Tips For Watching The Christmas Parade With Kids

by Mike Holman

Mr. Potato Head

Mr. Potato Head

I recently took my 3 year old son down to watch the annual Christmas parade for the first time.  I live in Toronto but I imagine that most large cities have their own equivalent.  I was a bit apprehensive since I had never taken him to a large event like that before.  We had a reasonably good time and the weather was fantastic.  I learned a lot from the experience so I figured a post was in order to share some thoughts I had about how to make next year’s parade better.

Bring Food

This is one of the few things I got right.  I brought some snack food along for the little one.  Nothing helps pass time better when there is nothing going on with the parade than some food.

Talk to someone who has gone before for tips

I have no idea why I didn’t do this but after seeing all the other parents there with blankets, coolers, chairs etc I realized that maybe asking around before the parade probably would have helped.

Bring chairs, blankets

If you have foldup chairs for both adults and kids then bring them.  We ended up sitting on the ground while waiting.

If your child is young then don’t stay for Santa

We tried to time it to get to the parade route and not have to wait long.  It didn’t work since the parade was delayed which meant we ended up leaving before the end of the parade.  My son doesn’t even know or care about Santa so no big deal.



Don’t arrive too early

Some parents and kids will try to arrive at the parade route well before the parade in order to secure a good spot.  If you and your kids can handle waiting 1 hour or more then more power to you.  My son is not capable of waiting around that long.  We went later on and still had to wait too long.  If I could do it again I would have gone much later, stayed for a reasonable amount of time (1 hour max) and then went home.

Don’t drive

In Toronto, the parade is held downtown so driving is not a good idea.  If you do drive then I would follow the following suggestions:

  • Don’t try to cross the parade route.
  • Consider parking a distance from the route and take public transit the rest of the way.  This might be a good approach if you are coming from far away.
  • Ride a bike.  I only mention this one because that’s how we got down there.  20 minutes there, 20 minutes to get home – it was awesome.

Dress appropriately

This rule didn’t matter this year since it was so warm.  However some years it can be cold and wet.  Bring lots of clothes and rainwear!

For you Santa Claus parade vets – can you provide any more tips or experiences you’ve had with the Santa Claus parade?

Most of the floats were more modern than I remember.  I have no idea what this float was supposed to be.

Most of the floats were more modern than I remember. I have no idea what this float was supposed to be.

As always – pictures were taken with my Canon 200sx digital camera.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathryn

Fun post! I would also add:

1) Try to bring a new Canadian. Parades are a fascinating cultural observation. Taking someone with you who has never seen a parade before and seeing it through their eyes is an experience not to be missed. We went last week too and one thing I noticed is how few ethnic minorities were present, in the parade but also in the crowds.

2) Bring your own coffee. The lineups at Starbucks was so long our spouses missed the first part of the parade.

2 Mike

Bringing a new Canadian is a good idea (Guinness416?) 🙂

Actually it was my first time attending the parade even though I’ve lived in Toronto for 16 years.

3 guinness416

This new canadian actually saw the montreal one on sunday Mike, which was far superior to the TO parade due to the cute stripy sweaters that the 25 year old quebec firemen were wearing. Zut alors!

4 Four Pillars

Guinness – Haha – are you sure that wasn’t the Pride parade? 😉

5 Kris

I would say go to a smaller parade (at least with the smaller kids). We’ll be heading to the Aurora “Santa Under the Stars” this weekend, and we can get there just as it starts. The floats aren’t as amazing as the Toronto parade, but the kids love being front row.

6 Four Pillars

Thanks for the great tip Kris – I’ve never heard of the Aurora event so maybe I’ll check it out.

7 Kevin Press

My wife and I have mastered this. If you’ve got young kids (ours are 4 and 2), take them by subway to the Christie station. That’s where the parade officially begins, and it’s where the float line joins up with the marching band line. As you come out of the subway station, head for Bloor Street; that’s where the floats are. Walk west, leisurely along Bloor. Your kids will see all the floats, which is what matters most to them. The crowds get progressively thinner as you head west, which makes the parade that much more enjoyable. And you’ll be next to Santa in less than half an hour. Hop into the next subway station, and head home for hot chocolate.

8 Smac20

I think I’ll be watching the parade this year from home. I know it’s fun to be there, but I’m going to be a party pooper this year. Have fun.

9 Mike

Kevin, that is absolutely brilliant. No waiting around and the kids see what they want to see.

I’ll see you there next year! 🙂

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