After COVID-19 forced organizers to alter plans last year, Londoners were eager to welcome Santa and his merry helpers back to Dundas Street for the 2021 Santa Claus Parade.
The 2020 Santa Claus parade was switched to a drive-in display at the London airport after the city decided it would not issue permits in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 due to a large gathering.
There were thousands of people along the parade route for the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season on Saturday.
The parade, the 65th annual since the event began in 1956, got underway at 6 p.m., starting in the east end and going west down Dundas to Ridout Street.
The theme this year is “A Cartoon Christmas.”
Two weeks ago, Ontario lifted capacity limits at outdoor, organized public events to allow for Remembrance Day ceremonies and Santa Claus parades.
Ontario removes capacity limits allowing for Santa Claus parades, other outdoor public events
Although some cities, like Toronto, opted not to do a traditional Santa Claus parade, Londoners were excited to welcome the return of a regular parade.
“It’s great that we are starting to move forward with the pandemic and it’s nice that it’s out in public — everyone can get out and enjoy it again,” said Benjamin Wharton, who was at the parade with his daughter.
London Majors player Cleveland Brownlee who was at the parade with his five-year-old son Cleveland Jr., saying it has become an annual tradition ever since his son was born.
“I am excited to see it back on the street. A lot more people can get out here because transportation was hard last year and now they can all get out here and it will be good for the city,” said Brownlee.
Mother Amber Wall says it’s nice to get out and about with the kids, especially since last year they waited in line for hours and were unable to get into the drive-in Santa Claus parade at the airport before it closed.
Wall’s son, Rhyland, said he is looking forward to seeing all of the decorations on the floats.
“I like making arts and crafts, and I like seeing all the lights and all of the crafts that they make,” Rhyland said.
The big draw for a lot of families was the very end of the parade, with an appearance from jolly old Saint Nick.
“I brought my phone to record it and I am pretty happy and when Santa comes at the end I am going to say Merry Christmas!” said nine-year-old Devon Cowin.
The parade included a collection of non-perishable food items for the London Food Bank, in honour of the late town crier Bill Paul.
—with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick
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