Everybody loves a parade
Santa Claus is all set to roll into Uxbridge for the 57th time this Saturday. We were rather surprised to learn that it was only the 57th – we figured that a Christmastime parade would have been an annual tradition long before 1960 here in Uxbridge. But 57 years is still a pretty good run!
The traditional pastime of parades fills a lot of us with excitement and a sense of nostalgia. People stand curbside and cheer as the procession of local politicians, bands, and floats often filled with friends and neighbours passes by. For just that hour or so, everyone is a kid.
The Toronto parade is on Sunday, and, like the Uxbridge parade, we love that, while it is sponsored by businesses, it isn’t a giant advertising fest. The Macy’s Day Parade, which began in 1924, started the tradition of using a parade for advertising. Their first parade featured animals from the Central Park Zoo, and was considered a huge success by its organizers, becoming a yearly tradition. Now, companies pay thousands of dollars to display their brand on floats and cartoon character balloons in the Macy’s Day Parade. And although Tim Hortons and Mattel, etc., may have the bucks to kit out a really fabulous float for the Toronto parade, they are generally pretty subdued about overtly displaying their wares. Same goes for the Uxbridge parade – one of the parade rules, as indicated on the website, is: “The Parade is for the benefit of the community and should not be viewed as primarily a marketing opportunity.” We’re bombarded by enough advertising from other places, it’s good to keep the parade clean and fun.
Some may be interested to know that parades weren’t originally marketing ploys dreamed up by big department stores. Parades have their roots in the military and in politics. Generations of rulers have projected their power through displays of strength, going back to humanity’s first civilizations. Religious authorities and organizations used parades in much the same way – the parade offered a large platform for them to connect with the community and foster power. The public enjoyed the parades because they got a chance to be close to the powerful members of society who passed by.
According to one website, historyofthings.com, parades eventually came to be associated with fairs and festivals. People came together to socialize and learn about recent news. Citizens could look forward to having some fun times in the middle of the misery that surely pervaded in medieval times as the circus parades and brightly painted carreros (carts) brightened people’s lives. The public anticipated such events, and the parades developed a flashy and exotic mood. The fleeting moments likely provided great pleasure and an escape from everyday life.
Here’s hoping that the weather cooperates and we can look forward to a little escape this Saturday morning (starting at 11 at the Uxbridge Arena). The theme for the 2018 Uxbridge Santa Claus parade is “150 years of Christmas in Canada,” which should provide more than a few fun glances at Christmas through the decades. Silver trees are all the thing again, so we’ll likely see a few flashbacks to the 60s… The Cosmos has decided it won’t put a float in this year – we want to take the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the show for a change. After all, everybody loves a parade.