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The best parade in the Eastern Townships, the much-loved annual Santa Claus Parade, was held on Saturday and the recent warm weather which had many of us in short-sleeved shirts finally gave way to normal December temperatures and the snow began swirling just in time to welcome good ole Saint Nick through the streets of Knowlton!
Perhaps Santa had something to do with the weather, he must have the right connections to guarantee that the parade must have snow and a nip in the air. It was definitely nippy and almost everyone had red little noses as the wind chill reached -8.
Unusually warm temperatures in November made many residents feel that winter was never going to allow us to build snowmen in the front yard but then with the start of December it suddenly turned cold and snow began to fall instead of freezing rain.
The first weekend of December saw a sudden drop in temperatures which some attributed to the gathering of Liberals in Montreal for the leadership convention but the thoughts of political maneuvers were far from the thoughts of people in Knowlton who were more concerned with Christmas decorations and float preparations and would leave the business of Quebec politics to those who were so inclined.
In Knowlton we have a tradition of gathering together no matter what the weather and this year was no different! The windchill was gripping and everyone was a wee bit shocked to have to deal with the freezing temperatures as we gathered at the Depanneur Rouge and along Knowlton Road and in front of the Knowlton Village to wait for the parade to pass.
The parade was lead by some young fuzzy Lions who guided the fire trucks and the floats down Knowlton Road. The flashing lights and candies being tossed by firefighters made quite an impression and children had obviously come prepared as many of them clutched bags to store their sweet Christmas bounty. The brass band played our favorite Christmas carols and did a fine job considering the difficulty it must be maintaining precision with a cold trumpet or tuba and freezing fingers and cheeks!
The floats were quite impressive this year and the groups who spent their spare time to build the colorful scenes did a great job. There was nativity scenes, and snowmen and all sorts of gingerbread cookies and some very theatrical rolling "Christmas postcards" with music and always waving and candy and toys being tossed to the kids who scurried at the curbs like tiny mice looking for the crumbs that fall off of Santas cookies!
Of course, sometimes all it took to make everyone smile was the sight of a big fluffy white dog with a red ribbon riding in the back of a pick-up truck to make everyone happy!
Luckily for us the merchants of Knowlton provide free hot chocolate and spiced apple cider to keep the blood adequately thinned to allow for a continuous enjoyment of the parade floats. Le Relais had a crowd gathering an hour before the parade to enjoy good conversation and warm hot chocolate. The main parade route from Victoria through to Lakeside was packed with families who watched the parade.
The kids loved the music and clowns and floats and there was a synchronized waving of mittens at the floats as candies and Christmas treats were tossed to the wee ones on the curb. It almost felt like Halloween as many kids brought bags and containers to hold all the chocolates and suckers and goodies that were tossed from the floats.
The Santa Claus Parade happens because of the hard work of many of the Lac Brome residents who volunteer their time and energy to gather during the cold weekend of December to build and create the floats and magical displays that turn our children's Christmas into a magical event! The faces of the many youngsters who waited in thick winter clothing along the parade route were filled with an innocent anticipation that was truly heartwarming!
Parents clutched their cups of hot chocolate and tea while the children cheered and screamed in excitement at seeing the decorations and hearing the hymns of the season...As the wonderfully decorated Christmas floats passed and horses trotted by the crowds and the brass bands played traditional Christmas music the happy children clutched their candy bags and waved at the elves, princesses and their grown-up Christmas heroes!
The horses drawing their shiny buggies were an impressive sight and were greatly appreciated by the youngsters who look up in awe at the power and magnificence of the gentle beasts. There were also some of the cutest little mini-horses too! They had colorful sparkling ribbons on their little ears and pulled miniature wagons and were a big favorite as many of these dwarf horses actually look at a child from their own eye level! The little fuzzy horses worked quite hard pulling their loads up the hill on Lakeside!
That's what the Knowlton Santa Clause Parade parade is all about...even the tiniest of God's creatures get involved and make it something special for the rest of us!
As is always the case the parade seemed to be over too soon. While we were all hopping from side to side to keep the blood flowing it was obvious from the faces in the crowd that after Santa had made his departure that it was going to be time to try and find something else to do for the rest of the cold, windy day. At least for the afternoon we were all treated to a momentary reprieve from the troubles of our day-to-day lives and were transported into the dreamy place where anything is possible and where Santa Claus really exists!
A royal salute goes to everyone who got involved in the organization and presentation of the parade. To the Lions Club, the First Respondents, the Town of Lac Brome and her elected officials, to the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides of Brome, to the Brome County Fair and all the private companies and local businesses who got involved to make this years parade the best ever! It's the dedication and hard work of all of you that underline the true meaning of Christmas!