Dr. Avnish Jolly, Winnipeg, Canada November 15, 2014 : The Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade has marked its 105th anniversary this year. Eaton’s Department Store held its first Santa Claus Parade in 1905 in Toronto. After the overwhelming response in 1909 Eaton’s started parades in Montreal and Winnipeg.
Eaton’s organized its last Parade in 1965 due to rising costs. Captain George Smith, East Kildonan Fire Department, on behalf of the Winnipeg Firefighters Club, bought the Parade from Eaton’s for $1.50 and started the community based format for the Parade that has continued to till date. From 1966 to 1975 the Winnipeg Firefighters in association with volunteers from different schools of Winnipeg to successfully carry on the Parade tradition. In 1975 the Winnipeg Jaycees, now JCI Winnipeg, were asked to continue the community tradition and the organization took over the Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade independently until 2004.
In 1987 the JCI Winnipeg in association with the Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade began its relationship with the Christmas Cheer Board started collecting donations and non-perishable food items. In 1998, the City of Winnipeg hosted the Grey Cup. Manitoba Hydro worked with event organizers to bring a Grey Cup parade to downtown Winnipeg. Due to its success, Manitoba Hydro continued to parade in downtown Winnipeg. This event continued from 1999 to 2005 and was called the Power Smart Festival of Lights Parade.
When the Grey Cup returned in 2006, JCI Winnipeg, the City of Winnipeg and Manitoba Hydro in collaboration are continuing into one Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade. In 2007, JCI Winnipeg and Manitoba Hydro agreed to a joint-title sponsorship to hold the Power Smart / JCI Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade. The Santa Claus Parade then became a night-time, lit parade.
In 2012 and 2013, marked another milestone as a community based, leads the Winnipeg Parade Committee, guided and produced the Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade and initiated a year-round presence in the community. Hence this tradition continues with the 2014 Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade.
Santa Claus parades or Christmas parades are parades held in some countries to celebrate the official opening of the Christmas season with the arrival of Santa Claus. The parades usually include themed floats, dancing or marching groups and bands playing Christmas songs. It is a direct descendant of late Medieval and Renaissance revivals of Roman Triumphs, which had music and banners, wagons filled with the spoils of war, and climaxed with the dux riding in a chariot, preferably drawn by two horses. Similarly, the climax of a Santa Claus parade is always Santa in his sleigh, drawn by eight reindeer (an octigia). Roman Triumphs were themselves consciously modeled on ceremonies honoring the gods, and Santa Claus himself is the descendant of Saint Nicholas. The Santa Claus parade directly corresponds to the modern triumphal entry of Santa Claus.
The tradition continues with the 2014 Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade and it is the biggest community event and people from all walks of life participated in it. There are three stages in man’s life: He believes in Santa Clause, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus.