Flamborough Santa Claus Parade just around the bend

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Everybody loves a parade. For some, the spell is cast with the first notes from the marching band. For others, magic strikes as the clop-clop of hooves on pavement echoes down streets more familiar with the squealing of tires and honking horns. Still others are spellbound by the costumes and floats.

But for Mary Lamb, one of the small group of sorcerers who bring the Flamborough Santa Claus Parade to life each year, the moment it all comes together happens before the first drumbeat is played or baton is thrown.

"The night of the parade, I usually get in a golf cart and do the parade route backwards," she explained. "When you see the kids - and even the adults, and they can hardly wait...that's why I do this."

The parade, which this year falls on November 26, is the culmination of nearly a full year of work by a determined and organized core volunteer committee of 10 people. The group may be small, says Lamb, but they are mighty.

"People can't believe that there are only 10 of us!" she laughed. "Everybody has a specific job that they're in charge of, and each person looks after all those things that nobody knows anything about."

Those behind-the-scenes details include PR, arranging a 2-way radio system for the committee to use on the big day and tracking down everything from golf carts to port-a-potties and dumpsters. And everyone on the committee brings their own set of talents to the table, whether it's a connection to local businesses that can donate equipment or co-ordinating fundraising.

"The committee starts meeting in January, but the night of the parade, we're already booking floats for the next one," said Lamb. "At the start, we practically had to beg for people to come in, now people are calling us, this parade has gotten so popular."

Now in its eleventh year, the Flamborough Santa Claus Parade has had its share of growing pains, such as the delay caused when a police car was in a fender-bender with an anxious motorist trying to outmanoeuver the procession at Hamilton Street, or last year, when Lamb herself had a run-in with a truck at the take-off point in Joe Sams Park. But each year, the committee adds to its wealth of experience, and builds on it so that now, the whole event runs pretty much like clockwork.

"It's all 'old-hat' now, but something always comes up," muses Lamb. "It always comes down to the last week."

The action kicks off when, a week before parade day, a trailer is delivered to Waterdown District High School, so students can get to work on the float that will carry the big man himself, said Lamb. And Gary Banting and his woodworking class always deliver the ride for Santa.

On parade day itself, Lamb leaves her house at 7 a.m. and heads to Joe Sams Park to meet the trailers arriving to be decorated. After breaking for a hearty meal - Breakfast with the Men at Knox Church in Waterdown - Lamb then heads back to the park to make sure everything's running smoothly.

"I tell them, 'You are leaving at 5:30,'" she notes. "They can take all day to decorate, but they leave Joe Sams at 5:30." Thanks to the incident last year that left her with a broken arm, the committee has altered procedure this year: after 3:30 p.m., no vehicles will be allowed entry into Joe Sams. "No exceptions; it's not open for discussion."

At 4:30 p.m., "the girls" - Lamb's daughter, Shannon Newell, her daughter-in-law, Rebecca Lamb and Amy Gatscher head for Memorial Park, where they co-ordinate the performers - everything on wheels comes out of Joe Sams, and the horses get ready at the gas station just north of Parkside Drive on Hamilton Street, but the bands, dancers and other walkers gear up right here in town. Grindstone Valley Bible Church sets up a concession stand, so food is available for volunteers and police officers.

"We've developed a relationship with the police over the years," said Lamb.

At 6 p.m. sharp, groups at the various venues start queueing up - the countdown is on and like a choreographed sequence, some 80 entries are on the move towards downtown Waterdown.

Then the magic begins. The floats, which have been lined up on Centre Road are led by the EMS and fire truck; as they move by, Lamb integrates the horses into the lineup - all the while in constant communication with the women at charge at Memorial Park, who integrate the bands, dancers and walkers into the parade which will once again travel south on Hamilton Street to Dundas Street, east to Main Street then north to Parkside Drive.

"It's organized chaos," laughed Lamb.

After the parade, the committee removes the "Loonie Bins," - traditionally the funds raised during the night amount to about $5,000, which will start the ball rolling for the $30,000 cost of the following year's parade.

