Santa is coming to town

“He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows if you’ve been bad or good.
“Oh, you better watch out, you better watch out, Santa’s coming to town.”
It’s a great Christmas song—one that parents have been using on their children for years to try and reduce the excitement that builds for Christmas.
This coming weekend, the jolly old elf will be making appearances in both International Falls and Fort Frances, and the streets will fill with young families all anxious to catch a glimpse of that symbol of Father Christmas.
And he’ll make return visits to the region to appear in parades in Atikokan, Emo, and Rainy River.
He already has had starring roles in the parade in Winnipeg last Saturday and the Toronto parade televised this past Sunday. But come this Saturday, he’ll be the star attraction on Scott Street.
Our home is just two blocks north of the main drag, and it was just a short walk for Marnie, myself, and our two young sons to stand in front of the Northwestern Health Unit building and wait for his arrival.
The parade used to be in the afternoon, before it moved to the evening, and it always seemed to coincide with the coldest day in November. In more recent years, it has been almost balmy by comparison.
Our sons would be bundled in their snowsuits and scarves, wearing their Sorel felt-lined heavy winter boots, and the two were oblivious to the cold. I think every child along the parade route is oblivious to the cold on the day Santa makes his arrival in Fort Frances.
Parents, on the other hand, seem to be one the ones shivering as they dance from one foot to the other to keep warm.
And when Santa arrived in front of them, their yells to get his attention were unmistakable. Just a wave from the jolly old elf made our children’s day and children all along the route.
Later when the boys were in Cubs, our pack participated with a float. The kids were excited to be in the parade and although Santa brought up the rear, participation was the big event for them.
Parents and the boys contributed to building the float, which seemed to be a big undertaking.
I don’t remember a single Cub missing the chance to be on the float and join in singing carols and waving to people on the street. Our leaders walked at the four corners of the truck and in the middle, moving the crowds back so no one ended up under the wheels.
Parades are big events in the community. The Santa Claus parade is probably the biggest one if you are a youngster or still young at heart. My hat goes off to the organizers.
And I remind you of what Francis Church of the New York Times wrote to an eight-year-old girl back in 1897:
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”

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