Aurorans come together for a Christmas parade to remember

·4 min read

Not content to let the global pandemic get in the way of safe and festive fun, more than 500 carloads of Aurora residents descended upon the Aurora Family Leisure Complex on Saturday night for a Santa Under the Stars parade that was an Aurora first.

Rather than travelling down Yonge Street to greet the young and the young at heart, in what has become his storied local tradition, Santa Claus parked his sleigh at the Complex (AFLC) and invited revellers to come to him in the Town’s first “stationary” Christmas parade.

More than 20 community groups and local leaders decorated floats and found their place alongside Santa as vehicles came in from Industrial Parkway North and St. John’s Sideroad to do a one-way circuit around the AFLC’s tiered parking lot to pass dazzling displays of holiday cheer.

For Sheryl Thomas of Marquee Theatrical Productions, whose group is represented in the parade year in and year out, the present challenge presented a new opportunity. Rather than having a few seconds in front of the thousands that normally line Yonge Street, budding theatre artists had something of a captive audience and used it to their best advantage.

“This has been 100 per cent positive,” said Ms. Thomas at the start of the parade. “The only disadvantage is we had too many volunteers and we had to cut back. How often does that happen? We had such a great response from people who are just dying to be part of something for the community.”

Volunteers came not just from theatre schools, but local companies as well who stepped up to help them execute their vision, including Priestly Demolition who donated the flatbed for their float – transformed into a capsule stage production of How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

“Anything is possible,” said Ms. Thomas. “We’re going to come through this COVID thing and nothing can really get you down. There’s always a way to get through it.”

This was a sentiment shared by Amal Mukhlis of Aurora Early Learning Centre, whose youngsters put on their creative caps to put together their own spin on the Grinch.

“Our children did everything – they the boxes, they painted them, they did a theme of something they are very fond at the Centre, and that is the Grinch and Whoville,” said Ms. Muklis. “They put everything together. Unfortunately, they can’t be a part of it today, but they will be joining us in waving hello to us. This is something we are very proud of because the children took charge. It is something very authentic and it came from their heads.”

Creative muscles were also being flexed by members of the Dynamic Dance Company, who have participated in the last three parades. In the previous two years, they secured honours for the Best Decorated Float, but the stationary aspect of the parade promoted some crafty thinking.

“Doing it this year was definitely different because we had to think about the fact it is not a moving object because the cars are coming and we only had to decorate the front,” said Natalie Silia. “Normally we have our entire studio here dancing with us, but unfortunately we can’t so we’re Instagramming to show everybody.

“We love being a part of the community, we love our dancers having that community feel and feeling like they are giving back with the holiday spirit. Especially this year in all years, I feel we definitely need the holiday spirit.”

Also participating in the parade were Mayor Tom Mrakas and members of Council and, representing the Province, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MPP Michael Parsa, who donned a “Shop Local” mask to drive home an issue close to the hearts of so many local businesses struggling due to the pandemic.

“People need this, we all need it,” said Mr. Parsa of having the parade continue in the community. “It is nice to get out and see people again – it is nice to see people again! This has been a tough year for all our small businesses. Please, as much as you can, get out there and support them. We hope everyone does that [after the parade] and throughout the holidays as well.”

Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran