You'll want to watch out, not cry or pout -- or drive down Portage Avenue -- this afternoon because Santa Claus is coming to town.
And for the first time in more than a century, he's bringing Mrs. Claus to Winnipeg to share the spotlight.
The 103rd annual Santa Claus Parade kicks off at 5 p.m. at the corner of Portage and Young Street. The 90-minute procession will follow its usual route through the downtown and end up at The Forks for a fireworks finale at 7:30 p.m.
There are plenty of pre- and post-parade activities planned for making spirits bright, but more on that later.
The parade itself is at maximum capacity, meaning more than 100 floats will be joining the Jolly Elf and Mrs. Claus on their merry march. Add in all the marching entries and you've got the biggest after-sunset parade in the country.
"We're probably looking at 2,000-plus people in the parade itself," said executive director Ron Mark.
"We want to get as many Winnipeggers into the parade as possible, so we've encouraged all the entries to have walkers, costumed walkers ideally, to follow along with the floats, so we'll have more people than ever involved."
Olympic medallist Desiree Scott, who captured the soccer bronze at the London Games last summer, will serve as grand marshal. There's a real emphasis on youth in this year's parade, Mark says, so the Winnipeg soccer star will be accompanied by 20 or so of the young players she coaches around the city.
Another new float this year is a collaboration between Dynasty Bathrooms and Archangel Fireworks. While the latter has a long relationship with the event because of the explosive evening finale, he says, "this is the first time an actual professional pyrotechnic display will be part of the parade." (We're not about to spoil any surprises, but watch for a float feauturing a giant bathtub and extra shine on Rudolph's nose.)
The Winnipeg Santa Claus parade, which Eaton's sold to the Winnipeg Firefighters Club for $1.50 in 1965, is expected to draw up to 60,000 spectators. According to Environment Canada, the weather should co-operate, with partly cloudy skies and a high of around -1 C.
The event, which is made possible with the help of about 700 community volunteers and also supports the Christmas Cheer Board, kicks off with Santa's block parties at 4 p.m.
The parade starts at 5 p.m. at the corner of Portage and Young and will end at Main Street and William Stephenson Way. There will be post-parade entertainment at The Forks at 7 p.m., followed by a fireworks display at 7:30 p.m.
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