November is a time of year Santa Claus always looks forward to.
Taking a break from making toys and fulfilling wish lists at his North Pole workshop, Aurora is a top destination as he takes centre stage in the Town’s traditional Santa Under the Stars parade along Yonge Street.
He looks forward to seeing the smiling faces of generations as he makes the trek from Orchard Heights Boulevard in the north to Murray Drive, collecting letters and cards along the way.
When it was clear this year the parade wasn’t going to be able to take its traditional form, Santa says he was “devastated,” but event organizers at the Town of Aurora set to work to make sure this family favourite could happen in a new way – and he is thrilled with what they have come up with.
The 2020 Santa Under the Stars parade will take place on Saturday, November 28, from 6 – 8 p.m., this time at the Aurora Family Leisure Complex on Industrial Parkway North.
Rather than a traditional parade where revellers line the streets waiting for floats and bands to walk by, this is a “stationary” parade where it is up to you to drive past the floats, participants – and Santa himself.
While it is a way to stay healthy in this challenging time, there are a few added bonuses, including getting to stay warm in your car while greeting the man of the hour!
Ahead of the November 28 event, which is open now for pre-registration, Santa spoke exclusively to The Auroran about the new parade and the season ahead.
THE AURORAN: It is wonderful that you’re going to make it to Aurora before the big day after all! Did you have any worries that it might not happen?
SANTA CLAUS: To be honest, I was feeling complete devastation, but once there was a plan to move forward, there was excitement immediately. It is going to be new and exciting, and I am just thrilled it is going to be happening.
TA: What went through your mind when the Town pitched a stationary parade?
SC: I wanted to make sure there was still a way to communicate with the passing cars because normally I am able to project out and yell onto the street, so I was concerned and hesitant at first. But now I understand there will actually be a radio channel they can tune into and I am going to be able to speak to all the people who come to the parade through their car radio!
TA: Have you practiced your Ho-Ho-Ho for new radio audiences?
SC: Not only that, but I actually get to speak and share more information, too! Normally, when you’re at a traditional parade, I ride by on my sleigh and it is just a quick “Hello!” and “Merry Christmas!” As you drive around the actual parade, I will actually have more time to engage with people.
TA: What else are you doing to get ready?
SC: There are many new challenges this year, and we’re excited to find new solutions. I’ve already found a great mask that fits over my beard! I am focused on keeping everyone – including myself and the elves – safe. I’m actually coming to Aurora solo for the parade, so in a sense, I will be on my own, but I am okay with that because I get to see all my favourite children come by. I want to see their excitement, I want to see them at ease and ready to embrace the happiest time of the year.
TA: I know you see a lot of kids coming back year after year, but what would you say to new kids on the block, so to speak, who now call Aurora home but haven’t had a chance to take in a parade?
SC: Well, this is going to be the warmest parade of the season. Next year, hopefully people will be able to line up in Aurora’s beautiful downtown core. This year, which we have never really had before, not only is it going to be the warmest parade of the year, but it is going to be completely safe. I really hope that seeing all the different special guests, floats and decorations is just going to warm the hearts of all those in their vehicles and they will leave the Leisure Complex completely at ease and in one very, very happy mood.
TA: Is there anything you hope kids and families bring to the parade?
SC: Just enthusiasm, patience and flexibility as we all adapt to this completely new experience. I know people like to hand me letters on the parade, but that can’t happen this year. Before you leave the house to come to the parade, pop your letters in the closest mailbox and I will be sure to get them up in the North Pole!
For more information on the new stationary Santa Under the Stars parade, including how to pre-register for the event, visit aurora.ca/santaparade.
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran