Parade crashers stage Santa ‘dance party’ on Columbia Street
To the people who came to Saturday’s Parade of Lights on Columbia Street, it looked like it would be another fun—but familiar—parade like previous years.
The parade began with the Hyack representatives marching, and the requisite politicians waving from their convertibles at the onlookers who had gathered to enjoy the annual festive event at the end of a gorgeous December day. Then, the Santas arrived.
Just as the parade was starting hundreds of ‘Santas’ streamed out of the Columbia Street SkyTrain station, near the marshalling area for the floats and other parade participants.
“Everybody was surprised,” said Melanie Vogel, executive director of Hyack Festival Association, which organized the parade.
The mob of Santa-clad revellers were making lots of noise, many carrying “boom box” stereos. The group was dancing and cheering as they joined the parade—an unofficial entry.
“It was not organized by Hyack at all,” said Vogel, adding that most people in the crowd thought it was all quite funny and entertaining.
The group had a portable trampoline, and a few had sleds that they carried along.
Most wore Santa robes and hats—some quite elaborate, while others looked cobbled together. A few others wore risqué Ms. Claus outfits.
The crowd seemed to enjoy the spectacle, Vogel said.
However, she added, there was one reveler dressed in a suggestive way that Vogel said was inappropriate for a family-oriented event.
“I got complaints—even I thought it was not funny. He was pushing the boundaries. Everybody else was just having fun and enjoying themselves. On behalf of Hyack, we want to give our apologies for the man who offended any families.”
The group danced its way with the parade down towards New Westminster SkyTrain Station, at the corner of Eighth and Columbia, where they lingered and continued their “dance party.”
The spontaneous event appears to have been organized by an outfit called Tom and Gary’s Dynamic Dance Party Delivery Service, according to the blog where pictures are posted. They dubbed the event the Fourth Ever Decentralized Dance Party/Vancouver Santacon 2009.
In a previous event, a large group dressed in giant banana costumes was seen at various locations around town, including SkyTrain and the SeaBus.
According to the blog, Saturday’s “highlights included Brentwood Mall Crawl, Santa’s Private Skytrain, the unauthorized crashing of the New Westminster Santa Claus Parade and Figgy Puddings!”
At the end of Saturday’s parade, the 23rd annual event, many people gathered at Hyack Square for speeches, free hot chocolate and cookies, and to enjoy music from a live band.