The Help Santa Toy Parade marked its 53rd year in November as volunteers marched through downtown Ottawa raising money for the Salvation Army’s Toy Mountain.

This marked the first time since 2019 the parade was fully on display without COVID-19 public health restrictions.

Organizers raised more than $30,000 in 2021 with a toned-down parade and aimed to bring in more donations this year. Help Santa Toy Parade chair, Cameron Taylor, said the parade entered the digital age this year with brand new tap stations for cashless donations along the parade route.

Taylor added the parade was particularly important this year as Canadians struggle with cost of living increases.

“COVID has had its effect on everybody, I think. I think everything’s more expensive than ever. And people are struggling a little bit now with all kinds of things,” he said. “On top of every year, we do see our need, in general … go up every year.”

A lone conductor walks in front of city hall before the Help Santa Toy Parade on Nov. 19. The parade, organized by the Ottawa Professional Firefighters Association (IAFF Local 162), flowed from City Hall down Bank Street to Lansdowne’s TD Place over the course of several hours. [Photo © Isabel Harder]
Steve Guerin, a member of the Ottawa Fire Department Band, was dressed for the weather at the parade starting point near Ottawa City Hall and Confederation Park. [Photo © Isabel Harder]
Firefighters-in-training were fully equipped in front of the Collège La Cité float. [Photo © Isabel Harder]
A firefighter talks to the crowd gathered along the parade route. [Photo © Isabel Harder]
Volunteers advertise new tap stations along the parade route. Tap donations collected at the parade totalled more than $9,000. [Photo © Isabel Harder]
Alexander Fysh and his daughter Stella “tap the boot” to donate $10 to the Toy Mountain campaign. This is the first year cashless donations were accepted on-site during the parade, a choice organizer Cameron Taylor said brought fundraising efforts into the digital age. [Photo © Isabel Harder]
Ravens’ Rhythm, Carleton University’s cheer squad, brought some holiday pep to the parade. [Photo © Isabel Harder]
Ottawa Caledonian Pipes and Drums march in the Help Santa Toy Parade in the downtown core. [Photo © Isabel Harder]
A family greets a dog walking in the parade. [Photo © Isabel Harder]
Santa wasn’t the only celebrity in attendance. New Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe waves to the crowd as the City of Ottawa float makes its way to Lansdowne TD Place. [Photo © Isabel Harder]
Volunteers towed a “giant toy car” behind the parade to collect donations of toys for Toy Mountain. New, unwrapped toys were also accepted along the parade route and continue to be accepted at all fire stations at any time. A full list of fire station locations is available on the City of Ottawa website. Rural fire stations will only accept donations on specific nights. [Photo © Isabel Harder]
The star of the parade, Santa Claus, waves to children and reminds them to be good this year. [Photo © Isabel Harder]