Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Though scaled down in size, the parade in Ottawa on Saturday was greeted by crowds of enthusiastic young people under a soft snow curtain.

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After being shelved last year by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Santa Claus parade returned to the streets of Ottawa on Saturday with extra security measures in place.

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Though scaled down in size, the parade was greeted by crowds of enthusiastic young people under a soft snow curtain.

Three-year-old Micah Spector was waiting for Santa to arrive on Bank Street and Fourth Avenue at 6 p.m. 11. He wants Santa to bring him a stuffed animal, Zuma, a Labrador puppy.

“He’s from the Paw Patrol show,” Micah explained.

Three-year-old Micah Spector says he wants Santa to bring him a stuffed animal, Zuma, a Labrador puppy from the show Paw Patrol.
Three-year-old Micah Spector says he wants Santa to bring him a stuffed animal, Zuma, a Labrador puppy from the show Paw Patrol. Photo by Andrew Duffy /Postmedia

Noah Spector and Laurie Clark brought Micah and his one-year-old sister, Anna, from Alta Vista to the parade. “The kids love Santa, and they love Christmas, so they’m excited about it, and it’s a great way to get outside,” Spector said.

Jessie and Chanelle Istead from Gatineau came with their daughters, Leah, 6, and Emma. 4. Both girls ask Santa for pink princesses. “I want a princess singing,” Emma said.

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For many, the wait for Santa lasted significantly longer than the parade itself. While they waited, mothers danced with their infants. Children made snow angels on the sidewalk, fired snowballs, caught some snowflakes in their mouths open to the sky, and repeatedly asked when the parade would start.

It arrived at Fourth Avenue at 11:53, driven by an emergency vehicle and two salt trucks, with an official in a loudspeaker demanding that everyone be off the road: “All the little feet must be off the road, thank you!”

The majority of the parade consisted of emergency vehicles: fire trucks, police cars, a water rescue boat, Ottawa International Airport fire trucks, a vehicle from the Salvation Army emergency services. Mayor Jim Watson was on a Christmas-themed city plane, and the Ottawa Fire Services Band was on another before Santa appeared.

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Six-year-old Marc Legault declared himself satisfied: “I love trucks,” he said.

Leah Istead, 6, and her sister, Emma, ​​4, say they both want pink princesses singing for Christmas.
Leah Istead, 6, and her sister, Emma, ​​4, say they both want pink princesses singing for Christmas. Photo by Andrew Duffy /Postmedia

The parade had an unusual level of security. Two layers of police protection – four cars – guarded Bank Street and Fifth Avenue, while cement barricades blocked Fourth Avenue. Several steel barricades were in place south of Fifth Avenue.

The extra security measures were in place after a horrific incident last month in Wisconsin.

On the afternoon of November 21, a man drove his red SUV in the middle of a Santa Claus parade in the town of Waukesha, a suburb of Milwaukee. Six people aged from 8 to 81 were killed in the incident.

The suspect, Darrell E. Brooks, 39, was reportedly involved in a previous knife incident, but police said he was not chased as he drove into the parade. He is charged with six counts of premeditated murder.

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In response, the Ottawa Parade Organizing Committee decided to adjust its plans. Instead of having three “mini-parades” – one each in Kanata, Orleans, and downtown Ottawa – the committee chose to hold a scaled-down event in Ottawa.

“As difficult a decision as this was to make, we focused on the safety of both participants and parade guards,” the organizing committee said in a statement. The organizers combined the Help Santa Toy Parade and Santa’s Parade of Lights.

Saturday’s “hybrid parade” started at City Hall at. 11 and continued west along Laurier Avenue to Bank Street before turning south and ending at Fifth Avenue a little over an hour later.

Unlike previous years, toys were not collected next to the road. Instead, toys can be donated at all Ottawa fire stations. Cash donations can be made at www.toyparade.ca.

Help Santa Toy Parade was able to create a smaller version of Ottawa's annual event to bring both children and adults many smiles.  Nothing could stop Santa and the firefighters as the parade went from City Hall, down Laurier Ave to Bank Street and through Glebe to near Lansdowne Park.
Help Santa Toy Parade was able to create a smaller version of Ottawa’s annual event to bring both children and adults many smiles. Nothing could stop Santa and the firefighters as the parade went from City Hall, down Laurier Ave to Bank Street and through Glebe to near Lansdowne Park. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

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