Toronto Santa Claus Parade

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Toronto Santa Claus Parade
Santa Claus Parade Toronto 2009 (1).jpg
A float in the 2009 Parade
Created by Eaton's
Starring Ken Shaw and Melissa Grelo 2010-present - CFTO-DT/CP24
Rosey Edeh (2009) and Leslie Roberts 2005-2009 - Global Toronto
Faye Dance, Sandy Hoyt (1985-1997) and Susan Hay (1990s until 2008) - Global Toronto - Jim Perry
Country of origin Canada
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 112 (as of November 20th, 2016)
Production location(s) Downtown Toronto from Christie Pits along Bloor Street West, south on Avenue Road/Queen's Park Crescent/University Avenue to Front Street West, east along Front to St. Lawrence Market
Running time 3 Hours
(with commercials)
Production company(s) Eaton's 1905-1977
various corporate sponsors 1982-present
CTV (media since 2010)
Original network Television: CTV 2010-present
Global 1982-2009
CBC 1952-1981
(rebroadcast on CBS)
Radio: CFRB 1930s to 1950s
CBC Radio 1950s to 1980s
CHFI-FM 1980s-present
Original release 1952 – present
External links
Eaton's Santa Claus Parade, 1918, Toronto, Ontario. Having arrived at the Eaton's store, Santa is readying his ladder to climb up onto the building.

The Toronto Santa Claus Parade is a Santa Claus parade held annually on the third Sunday of November in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The latest parade was held on Sunday, November 19, 2017. More than a half million people attend the parade every year.[1] The televised parade, broadcast nationwide on the CTV Television Network, starts at around 4pm and runs about an hour and a half. It now has over 25 floats, 20-25 bands[2] and 1,700 participants. The parade route is almost 5.6 kilometres (3.5 mi) long. It is one of the biggest parade productions in North America.



The Toronto Santa Claus Parade was first held on December 2, 1905 with just a single float. Sponsored by the Eaton's chain of department stores, Santa was collected at Union Station,[3] and delivered to the downtown Toronto Eaton's store.

The parade grew in size each year and attracted large crowds. For the 1913 parade, Eaton's brought in reindeer from Labrador to pull Santa's sleigh.[4]

Beginning in 1947, a recurring character, Punkinhead, was seen each year in the parade.[5] Punkinhead was a character in a series of storybooks sold by Eaton's.

By the 1950s the Toronto parade was the largest Santa Claus parade in North America, and it is now one of the oldest annual parades in the world.[6] Eaton's continued to pay for the paraded, which was used to promote its retail business.[7] The company's Merchandise Display Department worked year-round at Eaton's Sheppard and Highway 400 service building to make costumes and build floats and mechanized window tableaux.

From 1925 until the late 1960s the floats from the parade were reused in Montreal where Eaton's had been holding Santa Claus Parades since 1909. This arrangement was cancelled due in 1969 due to bombing threats by the Front de libération du Québec and did not resume until it was revived in the 1990s by Défilé du Père Noël, the downtown Montreal business association and is known in French as Défilé du Père Noël. Eaton's also launched a Santa Claus Parade in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1909. Eaton's sold the Winnipeg parade to the Winnipeg Firefighters Club in 1965 and it has continued as a community parade to this day, but is now operated by the Winnipeg Jaycees.[7]

Near demise and revival[edit]

Eaton's association with the parade ended in 1982 and almost led to the parade's demise.[8] Metro Chairman Paul Godfrey spearheaded a "Save Our Parade" campaign, and soon after a group of businessmen led by Ron Barbaro and George Cohon, with the help of 20 corporate sponsors, stepped in to save the parade.[9][3] Cohon retired from the parade organization in 2014. Today the parade is funded by various corporate sponsors (including McDonald's, Canadian Tire, Lowe's, The Walt Disney Company, Toys R Us, Mattel, Sears Canada, and Tim Horton's) which are featured in floats.


In 1983, the Celebrity Clowns began and remains a tradition of the parade today.

