Pakenham Santa Claus “Chicken Pox” Parade — Wall Street Journal




Photo from- 2016 Santa Claus Parade by Sheryl Smith- Gardening Ontario Pakenham– Photos taken by: Judy McGrath


Compiled by Evelyn (Bole) Storey, of Pakenham.

Received from George Stewart of Almonte –

Pakenham parade story in New York newspaper – The following article on the Pakenham Christmas parade appeared in the Dec 10 Wall Street Journal and was given to the Chronicle Pakenham correspondent. ( no year was given)

Santa Claus is coming to town tomorrow, but the Chicken Pox got here first. Santa is coming anyway. He had chicken pox before back in the winter of 1911 and isn’t worried about catching it again. But lots of folks are worried about catching it or already have it, and may stay home tomorrow instead of taking part in the welcoming parade. Which means that of all the Christmas celebrations around the globe, there is at least one, this tiny population of 371 rural communities annual do -it-yourself Santa Claus parade, that may not be bigger than ever this year.

The parade here is no match in any case for the televised Thanksgiving and Christmas extravaganzas put on by the big department stores, Macy’s in New York , Gimbels in Philadelphia , Hudsons in Detroit and Eatons in Toronto spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on theirs. But this cattle raising community, 40 miles from Ottawa and hundreds of other small towns continue to stage their own celebrations.


Photo from- 2016 Santa Claus Parade by Sheryl Smith- Gardening Ontario Pakenham– Photos taken by: Judy McGrath


The town of Pakenham is spending say $125 and individual residents spent some of their own money. The floats threatened by Chicken pox certainly is complicating things. Mrs. Esther Timmins says she may have to forget about her Dairy Fare Float saluting Dairy Products. One of the girls who were supposed to ride on it came down with chicken pox last weekend on a 4 -H outing, and the other girls were all exposed to it. Mrs. Lois Timmins, Esther Timmins’ daughter -in -law, is worried about her Raggedy Ann and Andy float. Her three children Scott 10, Paul 8 and Julie 6, were all exposed to the disease at school and Julie and her cousin Erica are supposed to be Raggedy Ann and Andy. Come what may the parade will go on. A pox on it isn’t going to stop it.

Santa will arrive on a sleigh rigged by Jim Barr and pulled by Evan Keatley’s tractor. By 1 p.m. when the parade leaves the playing field for the 1/2 mile trip across town practically everybody will have contributed energy or farm equipment to the affair. The fact that everybody pitches in, on parade day, and during all the weeks leading up to it is what makes the parade a success every year. A former Pakenham resident recalls a poem that captures the flavour of the event. The fun’s homemade and all you could want at the big parade In Pakenham , Ontario .



Photo from- 2016 Santa Claus Parade by Sheryl Smith- Gardening Ontario Pakenham– Photos taken by: Judy McGrath–Many thanks to Marg Bourke-chef hat creator , Toby Barrett for the
Tree, Paul Larrive  for his truck and his grandkids, Sandi Mc Manus, Fern
Martin, Judy McGrath, Elise Perron and Sherryl Smith for creative
decorating, “baking” and participation.


One suspects that the former Pakenham resident manufactured the poem on the spot. Nobody in Pakenham, or in all of Ontario could be found who had ever heard of it. Still it rings true. The object here is entirely fun whereas the big department store parades are partly designed to impress potential customers– and the Pakenham parade sure is homemade. “People here can stand on their own feet and they want Pakenham recognized as a town that can do that,” says Jutta Barker who has recently moved here from Ottawa .

Noah on a Wagon  So every year, people take their farm equipment out of their barns and put together the Christmas parade. Assorted pick -up trucks, hay wagons and tractors are volunteered, community and church group decorate the vehicles and children rummage for Halloween costumes. The floats depend on the ingenuity of the residents. Among other things, this year’s parade will include the local Anglican church’s Noah’s Ark on a hay wagon. A highlight this year will be a fly past by five private planes.

As usual, four members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s famed Musical Ride will lead the parade. The Mounties stable the show horses near here. Anyone can get in the parade and many do. “Last year I saw a bunch of kids freezing on the corner when I drove by on my float,” says Harry Barr, Jim’s cousin , so I just invited them to hop aboard. If a sizeable group of onlookers shows up tomorrow the parade may just go around the block twice,” figures Ian Paige a local shopowner.

Even without chicken pox, the parade sometimes has problems. The route was shortened a while back when floats could not navigate the icy hill. And last year Jack Wall, a paunchy civil servant, who was supposed to be Santa Claus, never showed up. “A terrible catastrophe,” he concedes. He says someone who was supposed to give him a ride to the parade failed to arrive. Also there won’t be a band this year. The one from nearby Carleton Place that usually performs has folded. It is hoped that transistor radios, massed on one float and all tuned to, the same musical station will take up the slack. Jutta Barker and her husband Michael, an engineer will decide who wins the $25 prize for the best float. Mrs. Barker thinks Pakenham may be the voluntarism capital of Canada . “I’ve only been here four months she says, and I already have a Brownie Troop and I’m judging this parade”.


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Where Were the Miracle Salt Springs in Pakenham? I Love a Challenge!

Whale Sightings in Pakenham and Smiths Falls – Holy SeaWorld!

The Queen Versus Howard –Abduction with an OJ Defense?

Did You Know the Village of Pakenham Moved?



Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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