Season's first sighting of P챔re No챘l brings out huge crowd
Santa blows kisses and ho-ho-hos his way through downtown on chilly, snowless day
ANNE SUTHERLAND, The GazettePublished: 15 hours ago
Santa Claus ruled the downtown streets of Montreal yesterday as the annual holiday parade shut Ste. Catherine St. for several hours.
There were marching bands, clowns, Shriners in funny little cars, floats depicting elves making Christmas lists, a Christmas fairy and rapturous children clamouring for views of all of the above.
The crowd brought camp chairs, all manner of strollers, blankets to sit on and wagons to pull the overwrought children after the big event.
Entrepreneurs selling felt-covered and bell-bedecked reindeer antler headbands were doing a brisk business: $3 apiece, two for $5.
An a capella quartet in 1940s clothing serenaded the crowd behind the barricades on Drummond St. and some teenagers played street hockey on the deserted thoroughfare before the first marching band arrived.
Spectator Ashley Charette, who will be 2 on Dec. 19, was cozy warm in a fluffy leopard-print snowsuit as she sat on the sidewalk with her brother Kyle and her mother, Cynthia.
"She's having fun, although I don't know how much she understands," Charette said as stiff-legged toy soldiers marched by.
Ioan Bojdanas, 31/2, was a perpetual motion machine, waving his bare hands, both of them, at every float and cartoon character that passed.
Dancing snowmen with brooms, perambulating Christmas trees and a penguin lip-synching the Bing Crosby version of Let it Snow wowed the crowd, which in some places was six deep from the curb. Whoever did the facial make-up on the various elves, soldiers and fairies is to be commended; it was worthy of the Cirque du Soleil.
Elizabeth Garcia, age 3, and her mother, Stephanie, arrived 30 minutes before the parade began at 11 a.m. and got choice seats at the edge of the sidewalk near Bishop St.
"She understands the getting part (of Christmas) but I don't know if she gets the giving part," Garcia said of her daughter's comprehension of what was going on.
Alessandro Nielsen, 10, was at his second Santa Claus parade with his father, Bentley. They arrived on the commuter train from Kirkland to spend the day downtown, taking in the parade and just walking around.
"I used to write to Santa when I was younger," Alessandro said. "Now I just like the parade." With a mixture of sun and cloud and a temperature of zero degrees Celsius, the only snow at this parade was the artificial stuff the F챗te des Neiges characters were pitching into the crowd.
Crowd-pleasing stilt-walkers preceded the youngsters dressed up in pajamas, who urged the the spectators to chant ''P챔re No챘l, P챔re No챘l'' as if they weren't excited enough already.
And there he was, bringing up the rear, Santa himself, ringing a hand-bell, blowing kisses and ho-ho-ho-ing his way down Ste. Catherine from Fort St. to St. Urbain St.
An army of street-cleaning machines and their crew followed Santa at a respectful distance, vacuuming up the discarded cups, streamers and wrappers.
Ten minutes after Santa passed by, there was no evidence at all of a parade on the now-pristine street.
Except in the hearts of the youngsters who were there.
asutherland@ thegazette.canwest.com On the Web:
See the Santa Claus parade slideshow, only at montrealgazette.com
............................................Christmas not far off now............YIKES !!!