By Heather VanAndel
Toronto kicked off the holiday season on Sunday with the celebration of the 108th Santa Claus Parade.
Approximately one million people, young and old, gathered in the streets of downtown Toronto to be a part of the tradition that consisted of 30 different floats, 24 bands and over 1,500 costumed marchers, according to organizers.
The floats were varied and ranged anywhere from childhood favourites like Barbie doll and Christie Cookies to popular boy band One Direction, and the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup, now marking its 100th anniversary.
But the showstopper and clear crowd winner was the classic North Pole float featuring Santa Claus.
“Santa Claus is the favourite,” Philip Carroll, a volunteer marshall, told Humber News. “The kids all want to see Santa Claus.”
Though the parade has remained mostly the same over the past years, it has experienced some changes.
Margo Duncan, who has been a volunteer in the parade for 16 years, told Humber News the changes include the introduction of a variety of different floats, bands, and horse groups.
“I think that every year it changes up a bit, and there is something new,” said Duncan. “I think there is always something more to look for.”
This year one of the new attractions was the addition of the Grey Cup float, celebrating the centenary of the event which will be held in Toronto on Sunday.
Carroll said the reason people keep coming back year after year is because the parade is a great equalizer among people of all ages.
“Kids love it,” said Carroll. “They come from all over the metropolitan area and they get here early. And everyone gets to enjoy a great parade.”
Erin Risch, 22, drove from Mississauga to celebrate and watch the parade with her family.
“It is the nostalgia,” Risch told Humber News. “It reminds me of what it was like to be a kid. It may seem childish, but I will always look forward to Santa.”
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