'Tis the season!
Santa Claus is coming to MANY towns in the coming weeks. And in most cases, he'll be there rain or shine ... or snow.
“In 107 years the weather has never stopped us,” says Alf Iannarelli, General Manager and Creative Director of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade. “But boy, it's given us a lot of fun over the years, let me tell ya. We've had some really exciting days.”
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line the streets for various parades across Canada this holiday season. Depending where you are, that could mean dealing with extreme weather conditions; even in the city of Toronto.
“I've been with the parade 42 years and we've had blizzards, we've had torrential downpours on that day, but we always go,” says Iannarelli.
Samantha Twiss, the parade's costume supervisor, agrees. She says that varying weather means ensuring parade participants are prepared for the worst.
“I know in the past there have been years where the costumes have gotten rained on, everything's been soaked,” recalls Twiss. “We have to tell our volunteers to really be ready for everything. We tell them to throw a garbage bag in their pocket just in case they need to throw it underneath their costume. Whatever they have to do to stay dry, we try and go with that.”
In Santa's “secret workshop” in the city of Toronto, parade organizers work all year round making sure costumes and floats are ready for parade day. They're busy painting, sewing and carving, as well as preparing for whatever Mother Nature could throw at them.
“Most of what we have here is paper. A lot of the characters you see here [on floats] are covered in paper mache,” explains Iannarelli. “What happens is if it's a damp day, the paper mache wrinkles. But then when it dries, it goes back to being smooth. So it affects it, but not permanently.”
A blustery forecast can also cause problems for parade organizers.
“Wind can affect the floats in the parade,” says Twiss. “So we just have to make sure that everything's secure and that nothing blows away!”
For those looking catch an outdoor parade this holiday season, the Toronto Santa Claus Parade organizers have this advice.
“Get out there as early as you can because the crowds, especially if it's a warm, beautiful day, are going to be massive. Some places 15 people deep,” says Iannarelli. “So the earlier you get there, the better the spots will be.”
Both Iannarelli and Twiss emphasize keeping warm, as well. Dressing in layers and bringing hats, gloves, blankets and scarves will make your experience at the parade more enjoyable.