Santa Claus Parade Endures

Photo: December 1992 - 1st Tavistock Beavers dressed as reindeer and pulling Santa's sleigh are, left to right: kneeling - Daniel Ferguson, Jeremy Quehl, Steven Meekes; standing - Mark Brooks, Mark Halliday, Travis Blum, and Adrian Loree. (Photo courtesy of the Tavistock Gazette)

By Mary Nicklas

WE HAVE RECENTLY enjoyed watching the Men’s Club Annual Santa Claus Parade. Christmas parties with packs for up to 700 youngsters sponsored by the Men’s Club have been held annually since 1939. The venue has changed over the years. It began outdoors around the lighted Christmas tree in the square, and now a parade is held featuring floats from organizations, commercial establishments and families and has had musical accompaniment by local groups, Tavistock Citizens Band, New Hamburg Concert Band, North Easthope Pipe Band and the Hickson Central School Band.

During WW 2 money was collected for the British Children’s Fund to help thousands of children in England who were without a home and parents and would not have the happy Christmas Canadians enjoyed. In 1950 the 10th annual visit of Santa to our town both the Opera Hall and the Library Hall were jammed for the visit and at both Halls comedy motion pictures were shown, with Walter Schaefer and Carl Seltzer as the projectionists. The Men’s Club sold tickets on turkeys to raise the money to provide candy for the children. In a space of about 5 years it went from being in the Opera Hall and Library Hall (both halls are no longer). Then In 1953-1955 in the Arena which the owners graciously gave free to the Men’s Club and 1956 to the Memorial Hall. Starting in mid 1960’s entertainment was provided by residents of the community and Santa also visited the nursing and seniors homes.

The first Santa Claus Parade was held Nov 26, 1983 with twenty-three entries. The Tavistock Citizens Band along with the Wilmot Twirlers led the parade with the North Easthope Pipe Band participating. Other floats included Bonnie Brae Nursing Home, Baby Band, Four Thumbs, Tavistock Cheese Co., Mohr's Home Hardware, Sommers Motor Generator Sales, Stedman's Store, Township of East Zorra-Tavistock, Tavistock Braves, Tavistock Brownies, Tavistock Fire Department, Doug Wiffen Family, Penny Jensen Family, People CareCentre, Len Johnson Family, Hostess Munchie and of course Santa Claus. . His sleigh pulled into the parking lot beside Mohr's hardware and the people flocked to the site where Santa and his helpers handed out candy canes, rings and potato chips to 500 children. Congratulations to the Merchants Retail Committee for their most rewarding efforts. To say it was a success for Tavistock's first Santa Claus Parade would put it very mildly. It was tremendous!

The Tavistock Men’s Club and Board of Trade continued to sponsor the event every year until 1992 and since then the Men’s Club alone sponsors the parade. One special feature of the parade since its beginning is Tavistock’s first motorized fire vehicle. The restoration of the 1925 Ford Model T. was in charge of Ed Pellow manager of South Easthope Mutual Insurance Company. The 2015 parade was also a tremendous success with 21 entries. We look forward to the 2016 parade to see who will participate.

Acknowledgements: Tavistock Gazette and Fact & Fantasy.