Santa comes to town, via the London Airport
LONDON, ONT -- It’s not everyday Santa arrives for a parade in a helicopter, but today was not a normal Santa Claus Parade.
"The helicopter was great, but I’m sure not going to trade in the reindeer," says Santa. "Rudolph is a great navigator, plus the reindeer are a lot quicker than that little helicopter."
London’s annual Santa Claus Parade was forced in a different direction this year. Instead of congregating downtown, residents drove past 20 displays, floats, bands, and dance teams at the London airport. People were lined up as early as 9 a.m. this morning to first in line, when the gates opened at 1:30 p.m.
Shaun Merton is the parade organizer.
"There’s a lot of people that didn’t want to come because they were scared, and I get that. But, there’s still lots here. It’s not the 40 floats we’re used to, but we could accommodate that many here at the airport," says Merton.
In the end, thousands of cars rolled through the parade route, and everyone seemed to really appreciate the opportunity to still have a Santa Claus Parade, in some fashion.
"It was a lot faster. A lot warmer. It’s the same experience, but still nice," says Jim Gregson, and his family.
"It was amazing. We really loved it. I think it was better than the normal one," says Susan Smyth, and her kids.
"Definitely different. But, nice to be in your family care and hear and see still. Great to have some normalcy when everything else is so crazy," says John Watts, who brought his family through the parade.
The parade wasn’t without its hiccups. People could only drive through from 1:30 to 4:30, leaving some without an opportunity to see Santa. The long lines, both in and out, of the airport also backed up traffic along Huron, Oxford, and Veteran’s Memorial Highway. But, all in all, Merton says he’ll consider this drive-thru model for future parades.
"We had to think outside of the box. People needed some positivity. This is a different world we live in, and I don’t think it’s going to change for a little while," he says.
Of course, Santa gets the final word.
"Stay safe. Have a happy holiday, and Merry Christmas," he says, with a twinkle in his eye.