The Annual Christmas Parade Gets a Facelift in Helsinki

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Santa Claus waving at the Senate Square during the annual Christmas Parade in Helsinki, Finland on November 22 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Just when you thought you’ve seen all there is to see in relating to the annual Christmas parade (67th) in Helsinki, the City decides to step up the game.

For the children, the believers of Santa, it’s certainly a spectacle even to see a glimpse of the old white-bearded man weaving his red mitten on the snowless Aleksanterinkatu on a Sunday afternoon in November, but a grown man like me needs an extra kick to get the juices flowing.

That’s where the Finnish National Ballet came in. For the first time, a group of beautiful creatures in white tights danced on the back of a low truck waving their magic wands. In the light of cold blue they were limber and cheerful, elegant with their allegros, allongés and arabesques . . .

The parade was filled with angles, elves, dogs, old fire trucks and many mystical creatures I’ve seen in fairy tales but now forgotten.

Santa took his usual ride surrounded by thousands of people cheering in Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Swedish . . . and, yes, Finnish. His sleigh was being “pulled” by a huge Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and a tractor. The police cars made sure that the path was and stayed clear.

An amazing rhythm orchestra WeDrumAsOne from the Rhythm Music School Tauko played march rhythms in the spirit of Steve Gadd and the James Brown drummer Clyde Stubblefield. The drummers, boys and girls, must have only been in their early teens.

And then there was the great and unique display of Christmas lights at the Esplanade Park. The park was illuminated with lights in the shape of reindeer horns. In the middle of the park stood actual illuminated reindeer in golden colours made of twigs.

Even as the Aleksanterinkatu Christmas Street is one of the oldest Christmas traditions in the country, it was rejuvenating to see such an innovative, classy and atmospheric approach to the parade this year.

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Santa Claus and Jussi Pajunen, the mayor of Helsinki, switching on the Christmas lights at Aleksanterinkatu. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

 

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Little angels ready to start strolling. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

 

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The parade was joined by mystical creatures. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

 

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The performance of the dancers in the Finnish National Ballet was a delightful addition. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

 

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A reindeer in the middle of the Esplanade amazes the small spectators. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

 

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The Northern Esplanade decorated in festive Christmas lights. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today