Santa Claus is coming to town

Santa Claus will be coming to town this Saturday, and also making appearances throughout the district over the next several weeks.
This annual time of fun, mystery, and magic rekindles memories in everyone.
George Minor used to play the role of Santa Claus for many years in Fort Frances, and I suspect he mirrored the character of Kris Kringle played by Edmund Gwenn in “Miracle on 34th Street” filmed in 1947.
He believed he was Santa and, as children, we believed that he was, too.
For several decades, George came into Fort Frances pulled by his reindeer in the Rotary Club’s annual Santa Claus parade. We lined the streets on the Saturday afternoon in great anticipation of catching a glimpse of the jolly old elf.
George had that twinkle in his eye, and that soft approach to putting children at ease. His belt of bells jingled a merry tune as he entered a hall and on that Saturday when he came to town, the sound of Santa’s bells could be heard a block away.
As long as he was able, George was the Fort’s Santa. Many have followed in his footsteps; each with their own interpretation of Santa but all adding to the excitement of young children’s imagination.
A child’s mind for fantasy is magical, and the sounds of the Santa parade are etched in my mind forever. I hoped my children would find the same magic in a Santa Claus parade.
For decades, the local Rotary Club hosted the parade. In my early memories, the parade happened on a Saturday morning and crossed over the border, uniting both Fort Frances and International Falls with a common Santa Claus parade.
I only remember this because the Order of the Eastern Star had a float and I played a fiddler to a king in the parade.
We were bundled with multiple layers of jackets to stay warm (the parade seemed to happen on the coldest day).
When I first returned to the paper after university, the parade was in the morning and I can remember a frozen 35mm camera that stopped functioning before Santa arrived on Scott Street. My editor was disappointed that I missed the most important person in the parade.
Later, the Rotary club decided the magic of the evening was the best time to host a parade and the floats became lit with lights and music powered by generators. Santa had a new sleigh lit with lights and the magic grew.
When the Rotary Club in the Fort ceased to function, the local BIA took over operation of the parade. This year, Causeway Insurance is the co-ordinator and sponsor of the parade.
They must be commended for continuing the community tradition.
Most parades are held with snow on the ground and frost in the air. Parents shuffle from one foot to another to stay warm. Young people scurry about.
Other children sit atop shoulders, or are wrapped up in blankets and snowsuits while waiting for the parade to arrive.
Whether young or young at heart, everyone is keyed up in anticipation and can hardly wait for the star’s arrival down Scott Street. Screams and shouts of “Santa,” from the quietest squeak to loudest shrill, carry above the crowd.
Fingers and hands point to the man. Faces turn and children’s faces light up.
And in all too brief of a moment, Santa has passed and the mystery of the man continues for another generation.
The parade will be played out across the district, and in towns across the country, in the next few weeks. Everywhere the magic will happen.

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