Sunday, December 12, 2010

Santa Claus Comes to Town - III

A few weeks after the 1951 parade had made its way through the streets of downtown Toronto the preparations began for the 1952 edition. Eaton's Special Projects manager began meeting with designers and the construction chief in their suburban workshop. The final designs and plans were settled on in late February and work could begin.

I seem to recall that the only real horses we saw in the parade were those ridden by the Toronto Police Mounted Squad at the beginning of the parade - even Cinderella's steeds were created in the Weston workshops. Unlike today when many floats are created from Styrofoam, in the 1950-60s they were constructed from plywood, papier mâché and wallboard. Forms were cut and shaped on metal, chicken-wire and wood frameworks.

Metallic papers and gallons of paints gave them colour and texture. Floats could take anywhere from two weeks to two months to complete depending on the complexity of the design and animation effects required.

From the earliest days Eaton's floats were known for their animation effects - sew-saws, turntables, prancing reindeer and moving figures. Up until the 1980s the dynamics of movement were accomplished in the simplest manner possible - students hidden within the frameworks manipulated the gears.

12 decembre - Santa Giovanna Francesca Frémiot de Chantal
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1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I remember watching the Eaton's Santa Claus parade on TV in the 1960s and being enthralled by the wonderful floats. We could not hope to see anything in real life like that in our small one-horse prairie town!