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Explore the rich history of the Parade.

The Volunteer Spirit

You may be surprised that the Santa Claus Parade is a not-for-profit organization and doesn’t receive any public funding. The Santa Claus Parade has been spreading joy for over 100 years, and has been made possible through the help of thousands of volunteers and sponsors since the first parade in 1913.

If we are to keep this great Canadian national treasure alive, we need your support now, more than ever. Please make a donation of any amount, so we can keep this great tradition going!

Our Board Members

Peter Beresford

President and CEO/Director
  • Volunteer President, CEO and Board Member for 35 years
  • Chairman of Funding Innovation Inc, an art /easel program across Canada that raises millions of dollars for Charity
  • Former Global Executive with McDonalds Corp. for 31 years. Former Chairman and CEO for McDonalds UK and Executive Vice President for McDonalds Canada and Japan

Ross Morton

Executive Vice President/Director
  • EVP, Director and Celebrity Clown of the Santa Claus Parade
  • Volunteer Celebrity Clown for 22 years and Board Member 3 years
  • Advisor, mentor, forensic expert and reassurer to the life insurance industry
  • Past includes international risk management, assisting new companies in 14 countries, senior executive roles, and speaking engagements in 45 countries
  • Farm boy from Harriston, Ontario

Alfred Iannarelli

General Manager & Creative Director
  • Started with the Parade as a summer student in 1970
  • Has been the General Manager/Creative Director overseeing designs since 1983
  • Volunteer Chair of Seneca College’s Visual Merchandising Advisory Board for 15 years

Mike Bartlett

Executive Vice President/Director
  • Head of Community Affairs & Events for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and the Executive Director for the MLSE Foundation
  • Former Vice President of the Oakville Hospital Foundation
  • Has helped raise close to $100 million to support national and local causes and was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for his work on behalf of MLSE
  • In 2016 Mike was named MLSE’s Coach of the Year recognizing his contributions to the company as a senior leader

Rino D’Onofrio

Director, VP Finance
  • Current Board member and Celebrity Clown for 4 years
  • Senior Vice President, RBC Insurance
  • Past Chair, Board of Governors, Junior Achievement of Central Ontario
  • Volunteer, Habitat for Humanity

Nicole Gallucci

Director, VP Marketing
  • Partner, Managing Director FUSE
  • Former Co-Founder CEO BOOM! Marketing
  • Author, Global Speaker, Advertising & Marketing Prof at George Brown

Jeff Weiss

Director, Marketing & Communications
  • Board member for 5 years, Celebrity Clown and Volunteer for 7 years
  • President of Harbinger, a marketing communications agency specializing in brands targeting women
  • Former marketing executive with Sprint Canada, Danone, Gillette and Pepsi-Cola Canada

Dianne Schwalm

  • Volunteer Board Member for over 20 years
  • VP of Partnership/Development New Franchise Media Inc
  • Former Sr. VP of Marketing for Warner Bros Canada

Chris Tambakis

Director, Celebrity of Clowns
  • CEO, North America of Adgar investments & Development Inc., an owner of office properties with holdings in Canada, Israel and Europe
  • Celebrity Clown for 14 years and Board Member for 3 years
  • Passionate Community Volunteer with organizations including The Heart & Stroke Foundation, Ivey Business School and The Ontario Science Centre

Becky Conroy

Director, Sales & Sponsorship
  • Passionate kids content creator and sales professional with over 15 years experience in publishing, editorial, social media, marketing and media sales.
  • Board member for over 8 years
  • Currently Becky is the Content Caterpillar, helping clients with design, content creation, content marketing and social media.
  • Consultant for kids magazine “BaZoof!”

