March 27, 2023

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The cheerful, orderly procession of a parade can sometimes belie the panic and chaos that immediately precedes it. That’s what Spoke discovered this year, as it had a look behind the scenes at the preparations early Saturday for the 46th annual Kitchener-Waterloo Santa Claus Parade.

The morning began in tense fashion, as volunteers discovered that someone had broken into their cube van sometime overnight and stolen all four of the generators used to inflate the balloon displays. The van had been backed up against a wall at a nearby school, but thieves managed to squeeze in behind it and cut the padlock securing the back door. Police say the theft happened sometime between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

A member of the Lions Club told CTV Kitchener the generators were worth around $1,600 apiece and made a plea for their return, so that the parade donations could be used for the charity, rather than replacing generators.

It wasn’t the first time that the organization had had its generators stolen at a parade; in fact, it was the third time in just a few years. Despite the setback, the team managed to get new generators and fill up the balloons in time for the parade to begin.

Meanwhile, less than an hour before the parade was to begin, volunteer marshal Courtney Wielomski frantically scrambled to locate 15 missing parade entries that still hadn’t appeared.

“I’ve done one other parade, but I feel like this one is a bit less structured. It doesn’t get as many sponsorships as, say, the Oktoberfest parade,” she said. “I do love doing it, though — and would love it even more if the rest of the floats turned up. Good thing we still have 45 minutes or I might be panicking.”

All along the marshalling area, ribbons and bows were frantically being attached to vehicles and elf costumes were donned to the sounds of bands such as that of the Waterloo Regional Police Service. Random notes from instruments being warmed up filled the air.

This year’s parade consisted of more than 100 floats and entries, including Conestoga’s own student association and mascot, Cliff the Condor.

As the sidewalks along the parade route begin to fill, the call of the parade marshal was heard and the parade was on its way. Travelling from downtown Kitchener and up Weber Street to Erb Street in Waterloo, Frosty, Cliffy and all the other friendly faces marched cheerfully through town to welcome jolly old St. Nick to K-W.

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