Tens of thousands Winnipeggers lined up under the stars along Portage Avenue on a misty Saturday evening to see Kris Kringle come to town in the annual Santa Claus Parade.
Holiday tunes and cheer paired with the swishing of snowpants and scraping of snowboots on the pavement as the crowd gathered along the parade route. The yearly tradition shuts down most of the roads in the city’s centre and marks the beginning of the festive season.
Parade participants spent weeks preparing the dozens of floats decked out with bright lights, eclectic characters and corporate and public branding.
Five-year-old Callie Hedlin had one of the highest vantage points from atop her father’s shoulders. Andrew Hedlin, who stands six feet eight inches tall, and his immediate family was joined by grandma, grandpa and the cousins at the event.
How excited were the kids? “68 million” times excited, they said.
What are were they hoping to see? “Fire.”
What were they waiting for? “Daddy, it’s starting!”
Lorlene Perrick brought her two daughters and two step-sons, who were all bundled up in winter coats, mittens and Winnipeg Jets gear. “They’re pretty excited,” Perrick said, moments before the paraders took off.
Even the Grinch, Cinderella and dogs made appearances at this year’s parade.
“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch,” blasted from a float carrying a green brute in a red suit who was caged up as part of the Crimestopper’s float.
A flurry of old police cars blaring their sirens also participated.
Diehard Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan Monica Cook roared as the team’s float passed by. “Let’s bring it home this year!” she exclaimed.
Cook has the team’s logo permanently branded on her body in the form of a tattoo of the football going through the W. “Why follow them and not be optimistic about it?” she asked. The Bombers take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday in the CFL’s Western Final in Regina.
Kathleen Vitt took Felix, who is nearly three months old, to his first Santa Claus parade. The two were joined by other family members.
“We’re more here for the two year olds who can kind of take it in, but we’re enjoying our time, too,” Vitt said.
Curtis Sankar perched in front of the bus stop in front of the Bay with all of his nieces and nephews.
“It was really, really fun,” Daniel, one of the children who was with Sankar, said. The kids were thrilled to see their cousins and sister marching with the Clifton School patrols.
But the best part? Seeing Santa.