Scott Powrie

Director, Sales & Sponsorship
  • Santa Claus Parade board member since 2015
  • Member of the Santa Claus Parade Broadcast Committee
  • Director, Global Partnerships at MLSE
  • A sports and entertainment business professional with over 14 years of sales and marketing experience in 5 different professional sports leagues (NHL, NBA, MLS, AHL, and CFL)

Gavin Thompson

  • Vice President, Corporate Affairs at Molson Coors Canada
  • Experience in financial, technology and consumer goods sectors as well as a highly motivated leader
  • Specialties include: Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Governance, Public Affairs, Government Relations, Public Relations, Communications

David McCarthy

  • Board member for 2 years. Personal chauffeur for CEO Elf on parade day!
  • Partner, Stikeman Elliott LLP, with specialties in corporate and North Pole law
  • Governor, Golf Canada / Royal Canadian Golf Association. Highlights include acting as Official Starter at Men’s Canadian Open.

Scott Sutherland

  • Scott Sutherland is a serial entrepreneur and investor who graduated with a degree in Business & Urban Development finance at the University of Western Ontario
  • His background includes specializing in currency trading and investment banking throughout Asia up until the late 1990s where he returned to Canada, investing and assisting a variety of companies to ensure financial growth
  • Scott is involved with various charitable works including Believe-to Achieve Organization, founded by Charles “Spider” Jones, a not for profits group, that assists youth at risk in high crime neighborhoods. Scott currently holds the position of Executive Director
  • Scott and his wife are proud Celebrity Clowns


Ron Barbaro

  • Founded the Parade Organization in 1982 with George Cohon
  • Served as a Member of the Board and Co-Chairman from 1982 to 2014
  • Founded the Celebrity Clowns in 1983
  • Retired from the Board of Directors in 2014

George Cohon

  • Founded the Parade Organization in 1982 with Ron Barbaro
  • Served as a Member of the Board and Co-Chairman from 1982 to 2014
  • Retired from the Board of Directors in 2014

Honorary Directors

Ray Biggart

  • Served as an original Member of the Board from 1982 to 2013
  • Served as Secretary of the Board from 1982 to 2010
  • Retired from active duty on the Board in 2013 and was named Honourary Director

Irving Ungerman

  • Served as an Original Member of the Board from 1982 to 2009
  • Retired from active duty on the Board in 2009 and was named Honourary Director

Eric Conroy

  • Served as a Director of the Organization for 28 years from 1984 to 2012
  • Served as Executive Vice President and Director of Sales and Sponsorship from 2008 to 2012
  • Retired from active duty on the Board in 2012 and was named Honourary Director

The History

  • Historic Hooves


    Eaton’s arranged for Santa to be pulled by live reindeer, which had been imported from Labrador specifically for the Parade. The reindeer had a dedicated veterinarian who looked after them and supplied their special diet of moss.
    Following the Parade, the reindeer retired to the property of an Eaton’s Executive outside Toronto. That year, children along the route started to march through the city along with Santa, stopping to dance and sing as they went.
    They dropped letters to Santa into baskets on poles carried by bearers. Every letter with an address received a personal response from Santa.

  • Birds of a Feather


    By this time, the Parade had seven floats starring nursery rhyme characters. The biggest float that year was a giant swan carrying a band of musicians and clowns, with Santa in the centre of it all. Mother Goose also became a Parade tradition, taking newer more elaborate forms each year.

  • Air Santa


    This was the year Santa arrived by air. He touched down on the Aerodrome on Eglinton Avenue, seven years before Lindbergh arrived in Paris. He was to be pulled by horses with outriders dressed as lions. However, the horses balked at the costumes worn by the outriders and were subsequently banned from the Parade.

  • A Tale of Two Cities


    To escape from the realities of the Great Depression, families pressed their ears to the radio. Starting in the early 1930s, CFRB radio began broadcasting a month of dramatic programming that followed Santa’s journey from the North Pole to Toronto. By the time the Parade took place, children and adults alike were beyond excitement. Santa brought with him a magic and mystery that gave everyone hope.

