Because of the pandemic and crowd restrictions, this year’s Santa Claus Parade is going to be different.
But the Toronto Police Service played an integral part in the staging of this event and on November 17, Traffic Services escorted the floats from Santa’s workshop to a secret location for filming.
There were 22 floats towed by 22 vehicles plus 6 support vehicles.
“It takes highly trained and dedicated officers to help Santa in a mission like this,” said Sgt. Jason Kraft, of Traffic Services.
To celebrate the parade, Traffic Services asked TPS members about their memories from previous parades through the streets of Toronto that draw thousands of spectators each year.
“I have worked at many of those parades,” said Const Jenelle Higo of Traffic Services. “I was always riding a motorcycle and I was always freezing, but we would do anything to make sure Santa Claus comes to town. My favourite part was Santa Claus and the hot chocolate with the little marshmallows inside.”
The majority of Toronto Police personnel that work on the parade day are Auxiliary members.
“These are volunteers who go out and have a great time,” said Const. Sean Shapiro, who was an Auxiliary member for 12 years before becoming a uniformed officer. “I looked forward to that event and I knew where I was going to be every year.”
Parking Enforcement Officer (PEO) Erin Urquhart has great memories of the parade as a child and PEO.
“Working Santa Claus parades is very different from when I was a kid attending them,” she said. “Seeing the kids super excited is really magical and a joyous moment.”
Acting Auxiliary S/Sgt. Mike Liebmann, of 32 Division, has missed just two parades in his 20-year career with the Service.
“It is one of the most uplifting events with families representing every culture enjoying that special occasion,” he added. “The positive energy that goes on at this event is something that carries some people through the entire year. It’s also a nice opportunity to reconnect with Service members you don’t otherwise see regularly during the year.”
Bryce Levert, of Traffic Services Motor Squad, said his favourite Santa Claus memory was three years ago.
“My daughter was nine years old and I told her I was going to surprise her,” he recalled. “She was all excited and wanted to know what the surprise was. While on Bloor St. trying to get pictures of the floats, Santa Claus appeared. Before he left, I asked him for a favour and he said he would do anything for a Toronto Police officer. I told him my daughter was just expecting a photo of him on the sleigh, but I asked him if he could send her a message which he did after I gave my camera to a colleague.”
The parade will air on Saturday, December 5 at 7 pm. on CTV and CTV2.