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Santa wows young and old at parade

Posted: 11/16/2013 11:00 PM | Comments: 0

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  • Four-year-old Madeline Dunton and her mom Sally wait along Portage Avenue for the parade to begin.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Four-year-old Madeline Dunton and her mom Sally wait along Portage Avenue for the parade to begin.

  • Logan Bancroft, 5, and his sister, Asia, 4, wait for the Santa Claus Parade.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Logan Bancroft, 5, and his sister, Asia, 4, wait for the Santa Claus Parade.

  • Crowds gather to get a good spot to see the parade.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Crowds gather to get a good spot to see the parade.

  • A game of street hockey before the parade keeps kids busy.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    A game of street hockey before the parade keeps kids busy.

  • A game of street hockey kept kids busy while waiting for Santa.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    A game of street hockey kept kids busy while waiting for Santa.

  • Men sing Christmas carols at the Santa Claus Parade.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Men sing Christmas carols at the Santa Claus Parade.

  • Dancing Gabe leads the Santa Claus Parade on Portage Avenue Saturday night.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Dancing Gabe leads the Santa Claus Parade on Portage Avenue Saturday night.

  • A cheerleading squad shows off their stuff.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    A cheerleading squad shows off their stuff.

  • Winnipeg Jets mascot Mick E. Moose was among the paraders.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Winnipeg Jets mascot Mick E. Moose was among the paraders.

  • Giant robot puppets made by kids at Art City make their way down Portage Ave.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Giant robot puppets made by kids at Art City make their way down Portage Ave.

  • One of the Art City robot puppets in the parade.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    One of the Art City robot puppets in the parade.

  • A fire truck decked out in lights and decorations makes its way down Portage Avenue.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    A fire truck decked out in lights and decorations makes its way down Portage Avenue.

  • An old Winnipeg Transit bus is covered in lights as part of the parade.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    An old Winnipeg Transit bus is covered in lights as part of the parade.

  • A vintage Winnipeg police car was part of the parade.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    A vintage Winnipeg police car was part of the parade.

  • The Winnipeg Police Service float featured the Grinch, who was safely behind bars during the parade.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    The Winnipeg Police Service float featured the Grinch, who was safely behind bars during the parade.

  • Horses and their riders make their way down Portage Ave.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Horses and their riders make their way down Portage Ave.

  • A group of adults and children wave at Santa as he passes by.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    A group of adults and children wave at Santa as he passes by.

  • Santa was popular with both children and adults as he and his crew made their way down Portage Ave.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Santa was popular with both children and adults as he and his crew made their way down Portage Ave.

  • Crowds along Portage Ave. greeted Santa with big smiles and lots of waving.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Crowds along Portage Ave. greeted Santa with big smiles and lots of waving.

  • Large crowds gathered in front of the Manitoba Hydro building.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Large crowds gathered in front of the Manitoba Hydro building.

  • Santa Claus and his float move past the MTS Centre on Portage Ave.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Santa Claus and his float move past the MTS Centre on Portage Ave.

  • Santa and his reindeer were looking good at the parade.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Santa and his reindeer were looking good at the parade.

  • Santa waves to all the good little girls and boys.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Santa waves to all the good little girls and boys.

  • A float lets off some pyrotechnics.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    A float lets off some pyrotechnics.

  • Santa waves to the crowd in front of the Richardson Building.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Santa waves to the crowd in front of the Richardson Building.

  • Fireworks light up the night sky at The Forks following the Santa Claus Parade.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Fireworks light up the night sky at The Forks following the Santa Claus Parade.

  • A spectator takes a photo of fireworks set off at The Forks following the parade.

    TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    A spectator takes a photo of fireworks set off at The Forks following the parade.

Premature arrival aside — and yes, the lack of snow and above-normal temperatures play tricks with the mind sometimes — the one they call Santa Claus made his way though Winnipeg Saturday night.

And even though the big guy in the red suit arrived 39 days ahead of plan — well before his regularly scheduled time to shine — the early returns from an adoring fan base offered little complaint. Santa Claus is Justin Bieber or Justin Timberlake backed up by the Beatles. Or to put it another way, the jolly old fellow is a rock star, as his presence above a standing-room-only crowd proved once again.

Why are you here, Anna Robinson?

"To see Santa Claus," the five-year-old beamed prior to the 104th annual Santa Claus Parade through downtown Winnipeg early Saturday evening. "I want to see Santa."

Rookies take note for next year: Most hoping to catch a glimpse of St. Nick Saturday had obviously done this before. Two hours before the scheduled start people were already setting up lawn chairs and blankets curb-side. "You have to get here early to get a good spot," offered Shirley Janzen, who was joined by her four-year-old son Sam.

So what do you want for Christmas, Sam?

"A Christmas tree," he shouted.

Well, aren’t you just adorable?

The warm-up acts — not that the tens of thousands lining Portage Avenue to take in the event needed to be heated up thanks to another November day of above zero temperatures — came and went, with more finding hits than misses.

The radio station dance party looked fun. The Art City robots and "van of speakers" certainly found an audience. The Winnipeg Jets exhibit, complete with organ music and a standard "Go Jets Go" chant preached to the choir, which stood a dozen people deep on the sidewalks.

Even before the almost-100 floats floated along Portage Ave., organizers put a different twist on things. Fourteen little block parties, making up most of the 16-block parade route, started an hour before Santa even climbed into his sleigh. Part of the idea was not only to make the experience for children longer, but to encourage people to find a safe vantage point well in advance of the holiday-season procession.

If those side-stage events didn’t work to get people downtown, the free sugar cookies and hot chocolate before the parade did.

And before you knew it, once the supporting cast passed through, it was time for the headliner.

After Mrs. Claus stole the spotlight (surprising more than a few children along the way), Santa arrived on the scene in his traditional mode of transport. He’s put a few miles on his old sleigh and its road-worthiness had been put in question in the months leading up to the event, but some quick work by elves, er... students, at Winnipeg Technical College, made it street legal once again.

"There he is," exclaimed a young girl, her face pressed up against the glass inside the MTS Centre atrium. "I see him."

It was a rare and familiar sighting, all in one shot.

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca

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