But the work's not quite done: the committee follows the parade route once again, to decide on the best decorated house and commercial building along the way. Then they retire to the Royal Coachman to rehash the night, collect the float judges' ballots and decide which four entries earn top honours for the year.

"We know those by the end of the evening," said Lamb. "Its always a late, late night!"

Sunday morning, the group is at it again, literally erasing all evidence of Flamborough's biggest night of the year.

"The city will charge us if they have to come and clean up," explained Lamb.

Lamb is quick to credit local sponsors and businesses who support the parade each year. Sponsorships are offered at $200 each; this year the committee tallied $11,000 in corporate donations. The community also comes on board in a big way, attending Breakfast with Santa at East Side Marios (this year November 19) and filling the Loonie Bins along the parade route. Entry fees also help cover costs: businesses pay $150 each. (The $25 fee for non-profit groups all goes back to charity.)

Several non-profit groups will also be at this year's parade. The Helping Hands Street Mission will once again be collecting socks to be distributed to those in need, and the Rotary Club will be out in force with Sana's Bells. Operation Christmas Child will be decking out a float for the night, and will be accepting filled shoeboxes to be sent to children in developing countries.

Lamb, who was considering retiring from the parade committee before her accident last year, decided she couldn't go out on such a low note. So she's sticking with it for a while longer - to see that the magic continues.

"I'm not out to change the world," she insists. "But I would like to make a little bit of a difference.

"I just wish there were two or three of me," she laughed.

Flamborough Santa Claus Parade just around the bend

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Everybody loves a parade. For some, the spell is cast with the first notes from the marching band. For others, magic strikes as the clop-clop of hooves on pavement echoes down streets more familiar with the squealing of tires and honking horns. Still others are spellbound by the costumes and floats.

But for Mary Lamb, one of the small group of sorcerers who bring the Flamborough Santa Claus Parade to life each year, the moment it all comes together happens before the first drumbeat is played or baton is thrown.

"The night of the parade, I usually get in a golf cart and do the parade route backwards," she explained. "When you see the kids - and even the adults, and they can hardly wait...that's why I do this."

The parade, which this year falls on November 26, is the culmination of nearly a full year of work by a determined and organized core volunteer committee of 10 people. The group may be small, says Lamb, but they are mighty.

"People can't believe that there are only 10 of us!" she laughed. "Everybody has a specific job that they're in charge of, and each person looks after all those things that nobody knows anything about."

Those behind-the-scenes details include PR, arranging a 2-way radio system for the committee to use on the big day and tracking down everything from golf carts to port-a-potties and dumpsters. And everyone on the committee brings their own set of talents to the table, whether it's a connection to local businesses that can donate equipment or co-ordinating fundraising.

"The committee starts meeting in January, but the night of the parade, we're already booking floats for the next one," said Lamb. "At the start, we practically had to beg for people to come in, now people are calling us, this parade has gotten so popular."

Now in its eleventh year, the Flamborough Santa Claus Parade has had its share of growing pains, such as the delay caused when a police car was in a fender-bender with an anxious motorist trying to outmanoeuver the procession at Hamilton Street, or last year, when Lamb herself had a run-in with a truck at the take-off point in Joe Sams Park. But each year, the committee adds to its wealth of experience, and builds on it so that now, the whole event runs pretty much like clockwork.

"It's all 'old-hat' now, but something always comes up," muses Lamb. "It always comes down to the last week."

The action kicks off when, a week before parade day, a trailer is delivered to Waterdown District High School, so students can get to work on the float that will carry the big man himself, said Lamb. And Gary Banting and his woodworking class always deliver the ride for Santa.

On parade day itself, Lamb leaves her house at 7 a.m. and heads to Joe Sams Park to meet the trailers arriving to be decorated. After breaking for a hearty meal - Breakfast with the Men at Knox Church in Waterdown - Lamb then heads back to the park to make sure everything's running smoothly.

"I tell them, 'You are leaving at 5:30,'" she notes. "They can take all day to decorate, but they leave Joe Sams at 5:30." Thanks to the incident last year that left her with a broken arm, the committee has altered procedure this year: after 3:30 p.m., no vehicles will be allowed entry into Joe Sams. "No exceptions; it's not open for discussion."

