A parade of disappointments
Crushed. Bummed. Ticked. Dis-ap-POIN-ted. Not words one normally uses to describe how one feels after watching a parade. A Santa Claus parade, no less. But that was exactly how I felt after watching the “original Santa Claus parade” from Toronto on TV on Sunday afternoon. What a joke it was. What a let-down.
I don’t remember a time I haven’t watched the Toronto Santa Claus parade. I know that, when I was very young, my mom, dad, brother and I used to go to watch the parade in person. We then started watching it on TV, and the change didn’t matter to my brother and I – it was a heck of a lot warmer, and we saw the same show! My mom absolutely loved the Toronto parade, and watching it together on Sunday afternoon became the firm start to the holidays, a tradition that could not be missed. When I went off to school in Ottawa, we’d sit on the phone together (those were the days of long distance calls, and long distance charges!) and watch it, giving thumbs up or thumbs down to whatever was crossing the screen at the time. When I lived overseas for a time, it was a bit trickier – YouTube didn’t exist yet, and there were a few years in there that I missed the parade. But for the most part, I’ve kept up the tradition, and now my kids look forward to the Toronto Santa Claus parade and the appies-and-snacks dinner that we have while we watch it.
This year, however, sucked. No other way to put it. Ever since CTV took over the broadcasting of the parade, it has become nothing but a string of commercials that loosely tie a few floats, a couple of marching bands and a few bad street interviews together. The announcers were as fake as Cool Whip, their scripted patter painful to listen to. They kept ignoring the parade and cutting to “musical performances” of nice Christmas songs being sung badly. If I wanted to hear the Three Tenors sing “Silent Night” with a beat I’d get a cd, or tune in to CHFI 98.1. Actually, I lie. It was bad, so I wouldn’t want to hear it. Ever. I didn’t want to hear a 12-year old Justin Bieber wannabe sing, I wanted to watch the parade! Where was the parade!? I think I counted maybe nine floats in the hour and a half that the “parade” was being broadcast. Maybe four bands marched across my screen. They gave no time whatsoever to the costumes and characters that fill the spaces between the floats and the bands. Where were the penguins and polar bears? Where were the walking princesses? You know the ones I mean! The ones where their skirts are actually on wheels and they have ribbons flowing off them in all directions, being carried aloft by colourful ladies-in-waiting! I LOVE the walking princesses! Even more, perhaps most of all, I love the upside down clowns. It is actually on my bucket list to be an upside clown in the Toronto Santa Claus parade. I want to walk that 5.7 km route with my feet in my “hands” and my “feet” in the air. I did see one pretty good shot of some purple and red-robed upside down monkeys, and they were pretty cool, so I was slightly mollified, but the overall suckiness of the rest of the parade brought me too far down to feel much better.
They didn’t even broadcast the live Twitter feed that Santa has put out in recent years (I’m not so set on the old ways that I can’t deal with a Santa Tweet), and there were no cheesy Christmas jokes marching across the bottom of the screen. It was, overall, a catastrophe.
The most entertaining part of the evening was trying to get the channel to come in clearly. We have a modern antennae in one of our front windows, but of all the channels we can receive, CTV is the worst. So my poor husband had to stand just so by the piano and lean in just a little to the left to make the signal just perfect. And there he stood, with his beer, for most of the parade. He did such a wonderful job that we’re hiring him out, now, as the Human Antennae.
Honestly, though – the parade was a travesty. It truly encapsulated all the horrible things that Christmas time has become – phony, commercial, unfocussed, not at all true to its roots, and sorely lacking in true fun or personality. Only the people who were street-side got to witness what the parade was really like, and those crowds looked a little thin in spots. No one really seemed to be loving it, and it showed. I could feel it right through the screen. And it made me sad, because I wanted to feel it. A tradition is special because it’s integral to your life and it makes you feel a certain, special (and hopefully pleasant) way. But if Santa keeps bringing this crud to town, many many people will choose to ditch this tradition, and that will, of course, lead to the demise of the parade.
Everyone needs to pay the bills, and a spectacle like a parade can be certainly isn’t cheap. But it doesn’t have to be expensive, and it shouldn’t be a money grab. It should be a gift from Toronto to all who watch it, not one big commercial. Meh.
Where were the clowns? There ought to be clowns. Well, maybe next year.