I couldn’t help myself last night. I just had to dress up like Charles Dickens for the Belmont Santa Claus Parade. It was full regalia: dress shirt and tie, top hat, long dress coat and a red scarf (courtesy of the TFC soccer team). Oh, and I used spirit gum to develop an instant moustache, a black handlebar jobbie.
I walked down Main Street to the staging area an hour before the departure time, coming across various gaggles of humanity. Each time, I announced myself as Charles Dickens, arrived earlier in the day from England, and asked if there was a parade happening soon. Most people laughed and joined in the fun. One couple playfully directed me to the wrong end of town. A few folks just stared but that’s okay. I guess I was an abrupt shock.
Down at parade central, I joshed with kids and adults, many of whom I knew, as the rain began. It would last for the next hour. My task was to walk beside the Belmont Diner float, handing out mini-chocolate bars. Based on my parading two years ago, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Kids deserved their five seconds of eye contact. So my bag was plum full of tasty treats. I felt “like a peddler, just opening his pack.” Strength training here I come.
As our cavalcade spilled onto Main Street, there were the kids … hundreds of them on the route. One bar for each small human, and a huge mustachioed smile. “Merry Christmas!”, “God bless us everyone”, and other assorted holiday greetings. I mentioned to the adults that they’d get chocolate if they were under 15, and many of them happily volunteered that they were. The ones who spoke up got a bar. Why not?
I told a few kids that hidden beneath the plastic wrapping of their treat was a lovely piece of broccoli. Pained faces, until I corrected that to chocolate, “which as we all know is one of Canada’s four major food groups. By the way, the other three are also chocolate.” So … many smiles.
I saw lots of kids I knew, and received several hugs from children who could see beneath my disguise to the Mr. Kerr within. I only forgot one name and awkwardly looked at the boy for a few seconds after “Merry Christmas”. I was sad that I couldn’t remember his name. After all, he was in the class where I volunteered last year. But that’s life. Perfection is not me.
I was so happy to see people, young and old, who are part of my life. And they were happy to see me. Belmont has been my home for two years and now I belong. What a sweet feeling.
As someone wise once said
“Home is where the heart is”