In 2011, the parade route moved its southbound leg from Yonge Street, via Dundas Street West, to Avenue Road, Queen's Park Crescent and University Avenue. Thus ending the tradition of passing the Toronto Eaton Centre, once home to the parade's former sponsor. Eaton Centre, one of many parade sponsors, continues to host the pancake breakfast.

Toronto Christmas Parade Celebrity Clowns.JPG


From 1952 to 1981, CBC Television broadcast the parade.[3] The parade aired on CFRB radio from the 1930s through the 1950s and then on CBC Radio. CHFI-FM is the current radio broadcaster having taken over from CBC Radio in the 1980s.

In 1973, the parade received its first French-language television broadcast on Télé-Métropole.[10] The broadcast was hosted by the puppets from the francophone children's series Nic et Pic.[10]

Global carried the parade in Canada and made its feed available in several other countries, including New Zealand, Ireland and Norway, primarily by broadcasters owned by or affiliated with Global's parent company CanWest between 1984 and 2009.[11] The United States network CBS has broadcast the parade since the 1950s as part of its All American Thanksgiving Day Parade coverage during American Thanksgiving, rotating its coverage between the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Hudson's Thanksgiving Parade, Gimbel's Thanksgiving Parade and later the Disneyland Stars Parade.

On April 6, 2010, CTV and parade organizers announced an agreement under which CTV stations nationwide, along with CTV-owned Toronto-based 24-hour news channel CP24, would air live coverage of the parade through 2012.[12][13][14] In consequence, the 2010 parade also aired on CTV-owned CHUM-AM 1050, which at the time operated a TV simulcast with CP24.

Closure and access[edit]

Streets around the downtown core are closed from approximately 8:00 a.m. through afternoon of parade day. While some parking is available, organizers encourage viewers to take public transit. GO Transit (via Union Station) and Toronto Transit Commission's subway stations provide access to the parade route.[15]


  1. ^ Rehel, Jason (17 November 2012). "Five Things You Need To Know Before Heading To The Santa Claus Parade On Sunday". National Post. Retrieved 2014-05-13. 
  2. ^ "A 'Kickoff' to the holidays for families". Toronto Star, November 19, 2016, page R1
  3. ^ a b c "7 things to know about the Santa Claus Parade". CBC News, Nov 13, 2015.
  4. ^ "One-Tank Trips: Parade, festival kick off holiday season". London Free Press, Jim Fox. November 11, 2016
  5. ^ Doug Taylor (November 2010). Arse Over Teakettle: An Irreverent Story of Coming of Age During the 1940s in Toronto. iUniverse. pp. 330–. ISBN 978-1-4502-0531-3. 
  6. ^ "Unrivaled memories of the Santa Claus Parade in Montreal 1925 to 2012". Destination Centre-ville. October 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-11-22. Retrieved 2013-01-17. 
  7. ^ a b "Eaton's Parade". National Archives of Canada website.
  8. ^ "Saving the Santa Claus Parade". Torontoist. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  9. ^ Mike Filey (1992). Toronto Sketches: The Way We Were. Dundurn. pp. 113–. ISBN 978-1-55002-176-9. 
  10. ^ a b Steve Penfold, A Mile of Make-Believe: A History of the Eaton's Santa Claus Parade. University of Toronto Press, 2016. ISBN 9781442630987.
  11. ^ "Global Television Ushers In The Festive Season With The 105th Annual Santa Claus Parade" (Press release). GlobalTV. 23 October 2009. Retrieved 2014-05-13. 
  12. ^ "Santa Claus Parade comes to CTV". CTV News. 6 April 2010. Retrieved 2014-05-13. 
  13. ^ "CP24 to broadcast Santa Claus Parade live" (Press release). CP24. 6 April 2010. Retrieved 2014-05-13. 
  14. ^ "Only Five More Sleeps Until THE SANTA CLAUS PARADE on CTV and CP24, Nov. 21" (Press release). CTV. 16 November 2010. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 2014-05-13. 
  15. ^ Freeman, Joshua (17 November 2013). "Road closures in effect for the 109th Santa Claus Parade". CTV News. Retrieved 2014-05-13. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Toronto Santa Claus Parade at Wikimedia Commons