Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Santa Parade

Last week my dear friend from camp texted me to ask if I was interested in going to the annual Santa Claus Parade with her on Saturday. A Santa Parade? Was I interested? Of course! I've never been to a Santa Parade.

In the big city of Atlanta we just don't have "small town" things like that. A Santa Parade is not a "big city" thing. Curiously, even the smaller Tennessee and Florida towns I've recently lived in didn't have a Santa Parade either. It must be the lack of winter wonderland/snow thing.

Actually, I had heard about the Santa Parade before it was mentioned by Annie. Every Saturday morning we venture out to the downtown market to get fresh coffee, stock up on fresh, inexpensive produce, discover delicious jelly, eat breakfast burritos, grab a fresh-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls, buy samosas and chicken curry for dinner and snag gorgeous colored, beeswax candles made by an adorable old man (ok, that only happened once but I may get some Christmas colored candles this weekend). The week before my Southern Thanksgiving I was chatting with the produce woman about sweet potatoes and telling her about my impending dinner party. She said, "Oh, American Thanksgiving is the same weekend as our Santa Parade." I couldn't believe The Canadian hadn't told me about this mysterious parade! How dare he not mention something so festive? In the States, Thanksgiving kicks off the Holiday season. It declares open season on all things Christmas. You hang your tree, put up lights, whip out the nativity get the idea. But in Canada....what kicks off the holidays? As it turns out, the Santa Parade does. Well, at least in our Maritime town.

To get ready for the Santa Parade, Annie and I stocked up on Bailey's and hot chocolate. We dug out a thermos. I (attempted to) set my camera for night shooting. We layered up. We prayed for snow. And it worked! The parade was wonderful. It made me proud to call this town my (new) home.

The snow had finally stopped and the slush had finally dried by the day of the parade. Then, an hour before the start, Obwana (the god of weather, according to camp) let the heavens open...and the snow started. 

And it kept comin'. I'm talking big flakes. The kind that makes you want an umbrella over your eskimo hood.

The whole town came out for the parade. I think I read the city was expecting 100,000 folks. Not bad for a town of 128,000. 

There were kids everywhere. Dogs, too. I knew I should have brought the monsters. I just didn't have enough hands.

Isn't that sweet little girl adorable in her colorful heart snow suit? You know she was excited to see the Big Man (Santa).

And do you know what is inside this backpack thingy? Nope, that black thing poking out is not a full-head-of-hair baby. It's a dog. Is this normal? I don't think so.

Annie and I walked up and down Main Street for a while trying to scout out the perfect spot. We were perfectly warm in our boots, mitts, scarves and hats. Not to mention the warm beverages in our hands. Anyway, we didn't mind walking all over tarnation.

We finally got to City Hall. Don't the lights look good?

Then we found the giant Christmas tree. I tell you, staring at the giant tree while big, fluffy snow flakes fell around me was something out a movie. Well, at least a Lifetime movie.

Anyway, the parade finally started...

First up was the RCMP. American translation: Cops, The Police, The Boys in Blue. 

RCMP = Royal Canadian Mounted Police. What are they mounted on, I wonder?

How exciting is this?! There are people in Canada that know football! 

I should have introduced myself.

Of course, there were elves. I don't know why they chose that slogan, but it totally reminds me of a little education issue that is going on in the USA right now. I mentioned it, but the Canadians didn't know what on Earth I was talking about.

The kids were waiting with bated breath Saint Nick to roll down the street. I don't think they cared about anything else. Not even.....

A snow man made of balloons! How creative! 

I feel bad for whatever poor bastard was suffocating under all those balloons.

The local EMT's made an appearance. Don't worry, no one was hurt. That was their idea of a float.

Then we needed a refill. Which involved taking off our mitts. Mine never got all the way back on.

Note to the southern girl: don't take off your mitts in heavy snow.

Then came the fire department.

Wait for it.....

Then came a marching band. Then the marching band stopped marching. While they were stopped I got a good look at this weird instrument. What is it? We don't have those in America. I asked Annie about it and while she didn't know the name of the instrument she did know that its pretty common round these parts. Seriously, what is it?

I didn't think much of the pause in the parade, but then everyone started cheering and clapping.

The fire truck died. Don't worry, the super buff fire fighters pushed it the rest of the way. 

No big deal.

Hey, Elvis! Glad to know I'm not the only Tennessee fan around here.

This has got to be the brightest float this side of the Mississippi. I wonder if Canadians know the little tune to help remember how to spell Mississippi?

Seriously, it was blinding. Home Hardware (pronounced Lowe's) put this baby together. I think I would have been disappointed in anything less. After all, they are the supplier of all things Christmas decor.

See? Even the floats are bilingual! Did you know New Brunswick is the only province that is officially bilingual? True story.

And then, finally....


Here comes Santa Claus,
Here comes Santa Clause....
Sing with me!

Right down Santa Claus Lane...

Fine. Don't sing.


Anyway, seeing Santa was pretty exciting. Actually, it was super exciting. I don't think I've seen him since I was like six. 

By the time we walked back through the winter wonderland, we were a hot mess: 

Annie's hair is literally frozen. 
I had to scoop snow out of her hood.
My thighs looked sunburned. 
My mitts were only half on.
We had to pick ice out of Annie's scarf.
We needed wine to warm us up. The Bailey's was wearing off.
Oh yeah, mascara was everywhere but where it was supposed to be.

I consider that a pretty good night.

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