Banff’s Santa Claus Parade

IMG_6729The main street is lined with people, children and adults alike. Lights all aglow, shops closed and waiting in anticipation for what’s to come. Snow glitters on the sidewalks and the majestic mountains surround us. It’s beautiful.

Excitement is in the air as children peek out from the crowd to look down the street to see if it’s begun. To see if Santa and his parade are coming. Waiting patiently, yet continually asking Mom and Dad if it’s time yet. This is Banff’s annual Santa Claus parade, held at night with the beauty and magic of Christmas lights all around.

IMG_6700We attended this beautiful event for the first time this year, and it is well worth the trip out to Banff. Currently run by Banff Lake Louise Tourism for the past 7 years, this event has been hosted by the Town of Banff for many years prior. The parade itself is actually the finale of a day filled with kid friendly and family activities such as face painting, balloon twisting, Christmas carols and a visit and photo with Santa down at the train station. There’s also horse drawn wagon rides, tasty treats and of if you’re up for it, a nice soak in the hot springs (which is available every day of the year but is always lovely).

I love touring Banff Avenue and spending time in the Christmas Shoppe. My youngest two, screaming in delight at the grand display of Christmas houses and towns. The ornaments are many, the options are delightful and there is no shortage of Christmas anywhere.

IMG_6723The parade itself is only half an hour long, which I feel is the perfect length for children, who remain engaged and excited the whole time. The floats were gorgeous, creative and unique all lit up as they moved down the street. From the Girl Guides to Sunshine Village there was an excellent representation of the town.

Of course I loved that it was at night. It just added to the atmosphere and excitement with all the floats magically lit up. Even my oldest son, who is 12 and I was unsure if he would like it, expressed that he did enjoy it and said it was “cool”, which meant we had success.

IMG_6677I think Santa Claus parades are such a fabulous idea and up until recently only knew of the big ones in Toronto and New York. I didn’t realize that many of the local towns in and around Calgary host their own Santa Claus Parades and they are quite well done! Parades are held in High River, Okotoks, Airdrie, and Cochrane (which if you still want to attend a Santa Claus Parade this season is this Saturday, December 12th). I think it’s a great way to celebrate the season and your community. And everyone has that little flare and does things a little differently, distinguishing themselves from the rest.

You can go to any of the town’s websites for details and pick the ones you want, or even do a tour! of Santa Parades – how fun would that be? We are already planning for Banff again next year, hoping to take full advantage of the day and all the activities they have to offer. We might even take the plunge and stay overnight!

IMG_6696It creates such great memories an event that I hope every family has the opportunity to enjoy.

Have you attended a Santa Claus parade this year? Share with us your memories and experience.

Wedding Escape Star Wars Style

With the use and creativity of technology these days you can basically do anything. So when my sister’s photographer suggested they do this bridal party shot as one of their wedding photos, Leslie and Paul (the bride and groom) were all over it.

As avid Star Wars fans this picture was perfect for them. We literally ran down the street in front of the Eglinton Grand Theater in Toronto between light changes, feigning faces of fear, as the photographer, Tony and Danielle Lombardo of Little Blue Lemon Photography took shots.

It was a rush, so fun and now has literally gone viral on the net, with my sister and her new husband fielding many media requests and enjoying the spotlight. What a great addition to their big day!

Believe it or not I am in this picture too, as I was one of Leslie‘s 8 bridesmaids, but all you can see is the toe of my shoe and the bottom of my dress in about the middle of the photo. Regardless it was super fun and I am so happy for my sister and new brother in law.

Little Blue Dots on the Horizon

I have always thought of Toronto as my adult playground. The place where I can go and play, party, stay out late and then get up early and go again, for days. I may return tired but revived, having enjoyed some true adult playtime and enjoying the energy and freedom of the city (and being sans enfants).

I also enjoy the sites and attractions, some of which I return to again and again, each time discovering something new. This trip I headed down to Niagara Falls with Matthew (yes this time it was not a sans enfants trip, he was in the wedding party I had to take him ha ha). He had never been before and was interested in seeing the falls. I love that area in general and find that there is lots to do there.

This area is what I like to call the Canadian version of Las Vegas (though I have never been to Vegas I imagine it to be so), with the main street lined with flashy shops and entertainment of all kinds. Haunted Houses, wax musuems, restuarants, etc. It is a huge family playground and you can spend lots of money very quickly. It is bright, vibrant and busy with lots of variety.

This is on top of all the attractions to do with the falls itself, such as the Journey Behind the Falls, Maid of the Mist and the Whitewater Walk. I had done the Journey Behind the Falls on my previous visit but had never been on the Maid of the Mist and always wanted to go. So this was our goal this time, if it was the only thing that we did we would be happy.

This was definitely the highlight of our visit (well it was for me I think Matthew would likely vote for the Dinosaur Adventure Golf we played later on). The Maid of the Mist is a boat that takes visitors on a boat ride tour to the foot of the Falls where you get a fabulous (and wet) view of the 13 storey falls. Each visitor receives a souvenir (and completely unfunctional) Maid of the Mist blue raincoat to keep them dry on their tour. Matthew and I put ours on with pride, overtop of our raincoats, which I had the forsight to bring, getting more and more excited as we got closer to our tour. *the raincoats are really just long thing poncho style pieces of thin plastic with a hood and though they look good really do not protect you from getting wet at all

It was hilarious to watch previous boats going out with little blue dots of people on  it waiting in excitement and anticipation to view the falls up close. Everyone went out dry and smiling and came back soaking wet.

I had been told by a friend who had gone the previous week to expect to get wet but I did not realize that he meant drenched. We got on the boat and happily went to the front. We drifted past the American Falls, fantastically close as we continued toward the Canadian side. As we went past the first set of falls we got a little damp from some of the mist, listening over the roar of the falls to the recorded interpretation and history of the falls. I thought that was the worst of it.

Our excitement rose as we got closer and closer to the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. The roar of the falls getting louder and the mist beginning to become more and more. Soon it felt like it was raining and we were getting even closer. Matthew and I screamed in joy and delight as we were literally getting completely drenched. It was amazing, just drifting there in the falls for a few minutes, getting completely soaked. (I now knew why the one girl who walked off the boat before us was combing her wet hair). It was a euphoric experience. You may think it weird to enjoy getting that wet but it was cool, to be that close to the falls in our fancy raincoats literally soaking it in. Hard to describe but it was awesome.

The Unveiling

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in and attending my sister’s wedding. It is always a fabulous time when I go see my sister in Toronto. She and many of her friends are actors so it is never boring and continually entertaining. Also my sister in general just has this larger than life energy, she is one of those people that exudes joy, laughter and fun, someone everyone wants to be around.

So things like unveiling the wedding menu (in this picture) which can be a very mundane and ordinary event, are turned into fun, exciting and extraordinary events. Leslie feeling very proud of it pulled it out to show us and asked us all to give her a fantastic reaction, which of course we did!

Unveiling the Menu with the Bride, Maid of Honour and Mother of the Bride

I think we should all take a page out of Leslie’s book and make every moment we can memorable, exciting and fun. I know there are times when this may not be possible, but imagine the excitement and joy in each day when you live like this.