Santa Claus may have made his last visit on his ol’ clunking sleigh

By Katrina Hueging

This year’s 105th Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade was another amazing success. And although the temperatures were a bit colder than previous years, Winnipeg children bundled up to eagerly attend the day’s festivities, which did not disappoint.
The afternoon started off for JCI Winnipeg with the hosting of our annual Santa’s Workshop for inner city youth. We invite local youth to spend a few hours with their families making crafts, enjoying lunch, getting their faces painted, and, the best part for many: meeting Santa Claus himself.
Nothing will top the excited look on a child’s face when they get to meet Santa, and we even had professional photographs taken of each of the children with Santa that we provide to the families at no cost.
From the workshop, the JCI Winnipeg team headed outside to start our annual Block Party. This year, we took up two city blocks with a couple of big street hockey games to keep families warm and having fun while they waited for the parade to start. Hot chocolate and sweet treats were also served with any donations made to JCI Winnipeg – which are going toward rebuilding our Santa float, our most visible contribution to the parade.
Since the 1970s, JCI Winnipeg has been a proud steward of “the” Santa float, which many have grown up seeing Santa ride on for more than 50 years. This is the final float of the parade which JCI Winnipeg is always excited to walk alongside.
As many Manitobans have seen in the news recently, the JCI Winnipeg float has almost seen its last Christmas. With materials that date back 50 to 80 years, including old original Eaton’s store billboards, we feel it is time we honour Santa and his reindeer with a new float.
Our challenge is that we are a small non-profit volunteer group that simply does not have the funds to purchase a new float. In conjunction with the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT), we have secured an agreement that it will help us build a new structure if we can raise the money and materials to get it done.
This is where we need your help!
Estimated costs by MITT are that a basic new float will cost about $50,000 with a more advanced float around $100,000. Our goal is to build a beautiful piece of Manitoba history that can continue to bring Santa to the children for many more years to come. Simple items such as a fiberglass reindeer can cost upwards of $2,000 each and with eight reindeer total, you can see how this is a large financial undertaking.
We are asking the residents and business owners of Manitoba to help us with securing money, materials (such as a trailer, wood, float material, etc.), as well as coming up with fundraising ideas to help us make this campaign successful.
Help us design Santa’s sleigh
Along with our fundraising efforts, JCI Winnipeg also needs some great ideas on what design we should use for our new float. Santa has asked us to get the children of Winnipeg to draw what they would like to see Santa ride in the float.
Designs may be displayed on JCI’s blog, Facebook and Twitter account to show off what talented kids we have in Winnipeg.
To enter, simply visit to download and print the design page, then have a child draw the sleigh they would like to see Santa on. If you cannot download the design page, simply use a blank piece of paper but be sure to include the child’s name and age along with the picture.
2015 is going to see our Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade held in conjunction with the Grey Cup Parade, so eyes from across Canada and even around the world are going to be on our city. We look forward to the continued support of Manitobans to help us make this event something that everyone can be proud of.
For more information on how you can help JCI Winnipeg, please contact Katrina Hueging at 204-803-4939 or via email at
Thank you to all of the sponsors who helped us make this year’s JCI Winnipeg parade day events a success: Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre, University of Winnipeg, Food Fare, MB Battery Distributors Inc., Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, The Salvation Army, Dustin Cochrane Photography, and all of our wonderful volunteers.
On behalf of all of us at JCI Winnipeg, we want to wish everyone all the best this holiday season and new year!

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