Hundreds of Beaches residents bundled up and converged on Kingston Rd. Sunday afternoon to celebrate the fifth annual Hamper’s Santa Claus Parade.
Hosted by Community Centre 55 as well as the Kingston Road Village’s Business Association, the celebration officially kicked of the holiday season in the neighbourhood.
Roughly 20 floats and groups supplied by locals and nearby businesses marched across the 40-minute route, traveling west from Victoria Park Ave. to Walter Street.
Onlookers received candies, hot-cross buns, Shrek-themed earmuffs, and other free samples from various companies involved in the event.
Volunteers from Centre 55 collected children’s letters to Santa, meanwhile members of the Beaches Alternative School, the Maplewood H.S Drum Band, Scouts and Girl Guides of Canada, the Toronto Police, the Beaches Lions Club, Canada Post, and MPP Maria Minna waved and spread Christmas cheer to the crowd.
Local resident Jessica Schmiedchen took part in the parade with family last year, but enjoyed with her family from the sidelines this time around.
“It’s the best [the parade], because it’s all our community,” said Schmiedchen.
“It means more than the big one downtown. You may see people you know in it, and it’s about local people and local businesses, not big corporations.”
Nathan Greene who was on hand with his two boys, pointed to the intimate atmosphere of the occasion.
“Less crowds,” said Greene with a smile. “The kids can see everything from a front row seat, and watch it with all their friends too.”
Not only does the event bring the community closer, it also serves as a kick-off to Centre 55’s annual Share A Christmas campaign.
Those in attendance were encouraged to donate a toonie to the program, now in its 29th year, which supplies turkey, toys, and support for local less fortunate families during the holidays.
Several members of the crowd also dressed up like Toy Soldiers, and wore ribbons in support of Canadian troops, another theme of the afternoon.
However, as usual, the best part of the day was saved for last. When asked what their favourite part of the parade was, youngsters Julia Happy and Erica Gabriel didn’t hesitate with their answer.
“Getting to see Santa,” said Happy.
“Santa, he’s the best part.”
Santa Claus arrived in style with his sleigh perched on top of a huge yellow flat bed. He invited all to follow him to Community Centre 55 (at 97 Main St.) where the parade officially ended and more celebrations took place.
There, Mrs. Claus joined Santa for pictures with the kids, tree trimming, festive music, face-painting, as well as free food and drinks.
The Centre 55 website titled the post-parade gathering “a VIP reception”.
It can be assumed members of the naughty list had to wait outside.
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