Chilling at the Santa Parade

Actually, it was the Vancouver 2004 Rogers Santa Claus Parade, but I wasn’t going to try explaining that to the kids.

I heard on the radio this morning that there were 300,000 people watching, which sounds about right for the mob we saw. We arrived 40 minutes before the parade started and were still about 8 rows back from the curb. Fortunately, we have a sturdy stroller, so both kids were able to stand on it and see over the crowd. The weather cooperated, too – it was overcast, but the rain held off and it wasn’t too cold (at least for the first hour).

Given that Vancouver hasn’t had a Christmas parade in 15 years, and that they had closed a major downtown thoroughfare for the occasion, I was expecting maybe 45 minutes of entertainment. After an hour, the kids were getting bored and cold. When it finally wrapped up after 90 minutes, they were bored, cold, hungry and whiney. Still, by the time we were loaded into the car and headed for home, it was The Greatest Parade Ever, so I guess we’ll be going back next year.

I thought it was pretty good, as parades go. A little too commercial, but that’s pretty standard these days. I do think, though, that if you’re going to enter the Panorama School of Dance, you might actually get your students to, you know, dance a little. Just a little. Ditto the baton twirlers – maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like to see a little twirling, perhaps a toss or two. Watching 60 kids wandering down the street, waving their batons aimlessly and with no relation to the music blaring from your tissue-rose-studded SUV doesn’t make me want to rush out and plunk down a couple of hundred dollars for lessons for my own budding starlet.

Kudos to the entrants for bringing a multicultural flavour to an otherwise fairly traditional Santa Parade. There was the Chinese opera society, 2 groups of dragon dancers, an excellent Sikh dance troupe, and probably several others I’m forgetting about ... and the Vancouver Pride Society proudly donned their gay apparel (MonkeyBoy liked the rainbows on their tree). Plus my old musical alma mater, the North Vancouver Youth Band performed (while I was delighted to hear them play again, after an absence of 20 years, I was quite disheartened by a significant change to their uniform. Back in my day, we wore very sharp, maroon, British military-style uniforms with white trim - sleeve braid, trouser stripes, and lanyards. And a truly hideous mustard-yellow tie. Well, someone evidently liked the ties, and all the lovely white trim has been replace with yellow. Ugly yellow. Not an attractive combination at all).

All in all, a pretty decent first attempt. They need to get a little more organized – there were more than a few 3 or 4 minute gaps between floats, which is plenty long enough for a short person to forget why we’re there – extend the parade route (300,000 people packed into 6 blocks makes for some awfully crowded sidewalks), crank up the volume a little, and shorten things up a bit (I think 60 minutes for a winter parade is plenty – and not just for little kids. I saw lots of adults heading for home an hour into the event. Cutting out the gaps would help).

Not that I’m complaining or anything – it was a great way to spend an otherwise dreary November day.