At 4:30 p.m., "the girls" - Lamb's daughter, Shannon Newell, her daughter-in-law, Rebecca Lamb and Amy Gatscher head for Memorial Park, where they co-ordinate the performers - everything on wheels comes out of Joe Sams, and the horses get ready at the gas station just north of Parkside Drive on Hamilton Street, but the bands, dancers and other walkers gear up right here in town. Grindstone Valley Bible Church sets up a concession stand, so food is available for volunteers and police officers.

"We've developed a relationship with the police over the years," said Lamb.

At 6 p.m. sharp, groups at the various venues start queueing up - the countdown is on and like a choreographed sequence, some 80 entries are on the move towards downtown Waterdown.

Then the magic begins. The floats, which have been lined up on Centre Road are led by the EMS and fire truck; as they move by, Lamb integrates the horses into the lineup - all the while in constant communication with the women at charge at Memorial Park, who integrate the bands, dancers and walkers into the parade which will once again travel south on Hamilton Street to Dundas Street, east to Main Street then north to Parkside Drive.

"It's organized chaos," laughed Lamb.

After the parade, the committee removes the "Loonie Bins," - traditionally the funds raised during the night amount to about $5,000, which will start the ball rolling for the $30,000 cost of the following year's parade.

But the work's not quite done: the committee follows the parade route once again, to decide on the best decorated house and commercial building along the way. Then they retire to the Royal Coachman to rehash the night, collect the float judges' ballots and decide which four entries earn top honours for the year.

"We know those by the end of the evening," said Lamb. "Its always a late, late night!"

Sunday morning, the group is at it again, literally erasing all evidence of Flamborough's biggest night of the year.

"The city will charge us if they have to come and clean up," explained Lamb.

Lamb is quick to credit local sponsors and businesses who support the parade each year. Sponsorships are offered at $200 each; this year the committee tallied $11,000 in corporate donations. The community also comes on board in a big way, attending Breakfast with Santa at East Side Marios (this year November 19) and filling the Loonie Bins along the parade route. Entry fees also help cover costs: businesses pay $150 each. (The $25 fee for non-profit groups all goes back to charity.)

Several non-profit groups will also be at this year's parade. The Helping Hands Street Mission will once again be collecting socks to be distributed to those in need, and the Rotary Club will be out in force with Sana's Bells. Operation Christmas Child will be decking out a float for the night, and will be accepting filled shoeboxes to be sent to children in developing countries.

Lamb, who was considering retiring from the parade committee before her accident last year, decided she couldn't go out on such a low note. So she's sticking with it for a while longer - to see that the magic continues.

"I'm not out to change the world," she insists. "But I would like to make a little bit of a difference.

"I just wish there were two or three of me," she laughed.

Flamborough Santa Claus Parade just around the bend

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Everybody loves a parade. For some, the spell is cast with the first notes from the marching band. For others, magic strikes as the clop-clop of hooves on pavement echoes down streets more familiar with the squealing of tires and honking horns. Still others are spellbound by the costumes and floats.

But for Mary Lamb, one of the small group of sorcerers who bring the Flamborough Santa Claus Parade to life each year, the moment it all comes together happens before the first drumbeat is played or baton is thrown.

"The night of the parade, I usually get in a golf cart and do the parade route backwards," she explained. "When you see the kids - and even the adults, and they can hardly wait...that's why I do this."

The parade, which this year falls on November 26, is the culmination of nearly a full year of work by a determined and organized core volunteer committee of 10 people. The group may be small, says Lamb, but they are mighty.

"People can't believe that there are only 10 of us!" she laughed. "Everybody has a specific job that they're in charge of, and each person looks after all those things that nobody knows anything about."

Those behind-the-scenes details include PR, arranging a 2-way radio system for the committee to use on the big day and tracking down everything from golf carts to port-a-potties and dumpsters. And everyone on the committee brings their own set of talents to the table, whether it's a connection to local businesses that can donate equipment or co-ordinating fundraising.

"The committee starts meeting in January, but the night of the parade, we're already booking floats for the next one," said Lamb. "At the start, we practically had to beg for people to come in, now people are calling us, this parade has gotten so popular."

