He’s back! Winnipeg’s Santa Claus Parade goes ahead with pandemic twist

The man in red is back! After a two-year hiatus, Santa Claus graced the streets of Winnipeg on Saturday at a different sort of Santa Claus Parade.

This time, kids and their families pre-registered to walk past Santa as he sat on his traditional float behind Shaw Park, rather than standing in the crowd waiting for him to parade by.

“I’m just glad to be back,” Santa told CBC News.

“The elves have been busy! We social distance up at the North Pole, and they’ve been making lots of toys for all the kids.”

This year’s parade required all eligible youth and adults to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and kids who can’t be had to be escorted by a parent who is immunized. Everyone had to be masked as well.

A child waves to Santa at Winnipeg’s Santa Claus Parade on Saturday. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Gil Cyr was able to bring his son to see Santa at the sold-out event.

The father normally comes to the parade every year, but wasn’t able to last year because of the pandemic. That parade was virtual as Santa told kids to stay ho-ho-home.

“It’s nice to be out with everybody and all the kids and seeing everybody all happy. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Laura Perry brought her daughters, Evelyn and Grace, out too.

“We wanted to see what it’s like to be like Christmas … and see friends and family,” Evelyn said.

Grace didn’t have the greatest time, though. Her candy cane fell on the ground.

A child says hi to Santa Claus at Winnipeg’s parade on Saturday. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Laura said she didn’t mind the public health restrictions at the parade.

“There’s not that many activities these days, so it’s kind of a nice way to get out, get some fresh air and see Santa.”

The last two years have been tough, but Santa has a message to all the kids in Manitoba.

“I want everyone to stay safe, and don’t forget to leave me some milk and cookies and some carrots for the reindeer,” he said.