Edmonton’s outdoor winter promenade celebrates the city’s winter identity

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Brenda Collins can’t wait to tell her grandchildren in Morinville that she met Santa Claus on Sunday.

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Collins was one of a few hundred visitors who braved the cold to witness Edmonton’s first winter walk on Sunday at Grant Notley Park. Christmas carols, food trucks, an ice sculptor creating a nutcracker sculpture and colorful festive characters including a dancing Santa Claus greeted visitors from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Collins heard about it on social media and chose to check it out despite the cold. Taking a picture with Santa Claus was his favorite part.

“I think it’s lovely, especially with this whole COVID thing, it’s out there and safe,” she said. “I know it’s cold but we’ve got the clothes for it, it’s not like it’s a shock (and) we’ve never had snow before… if you go out with the gear, It’s okay.”

Another participant, Simon Canton, said it was a good way to boost people’s morale.

“We’re kinda (feelings) with the pandemic, to have this on very short notice… it’s really great,” he said. “It lifts our spirits a bit (with) the cold and the pandemic… we love it.”

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After dancing for the visitors, Santa Claus and his PR elf Jessibelle, spoke with excited children and heard their Christmas wishes. Claus said he loves meeting Canadian children because they behave and are so sweet, and seeing them was even more special this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last year, in particular, it was very difficult for us to meet so many children, so it was a real blessing,” he said.

According to Claus, Nintendo Switch, Minecraft, Roblox, and remote control helicopters are common gifts on children’s lists.

But a boy told him all he wanted was a good Christmas for everyone, and he has a similar message for the children of Edmonton.

“I just want them all to know that they are loved,” he said. “It is very important for them to know that no matter what is going on in the world, no matter what gifts you receive this year, you are all loved by us at the North Pole, and we wish you a very Merry Christmas.”

A winter fairy and other performers, including a “Yeggie” – an Edmonton yeti – also entertained visitors.

The new winter-themed festival, hosted by the Silver Skate Festival Society, is part of the city’s efforts to strengthen Edmonton’s identity as a winter city.

Several food trucks were on site and the Bissell Center and Water Warriors received donations of winter clothing and cash in the holiday spirit.

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

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