Manitoba

Santa Claus parade float starting to rot, but repairs keep it rolling

The elves have been busy getting Santa's sleigh ready for tomorrow's Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade, but it's definitely showing its age.
The elves have been busy getting Santa's sleigh ready for tomorrow's Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade, but it's definitely showing its age. 2:04

The elves have been busy getting Santa's sleigh ready for tomorrow's Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade, but it's definitely showing its age.

Students at the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology have been refurbishing the sleigh to make it safe, said Natasha Fisher, a spokesperson with JCI Winnipeg, the volunteer organization that puts on the parade.

It has a fresh coat of paint, but each year it's getting more difficult to repair because the base is starting to rot, she said.

"Underneath you could see definitely vintage Eaton's billboards," Fisher said, estimating the sleigh is about 50-80 years old.

"Not sure of the date. They're definitely old Eaton's billboards of some sort."

Fisher estimates it would cost between $50,000 and $100,000 to build a brand new float.

Saturday's parade starts at 5 p.m.

A number of roads will be closed ahead of time, so people are urged to get downtown early.

Several block parties will take place along the parade route — including the one in front of the CBC building — to entertain people until the floats start rolling. The parties begin at 4 p.m.

So what will the weather be like on Saturday afternoon? Check out this parade forecast from CBC meteorologist John Sauder:


Parade history

Eaton's Department Store held its first Santa Claus Parade in 1905 in Toronto and it was so successful that in 1909 Eaton's started parades in Montreal and Winnipeg.

Due to rising costs, Eaton's in Winnipeg organized its last parade in 1965. Capt. George Smith of the East Kildonan Fire Department, on behalf of the Winnipeg Firefighters Club, bought the Parade from Eaton's for $1.50. That marked the start of the community-based format the parade still follows to this day.

From 1966 to 1975, the Winnipeg Firefighters worked very closely with volunteers from schools around the city to carry on the parade tradition. And in 1975, the Winnipeg Jaycees, now JCI Winnipeg, took over the stewardship of the parade.

In 1987, the Christmas Cheer Board began its relationship with the parade, collecting donations and non-perishable food items along the route.

In November 1998, the City of Winnipeg hosted the CFL's Grey Cup championship game and Manitoba Hydro, along with event organizers, organized a Grey Cup parade in downtown. Hydro continued to sponsor an annual night-time parade, the Power Smart Festival of Lights Parade, in downtown from 1999 to 2005.

When the Grey Cup returned in 2006, JCI Winnipeg joined forces with the City of Winnipeg and Manitoba Hydro, rolling their events into one big Santa Claus Parade.

SOURCE: winnipegsantaparade.com


​Road closures

A number of road closures will happen to accommodate the parade.

  • Starting at 1:30 p.m.:​ Portage Avenue closed east of Sherbrook Street to Portage Avenue East at Westbrook Street

  • Starting at 3 p.m.: Southbound Main Street closed from McDermot Avenue to Graham Avenue.
  • Northbound Main Street closed from St. Mary Avenue to Portage Avenue.
  • Pioneer Avenue closed from Main Street to Westbrook Street.
  • William Stephenson Way closed from Main Street to Waterfront Drive.

Roads will re-open following the parade.