Today we woke up bright and early, put on our red and green layers, hit the Starbucks drive-thru for some holiday drinks, and headed downtown to catch our first Santa Parade here in Austin.
When I was a kid, one thing I loved about the holidays was my city’s annual Santa Parade. We had just started taking Toddler Gaga last year, and he had a ball watching all the local bands, dance troupes, and floats go by with his cousin. I was shocked that two little boys could have the attention span to sit and watch for two hours in the cold, but they waited excitedly all the way until the end when the big guy in red himself arrived. While I was sad that we weren’t going to be able to attend with my family again this year, I was pretty excited to see that Austin at least has a Santa Parade (technically they call it the “Children Giving to Children Christmas Parade”… more on that long name later). So I marked our calendar weeks in advance for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
I love this city. It was so effortless to find parking close to the downtown parade route just a half hour before start time, and — although the streets were lined on both sides — it was still relatively easy to stake out a pretty good viewing spot.
Toddler Gaga loved the loud motorcade, complete with a stagecoach, that kicked off the festivities. When in Texas, right?
Next came lots of fun floats, super heros, and entertainers to get the crowd in the holiday spirit.
There were also gigantic balloon floats interspersed throughout that made us feel like we were at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade minus the freezing cold temps and NYC crowds.
But by far our favorite moment from the parade was when the vehicles stopped mid-route and all the children ran out into the street to load up the designated Toy Trucks with new, unwrapped gifts for children in need.
I thought it would be impossible to pry those toys from my kids’ hands and that, surely, there would be tears heard from children in every direction. But I couldn’t have underestimated the generosity of little people more! In less than a minute, these pick-up trucks lining the whole parade route were overflowing with toys and backup bins were needed.
It was pretty special and such a beautiful way to start teaching children at a young age about the importance of giving back.
The parade could’ve ended right then and there and I think we all would have gone home feeling pretty satisfied, but the magic kept coming.
Right after the toy trucks started up again, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus appeared, ridin’ in style in a convertible. This isn’t the North Pole, after all. Toddler Gaga waved and shouted “HIIIII, SANTAAAAA!!!” This is a pretty magical age and time of year. Being a parent is too much fun sometimes.
But of course a Santa Parade held in the Live Music Capital of the World isn’t complete until the King himself arrives.
Nicely done, Austin! We have been playing “parade” at home ever since we left and Toddler Gaga has already told us again and again how much he can’t wait to come back next year.