Sunday, November 23, 2014 – Pine Street is quiet. It’s a Sunday morning after all; the hallways are reserved exclusively for a handful of custodians. But today is different – slicing through the droning din of the ventilation system, there’s sounds of chairs dragging against the floor, an authoritative voice yelling over laughter, and above all the clamour, a startling blow of a trombone.
Every year, Weston CI’s touring jazz band commandeers a float in the annual Weston Santa Claus Parade. Coordinated by our well-loved music director, Mr. Nadalin, the band members and volunteers don WCI jerseys, Santa hats, and climb aboard their own flatbed truck to be driven down the parade. Their foot-tapping, lively tunes can be heard drifting down Weston Road alongside the other Christmas-themed floats.
At the morning of the parade, we gathered early to prepare. Through yawns, the students taped tinsel, streamers, and Christmas signs onto the truck’s hood. The chairs and music stands nestled in the corner of the music room were dragged out and lined in rows for the players. Equipped with saxophones, flutes, trombones, clarinets, a drum kit, and candy canes to give out, the band was ready. We climbed aboard and rolled along at a fast and furious 20km/h to Church and Weston to claim our spot in the parade.
Cop cruisers arrived at St. Phillips and stood by yellow metal gates to divert the oncoming traffic. The cars, vans, and trucks that were passed through poured out eccentrically costumed-participants. Officials in flashy fluorescent vests coasted along the line, making sure we knew our float numbers and kept curious community members on the sidewalks.
The Weston CI students blew at their chapped hands and hoped the wind wouldn’t blow over their pages. Evading their band director’s gaze, we smuggled along candy canes and sugared up for the parade. A few children from a Rugby float made repeated trips to our float for their own share too. Suddenly, a smiling lady in a black car drove up beside us and asked if we needed more Santa hats. We were fine but she popped open her trunk anyway and passed us a dozen from a massive mountain of red-and-white hats in her trunk. Everyone was in a good mood as the parade was to start.
The Weston Santa Claus Parade 2014 included more than just particular residents from the North Pole; floats came from Richmond and Vaughan to participate. Disney-Princess-esque models smiled down as they poised amidst a charming, artificial winter wonderland. From dancers in matching plaid jumpsuits to stilt-walkers and clowns, the parade had it all. Musical floats were methodically arranged so their songs never obtrusively overlapped each other. Novelty concession stands rolled about and soon there was a smell of popcorn in the air.
While the band played, volunteers danced alongside the float and waved to the community, eliciting a few, “Go Weston Collegiate!” from alumni. We spotted children swallowed in their winter coats and ran over to dump whatever candy canes we had left into their open mittens. Even when we ran out, enthusiastic high-fives were distributed. Apparently, there’s nothing that will make a kid more amped up than a high-five.
“Weston [Collegiate Institute] has been a part of the parade with me for the last fifteen years,” the band director, Mr. Nadalin says, “I look forward to it every year and I feel the kids do too. [My favourite part of the parade is] seeing the people along the route and the faces of the students performing. It’s a long day but worth it. I only wish the weather was better.”
Being part of the parade and contributing to the annual holiday festivity was a truly heart-warming experience, especially watching all those part of the parade come together to make it work smoothly.
Happy holidays, Weston.
This post was brought to you by the Weston Village BIA.