Every year on the 3rd Sunday of November, people line the streets of downtown Toronto in anticipation for what is known as the longest-running Santa Claus Parade in the world. 112 years to be exact. Little do they realize the amount of work and effort that goes into this magical day. The employees at The Toronto Santa Claus Parade work year-round like Santa’s elves, trying to pull off one of the biggest events of the city, and they turn to Rosco products to help ensure the 25 breathtaking floats and over 1500 costumes on display are as captivating as they can be.
“I go down the parade route every year and I see the kids on the street corners looking at everything we’ve created, believing in it….looking at it as if it was real.” – Alf Iannarelli, Creative Director – Toronto Santa Claus Parade
One of the trickiest parts of executing a float is matching the brand guidelines and Pantone color-specifications of the sponsor. In order to perfectly match the Pantone colors requested, the parade’s float artisans use Rosco Off Broadway scenic paints. Because the paints use a single-source pigment, they are assured a better palette of bright, mixable colors than they’d get at the local paint store. In addition, many of the colors they need to create are much more vibrant than any off-the-shelf paint can provide. The paint crew will also blend in Rosco Fluorescent scenic paint colors – which are designed to mix with other Rosco scenic paints – to make the colors pop.
The design for each float is carefully planned out; beginning with several sketches, the carving of oversized foam blocks and many hours of painting. Each color is mixed and presented to the sponsor for approval then applied to the float character. The vibrancy of every tiny detail can be seen from blocks away.
This year, children’s book retailer Indigo Kids wanted their float to present characters from their top-selling books, along with a mix of classic Christmas characters. Displayed on their float were Peppa Pig, Marshall from Paw Patrol, The Grinch, and also a large Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer book. Each detail was painted with perfectly matched Pantone colors, which really brought these characters we love to life.
For example, in order to produce the proper “Grinch Green,” float decorator Krysta Massey began with Off Broadway #5366 Lemon Yellow as the base-color, then mixed in Off Broadway #5364 Emerald Green, #5365 Chrome Oxide Green and #5350 White to achieve his Grinchy skin tone. Additional highlights and details were painted in the Off Broadway Chrome Oxide Green. Massey also used pure Lemon Yellow to create the Grinch’s evil eyes that stared out at all the Whos down below.
Many times, the sponsors will send character costumes for their float. The Toronto Santa Claus Parade, however, has a rule that people’s faces cannot be hidden. Therefore, sometimes it’s necessary to cut and manipulate the masks that have been sent in order to conform to this rule. In order to strengthen and secure the masks, costumers at the parade will apply Rosco CrystalGel to the back of the mask to ensure durability as pieces are being cut off or sewn on.
For this year’s parade, EB Games showcased characters from the hit video game Skylanders on their float. The character masks the sent over, however, were fully enclosed. Costumer Samantha Spendiff used Rosco CrystalGel to strengthen the back of the masks so that it wouldn’t fall apart when the bottom half of the front was removed. Since the inside of the mask was now exposed, Spendiff also used the CrystalGel to adhere black fabric on the inside of the mask.
Video of the 2016 Toronto Santa Claus Parade
Alf Iannarelli, Creative Director and General Manager at The Santa Claus Parade, points out: “The parade is over 100 years old. The challenge is to constantly make it new and different, bigger and better.” His creative team works hard to make sure they accomplish that as they bring the magic of the holidays to the streets of Toronto every year. In fact, as we write this article, the 2016 parade just rolled down the street a couple of weeks ago – and the designers and artists are already hard at work preparing next year’s parade. We are proud to be a part of their ongoing success.