Santa Claus Parade

2012 Santa Claus Parade in Toronto tips

Santa Claus Parade

The Santa Claus Parade kick starts Toronto’s holiday celebrations each year. (Julia Pelish/

Story by Waheeda Harris Senior Writer

Power Rangers Santa Claus Parade

The Power Rangers float was one of the highlights of the 2011 Toronto Santa Claus Parade. (Julia Pelish/

TORONTO, ONTARIO — This fan of the North Pole’s most famous resident was an adult when I got to experience Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade. I remember standing near my house, a stone’s throw from the parade’s starting point, waiting with all the kids, each clutching their letters.

As it snowed, the floats and bands encouraged the growing excitement to see the parade’s namesake, and I was cheering and clapping  just as loudly as the under-10 set surrounding me. All of us were fixated on seeing the man with the white beard and red suit.

This year, the annual Santa Claus Parade celebrates its 108th year on November 18, with the festivities in Toronto officially beginning at 12:30 pm.

The parade has dramatically changed from the early days of the 20th century when St. Nick walked from Union Station to the Eaton Centre, a marketing idea of the Timothy Eaton Department Store in 1905.

Now this annual kickoff of the holiday season in Toronto is the world’s longest-running children’s parade and broadcast across North America and to a wide array of countries such as New Zealand, Ireland and Norway.

Residents will line the streets from Christie Pits to St. Lawrence Market — east along Bloor Street, south on University Avenue and east along Front Street to catch a glimpse of Mrs. Claus, elves, celebrants of all things Christmas and the star of the show: Santa Claus.

Parade-goers should be prepared to be entertained by more than 25 themed-floats (including a special 100th Grey Cup float), 22 bands, hundreds of volunteers, and over 200 celebrity clowns and clown kids who will be making their way along the route.

As for those kids who are eager to get this year’s list of holiday wishes and gift requests to the big guy, volunteers with baskets will be walking the parade route to pick up letters to Santa — who always writes back. And don’t forget about the Santa-cam. Digital cameras are taking photos of attendees along the parade route and images will uploaded to the Santa Claus Parade website, where photos can be downloaded for free.

Tips for Attending the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto

  • Arrive early to find a good spot on the parade route to see Santa Claus (and consider taking the TTC public transit system instead of trying to find a parking spot)
  • Dress in layers — it will take time for the big guy to arrive, so make sure you have extra gloves, hats, scarves and socks.
  • Bring a thermos filled with hot chocolate, tea or coffee to keep warm
  • Buy a red nose, available at Canadian Tire locations in Toronto, with the $2 cost shared between the parade and Jumpstart, a non-profit focused on helping kids participate in sports and recreation in Canada
  • Where’s Santa? Download the parade app to know when Mr. Claus will appear.

More About the 2012 Toronto Santa Claus Parade

Date: Sunday November 18, 12:30 pm (free)
Parade Route: Starting at Christie Pits (Bloor Street West and Christie Street), the parade travels east along Bloor Street to Avenue Road, south on Hoskins Avenue along the east side of Queen’s Park Circle, south on University Avenue to Front Street, and east to St. Lawrence Market at Front Street East and Jarvis Street.

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A Toronto-based freelance journalist since the beginning of the millennium, Waheeda has been lucky enough to visit every continent. She's always happy to travel, especially when she can swim in the sea, taste locally-made cuisine and spend an afternoon in an art gallery.

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