I simply love this time of year. Fluffy, white snow blankets the ground and people are bustling around town, seeking the perfect gift for their friends and loved ones. Churches and Town Halls have Christmas concerts, and stores feature a vast array of green and red decorations, all coupled with the musical sounds of the season.
This week was especially exciting for me, because last weekend was the annual Santa Claus parade. It is an event which I have never missed, and have stood on Queen Street during sub-zero temperatures, balmy evenings and snowy times, but at the end, it was well worthwhile.
This year, Rogers TV asked me to co-host the Santa Claus parade with TV personality, Sharon Lindsay. This meant sitting in a special spot, right on Queen Street, surrounded by cameras and gear, but most importantly, having an unobstructed view of every float, person, animal and band that walked by. It was simply amazing.
It made me appreciate how much work and effort goes into putting a parade like this together. There were over 50 entries and it all went as smooth as clockwork. We take much for granted in life, and I’m sure the Santa parade is among those. The fantastic effort, however, put in by co-sponsors, the Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club and volunteers, is never fully appreciated.
The thought of marshalling hundreds of people, dozens of dogs, fire trucks, and transport trailers filled with kids, is mind blowing, yet the organizers pulled it off. As the floats rolled by and people strolled along the route, there was joy and happiness on everyone’s face. Children were sitting on snowbanks watching in awe, as the coloured lights on vehicles sparkled against the night sky.
I have never seen, so many well behaved dogs, ranging from the Bernese Mountain dogs to the Guide Dogs, all eager to participate in the parade of parades. Musical numbers resonated against the historic buildings of Queen Street from concert bands, marching bands, float bands, Irwin Smith (a parade tradition), and even the Durham Ukulele club loaded up a float.
The highlight was of course, Santa himself, as he rode high above the crowds wishing everyone holiday greetings. My heart stopped when he passed us by and wished Sharon and I a happy Christmas. I was stunned he remembered my name, and perhaps this year, I will have finally made my way off the naughty list, and receive more than my annual lump of coal.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, published author, award winning photographer and keynote speaker. Watch his new show ‘ The Jonathan van Bilsen Show’ on YouTube.