Mild, sunny weather made for an extra-special Santa Claus parade in downtown St. John's on Sunday, after COVID-19 restrictions forced a hiatus in 2020.
Gaylynne Lambert-Gulliver, marketing, special events and media relations manager for Downtown St. John's, said anticipation ahead of this year's event was high.
"I've had a lot of people say to me that they've started to feel excited about it because they think that it perhaps signals a little bit of a return to some sort of normalcy," she said.
Lambert-Gulliver, who is also the event's official CEO — that's chief elf officer — said parade participants "were just as excited to be returning to a celebration of Christmas for the community."
Despite being a scaled-down event compared to previous years, Sunday's parade brought out most of the annual traditions — like Mr. Big Stick, Maple Leaf's bologna mascot, for example.
The City of St. John's also partnered with the Autism Society to include of a sensory-friendly zone near the corners of Water and Prescott streets for those who are sensitive to loud noises.
A donation drive for the Community Food Sharing Association was also held by Newfoundland Power, who agreed to match donations up to $10,000.
'It's nice to get back to it'
Maggie Hyslop said she's been coming to the Santa Claus parade every year since her parents first took her there as a young girl.
Now, Hyslop is bringing her own children to the parade, and it's still as exciting as ever.
"It's nice to get back to it," she said. "It's like the kick-off for the Christmas season, so it's nice to start that tradition."
The mild November weather made the return of the festivities all the more enjoyable, she said.
"When we were little, we used to dig a hole in the snow pile and sit in that to watch the parade," she said. "So this is golden Santa Claus parade weather."
All I want for Christmas is...
Josie Norris and Dusty Matthews were excited to see the guest of honour, and to slip him the sealed envelopes containing their — albeit, short — Christmas wish lists: Dusty said she "would like to have some more Barbies," while Josie is hoping for a food kit.
"I will make stuff with it," she said. "I will bake stuff."
Aiden Whittle's list is a little longer: A skateboard, X-Box games, Baby Yoda, Legos and a camera.
But Maggie Brown was more focused on the guest of honour: "I'm excited to see Santa," she said.
"It's really exciting, because last year we didn't get to do it, and this year I get to see Santa."