The Christmas season, for me, officially begins with the Santa Claus parade. But you have to start feeling festive a bit earlier if you’re going to be in the parade. The St. Thomas Dog Owners Association decided to enter a “float” of dogs in the 2010 St. Thomas Santa Claus Parade. Leo and Charlie were ready with bells on.
We had a member’s van for carrying dogs and people and borrowed a beautiful brand new 2011 Ram truck from Elgin Chrysler. We decorated both with lights and tinsel. My contribution to the decorating was figuring out how to tie a lighted reindeer to the rear view mirror of the Ram so he shone out from the windshield.
So, off to the parade mustering ground at the Timken’s parking lot. A horse trailer and tiny ponies standing beside it getting tacked up by small girls. Two larger ponies were waiting to be harnessed to a beautiful white open carriage. Nearby a pipe band warmed up. Leo leaped from the car. Party time!
After two years with Leo, it still amazes me how fully he has embraced human activities. He didn’t grow up from puppyhood around parades and sidewalks. A puppy mill ‘production’ dog, he knew nothing about interacting in human society. But he’s a fast learner, and he knows that noise, music and big concentrations of people means there’s likely to be dropped food on the ground!
Floats were massed four wide on First Ave. I had no idea where STDOA might be. So we walked up to Talbot, looking for dogs. The parade marshals, Steve Peters, Joe Preston and Heather Jackson-Chapman, told me where exactly STDOA was. How they knew in that sea of floats and bands is beyond me!
Music blaring, technical difficulties getting sorted out, elves putting on their outfits. It was glorious – like being in the back lot at the circus. STDOA people and dogs were just where the marshals had told me. The dogs were checking each other out – their antlers, Santa coats, elf hats, bells and lighted collars.
Then the floats started moving. As we rounded the corner at First and Talbot, kids were lined 6 or 8 rows deep. A big roar came from them, “dogs, dogs” as we came into sight. All the way along Talbot Street, it was the same. “Look at the dogs. Dogs, dogs!” We weren’t doing anything other than walking along the street.
I had a pocketful of smelly treats. I knew Leo would be vacuuming the street for candy and dropped food, so wanted to have something to keep his attention. It worked – he pranced around me trying to get his nose in my pocket and hands. He looked like he was dancing. He’d sit, give a paw, do all the tricks he could think of to make me give him a treat. So I made the most of it, and he looked like a performing poodle. He was performing all right, begging for food. He’d visit people along the parade route, in reality checking to see if they had any food he could scarf, but he’d waggle his tail and let them pet him.
Santa Claus and Santa Dogs
He and Charlie pranced and danced all the way to Elgin Street. They watched the people and listened to the oohs and aahs. I’m sure they thought all those people had come out just to see them. And, in a way, they had. They’d come to see dogs, people, ponies and vehicles in a magical situation. Everybody dressed up, everybody smiling. Everybody waiting to see Santa, of course. He’s the main event. But in a parade, every ‘act’ is a main event. This year, my first of ever being in a parade, I found out that’s true for participants as well as spectators.
Originally posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Dec. 1, 2010. The 2015 St. Thomas parade was on Nov. 21st. If you’re near Sussex or Hampton NB, both towns’ parades are this Saturday, Dec. 5th.