  • Escape from Depression Doldrums


    This was the year Santa arrived by air. He touched down on the Aerodrome on Eglinton Avenue, seven years before Lindbergh arrived in Paris. He was to be pulled by horses with outriders dressed as lions. However, the horses balked at the costumes worn by the outriders and were subsequently banned from the Parade.

  • World War Spirit


    During World War II when materials were scarce, most of the Parade costumes were made of paper. A big draw during this period was for children to watch the Parade from office buildings along the route. All the windows facing South were crowded with children, including the Park Plaza Hotel (today’s Park Hyatt).

  • ‘Punkinhead’ is Born


    In 1948 Eaton’s published a children’s book called Punkinhead, the Sad Little Bear. It was about a teddy bear who wanted to be in the Santa Claus Parade. Eaton’s published several books of Punkinhead’s adventures, as well as colouring books, records and television commercials. He was so well-known that children cheered him when he marched in the Parade.

  • Santa on the Small Screen


    By 1950, the Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade was the largest in North America and was first televised on CBC in 1952. For years after that, the Parade was filmed and packaged for schools with professional narration by such well-known broadcasters as Byng Whitteker and Don Harron.

  • The Parade Grows


    There were 13 large floats in the 1957 Parade and nearly 20 smaller floats with two horse-drawn carriages. Two thousand people marched in the Parade that year, with the majority from Metropolitan Toronto Secondary Schools led by 30 teacher Parade marshals. The Parade was six miles long and began at 8:30AM – after two solid hours of makeup and dressing

  • Popularity Demands Longer Route


    More than 30 million people across North America watched the Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade on television. In 1976, there were 33 small and large floats in the Parade, with room for more than 200 children on the floats and 500 marchers. The route was lengthened to 7.5 miles to allow for larger crowds.

  • The Parade Goes Global


    1980 marked the 75th anniversary of the Parade and 1,700 volunteers participated in the ‘Parade Salute’, a special theme to mark the year. The Parade featured floats for Canada’s major regions, including the Prairies, the Yukon, the West and East coasts. Punkinhead lead a float carrying children from 24 countries to honour the International Year of the Child.

  • Barbaro and Cohon save the Parade


    Eaton’s announced it was withdrawing from sponsorship of the Parade after 77 years. Within three days, Ron Barbaro and George Cohon formed a not-for-profit Organization and became Co-Chairmen and Founders. Together, they signed 20 Companies to sponsor floats in the first year. The tradition of the Celebrity Clowns began in 1983, when more than 60 Executives paid $ 1,000 each to hand out baloons, march and entertain kids along the Parade route.

  • Turning the Lights On


    The lights around Queen’s Park Circle were lit early for the Parade for the first time in 1985. Now there is an annual tree lighting ceremony in downtown Toronto during the days leading up to the Santa Claus Parade.

  • The Russian Connection


    Between 1989 and 1991, the Santa Claus Parade formed an alliance with Russia (the Soviet Union) just as the Soviet era was coming to a close. In 1989, two Soviet broadcasters, Herman Solomatin and Tetyana Vedenyeva provided on-the-spot coverage of the Parade, which was broadcast to 250 million viewers in the Soviet Union via the Gosteleradio Network. Based on this interest, Russia was invited to participate in the Parade in 1991.

  • 100 Years of Smiles


    Today, there are more than 25 animated floats with themes ranging from Harry Potter to Hockey Night in Canada. More than 200 Celebrity Clowns lead the Parade and raise about $200,000 annually, while around 2,000 costumed participants march happily through Toronto’s streets. Toronto police asked Parade organizers to extend the route by one mile in order to spread out the crowds of spectators.Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade is the longest running children’s Parade in the world, broadcast across North America, as far away as New Zealand, Norway and Ireland.

The Sweetest Sponsors

Since 1982, Companies across Canada have rallied to support and save the parade. Without their support, the parade would have ended and the many memories we have made over the past many decades would have never happened. A big thank you to the following sponsors for their generosity.


Celebrity Clown Sponsors

Friends of the Parade

Contact Us

The Santa Claus Parade