but when they ended up causing trouble, they ended up being banned from the parade altogether.
By 1950, this was the biggest parade in North America! Plus, during the '70s, over 25 million people watched the celebration on their TVs! By now, there were over 30 floats of all sizes and nearly 800 participants. Not even including the audience!
The parade was held for the 100th consecutive year in 2005. There were about 25 floats with many different themes. Toronto's Santa Claus parade is now the children's parade that runs the longest worldwide. They now also raise about $200,000 yearly! The procession is now broadcast across North America, New Zealand and Ireland!
When the pandemic hit, the parade went virtual. The first “Made-For-TV Production” was filmed at Canada’s Wonderland with artists like Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Dolly Parton! After the filming process, the organizers released a statement saying, “It was a year to remember as we worked hard to put smiles on everyone's faces through a …difficult time.” The 2020 - 2021 parades hit record views!
This year once again, hundreds of thousands of people attended the parade. Some visited again after years for nostalgia, and some continued their yearly traditions. Toronto's annual parade is one of the oldest and largest celebrated worldwide, with nearly half a million people coming together live each year and millions more who watch at home.
Have a wonderful winter break!