The Toronto Santa Claus Parade
This parade was organized the first time in December 1905. It was held on the 2nd of the month and not around Christmas time. The initial parade began with only one float and it was an initiative of the Eaton’s chain of department stores. The Toronto Santa Claus Parade organization has now expanded considerably and consists of more than 1,700 participants, 25 floats and 24 bands. The parade’s itinerary is close to 5.6 kilometres long and it is considered as one of the most huge productions of this kind in North America and is even one of the oldest in the world.
From the year 1925 to 1970, the floats were sent to Montreal for reuse but this system was abolished because of the FLQ Crisis. In 1982, Eaton’s ended all association with the parade and this would have almost meant the end of it. The parade was saved thanks to businessmen and 20 corporate sponsors who stepped in to fund it. One of the most notable funders was George Cohon who retired from the parade organization this year. The parade is now funded by several large corporations such as McDonald’s, Lowe’s, Tim Horton’s and Sears Canada. Their logos are now featured in floats.
In 1983, the tradition of the Celebrity Clowns were started and still remain today. The parade’s route used to pass the Toronto Eaton Centre as a salutation to the former sponsor. In 2011, the route was changed towards the south. The Eaton Centre, however, still host the pancake breakfast, another tradition of the parade.