Leafing through the pages of the parade and comparing them to a few clips of this year’s parade I wonder if children would even know this nursery rhyme? The theories (yes there are entire books of the meaning behind various childhood rhymes) about who the lady is are many – Good Queen Bess? Lady Godiva? a local Banburian beauty? – an in some versions she becomes an old lady or has even had gender-realignment and is Young Johnny or Tommy. I remember this was the little song that accompanied many a leg-horsy ride when I was a tot.
My friend Judy tells me she was a participant in the parade for ten years starting in the 1952 parade. She says ” (I) gradually worked my way up from a little kid sitting on a float, to walking for miles (usually with something outlandish on my head) to the ‘crowning’ glory of bring one of the major characters with a huge skirt and tiara.” So she was one of those lucky kids I was so envious of!!
Though she didn’t show up in the 1953 Colouring Book, Mother Goose has appeared in more parades than any other fairy tale character. Her first appearance was in 1917; the huge goose float that she first road on in 1930 was used for the next thirty years. Each year the goose would get a fresh colour of paint – some years white, others pink, blue or yellow.
Despite a depression and two world wars the parade was an annual event – perhaps more needed in those dark times than any other. In 1930 CFRB began to broadcast daily progress updates tracing Santa’s progress from the North Pole to Toronto – culminating in a vivid description festive march on the big arrival day itself. It was a bright break in a time when news was anything but.
With Cinderella riding in a sparkling slipper this year there was no point in letting a perfectly good pumpkin go to waste. A fresh coat of paint, new livery for the horses and Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater and his wife had an almost new way of getting down the parade route. Ingenious solutions and recycling was nothing new for the parade craftspeople – after the imposition of rationing during the Second World War they had resorted to making new costumes out of paper.
Just a few more pages left to colour until the main event of the day: Santa arrives!