Saturday, December 18, 2010

Santa Claus Comes to Town - V

Eaton's mounted their first parade for their Montreal customers in 1925 and the tradition continued every year until the FLQ bomb threats in 1969. It was canceled that year and never ran again under Eaton's sponsorship.
The Monday after the parade in Toronto - no one at Eaton's worked on a Sunday, in fact the curtains were closed on their store windows on the "Lord's Day" - many of the floats and all of the costumes would be loaded on freight trains and shipped the 550 kms distance between Toronto and Montreal.

Children who appeared in the parade were often on a waiting list for three years before they were chosen. They were paid a small amount and rewarded with cookies and hot chocolate at the beginning and end of the parade.

The parades were taken over by civic groups after Eatons' discontinued sponsorship and the Toronto and Winnipeg parades continued uninterrupted. There was a decade or more lapse before it was to recommence in Montreal.

It was a long wait before the Parade began and we were always bundled up warm for the parade parkas, scarfs, gloves and toques. But just to remind us that it was even colder where Santa Claus came from he was always preceded by a display of ice and snow.

18 decembre - San Malachia O'Morgair

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful memories Will. I can relate to a lot of them. Were you ever "in" the parade? I always wanted to but never was. (It might have had something to do with how early you had to be there.) I remember our family going to see "White Christmas" one year after a parade. It was in one of the huge, magnificent movie theatres that used to be downtown.