Parade-goers cheered on Santa Claus and his little helpers — including a crew of elves who helped restore power to the province during the unprecedented autumn snow storm — during the 110th annual holiday parade.
Tens of thousands of people lined up along Portage Avenue Saturday night to listen to holiday tunes and watch 70 festive floats pass by in the 2019 Santa Claus Parade.
The event’s presenting sponsor, Manitoba Hydro entered multiple brightly lit floats in the parade to pay tribute to its crews’ storm response and thank the public for their patience during the worst power outage in the province’s history.
For the first time, hydro workers and their families were invited to hop aboard them.
"Tonight’s about fun. Tonight’s about giving back and tonight is just our way of saying thank you," Manitoba Hydro spokesman Bruce Owen told the Free Press.
Before the parade officially got underway, Owen said the plan was to drive a decked out bucket truck with a storm response banner on it and have a team of horses haul a candy carousel.
"They definitely deserve the recognition if they’ve been out working so hard at getting things back up in order and hopefully we don’t get another storm that will take them away from a second holiday this year," said Sean McGrath, an attendee who came to the parade with his mom and two Boston terriers, who he swaddled in blankets.
McGrath kept his eyes on the costumed volunteers and fancy floats, including the brightly lit bucket truck and other unique sights such as the Truth North Sports and Entertainment’s hockey-rink float and the Crime Stoppers’ imprisoned Grinch display.
Hydro workers aside, the three wise men, human candy canes and snowmen, and of course, the event’s namesake, were in attendance at this year’s parade.
When Santa Claus finally pulled up in his sleigh, children shouted from the streets for his attention.
Amber Mamchuk and her five-year-old daughter Nora anxiously awaited his arrival across from the University of Winnipeg. Nora said she had already asked Santa for a new dress for Christmas.
The duo accompanied their friend Meagen Vallis and her family to this year’s event.
"It’s the start of Christmas for us so we come and watch and get really excited," Vallis said, adding it’s now time to put up her holiday decorations.
"It’s just nice for the kids to keep going to it and to look forward to it and having events that are free that we can come to."
Down the street, newcomers Youchen Wang and his daughter Ava took in their first Winnipeg parade in awe.
"It’s new for us — new culture, new experience," said Wang. "The most important thing is just to show her, to get this atmosphere and the environment." Sporting rosy cheeks and a smile, he said he plans to come back next year for the 111th event — "if it’s not that cold."
Parade director Monica Derksen said Saturday afternoon about 60,000 people were expected to attend the 2019 event, a larger turnout than one year earlier as a result of the moderate temperature. It was about 2 C throughout the parade and while there was a drizzle, parade-goers bundled up, some wearing red hats with a white-fur trim to keep their heads warm.
— with files from Katie May.
Maggie is a cub reporter who covers every beat in the newsroom. She appreciates alliteration, when newspaper ink stains her fingertips and, more importantly, tips on social and environmental equity issues.