Now in its eleventh year, the Flamborough Santa Claus Parade has had its share of growing pains, such as the delay caused when a police car was in a fender-bender with an anxious motorist trying to outmanoeuver the procession at Hamilton Street, or last year, when Lamb herself had a run-in with a truck at the take-off point in Joe Sams Park. But each year, the committee adds to its wealth of experience, and builds on it so that now, the whole event runs pretty much like clockwork.

"It's all 'old-hat' now, but something always comes up," muses Lamb. "It always comes down to the last week."

The action kicks off when, a week before parade day, a trailer is delivered to Waterdown District High School, so students can get to work on the float that will carry the big man himself, said Lamb. And Gary Banting and his woodworking class always deliver the ride for Santa.

On parade day itself, Lamb leaves her house at 7 a.m. and heads to Joe Sams Park to meet the trailers arriving to be decorated. After breaking for a hearty meal - Breakfast with the Men at Knox Church in Waterdown - Lamb then heads back to the park to make sure everything's running smoothly.

"I tell them, 'You are leaving at 5:30,'" she notes. "They can take all day to decorate, but they leave Joe Sams at 5:30." Thanks to the incident last year that left her with a broken arm, the committee has altered procedure this year: after 3:30 p.m., no vehicles will be allowed entry into Joe Sams. "No exceptions; it's not open for discussion."

At 4:30 p.m., "the girls" - Lamb's daughter, Shannon Newell, her daughter-in-law, Rebecca Lamb and Amy Gatscher head for Memorial Park, where they co-ordinate the performers - everything on wheels comes out of Joe Sams, and the horses get ready at the gas station just north of Parkside Drive on Hamilton Street, but the bands, dancers and other walkers gear up right here in town. Grindstone Valley Bible Church sets up a concession stand, so food is available for volunteers and police officers.

"We've developed a relationship with the police over the years," said Lamb.

At 6 p.m. sharp, groups at the various venues start queueing up - the countdown is on and like a choreographed sequence, some 80 entries are on the move towards downtown Waterdown.

Then the magic begins. The floats, which have been lined up on Centre Road are led by the EMS and fire truck; as they move by, Lamb integrates the horses into the lineup - all the while in constant communication with the women at charge at Memorial Park, who integrate the bands, dancers and walkers into the parade which will once again travel south on Hamilton Street to Dundas Street, east to Main Street then north to Parkside Drive.

"It's organized chaos," laughed Lamb.

After the parade, the committee removes the "Loonie Bins," - traditionally the funds raised during the night amount to about $5,000, which will start the ball rolling for the $30,000 cost of the following year's parade.

But the work's not quite done: the committee follows the parade route once again, to decide on the best decorated house and commercial building along the way. Then they retire to the Royal Coachman to rehash the night, collect the float judges' ballots and decide which four entries earn top honours for the year.

"We know those by the end of the evening," said Lamb. "Its always a late, late night!"

Sunday morning, the group is at it again, literally erasing all evidence of Flamborough's biggest night of the year.

"The city will charge us if they have to come and clean up," explained Lamb.

Lamb is quick to credit local sponsors and businesses who support the parade each year. Sponsorships are offered at $200 each; this year the committee tallied $11,000 in corporate donations. The community also comes on board in a big way, attending Breakfast with Santa at East Side Marios (this year November 19) and filling the Loonie Bins along the parade route. Entry fees also help cover costs: businesses pay $150 each. (The $25 fee for non-profit groups all goes back to charity.)

Several non-profit groups will also be at this year's parade. The Helping Hands Street Mission will once again be collecting socks to be distributed to those in need, and the Rotary Club will be out in force with Sana's Bells. Operation Christmas Child will be decking out a float for the night, and will be accepting filled shoeboxes to be sent to children in developing countries.

Lamb, who was considering retiring from the parade committee before her accident last year, decided she couldn't go out on such a low note. So she's sticking with it for a while longer - to see that the magic continues.

"I'm not out to change the world," she insists. "But I would like to make a little bit of a difference.

"I just wish there were two or three of me," she laughed.