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Celebrating 150 years of Christmas in Canada

By Celina Ip


'Pembroke celebrates 150 Years of Christmas' was the theme of this year’s Santa Claus Parade of Lights which turned Main Street into a magical yuletide affair on Saturday night.


Thousands of smiling children and excited spectators lined Pembroke Street to watch the spectacle of floats, vehicles and walkers clad in hundreds of electric lights, a procession which started at the Moncion Metro grocery store, and made its way through the city's core before heading down Christie Street to wrap up.

With the '150 years of Christmas' theme in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, the floats highlighted how Christmas was and is celebrated throughout Canada.

This year’s parade welcomed nearly 50 entries who followed suite with the '150 Years of Christmas' to beautifully transform the streets of Downtown Pembroke and allow everyone to travel back in time and experience Christmas from 1867 to 2017.

“What I really like is that this kicks off the season. It officially kicks off this holiday season and there's nothing better than being surrounded by smiling children and excited parents,” said Pat Lafreniere, Santa Claus Parade commentator. “The night time parade was the best thing that ever happened t Pembroke because we used to hold it during the day but in the nighttime you can add lights and the floats look even more amazing.”

The Canadian Cancer Society's float displayed a 1950’s scene of a mother reading stories to children by the Christmas tree; Pembroke MDF’s float featured 19th century lumberjacks celebrating Christmas; Family and Children’s Services of Renfrew County similarly showcased lumberjacks of the 1800s, St. John’s Lutheran Church displayed 150 years of Canadians being given the real meaning of Christmas; 638 Algonquin Royal Canadian Air Cadets displayed a beautiful homecoming scene of military parents coming home to a Christmas celebration; Tim Hortons’ float had a makeshift hockey rink with Timbits players serving coffee to guests in old uniforms; and the Antique Car Club showcased a 1960 British Ford van decked up with Christmas lights and decorations.

As the floats paraded on by, longtime commentators Lafreniere and Eli Boucher kept the spectators entertained as they commented on the various floats and offered their own unique Christmas tidbits and tales.

“The best part is that it's not just about the kids watching but you’re also going to see a ton of kids in the parade itself with the dancing troops and that's their moment in the sun. Once they reach this area where they judges are, their energy levels hit the top level and they put on quite a show.” said Boucher.

By the end of the night, spectators enjoyed close to one hour’s worth of decorated floats, marching bands, horses and riders, fire trucks and of course jolly St. Nicholas and his team of reindeer. 

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