Santa Can Be Happy, Mr. Walsh Screeched
by Robert Fulford
(Globe and Mail, November 21, 1955)

The designers who worked all year on the Santa Claus parade can relax and enjoy their rest this week. One of their severest critics, a young man who has just reached the age of appreciation has put his personal stamp of approval on their production.

Robbie Walsh, 3 1/2, a parade connoisseur, who lives right on the route of the annual extravaganza, screeched with joy. In fact, Mr. Walsh screeched with joy on several occasions.

When the parade had passed his house he issued his own capsule review: "It was good," he said. If his remark was not original, that may be laid to the fact that he was having trouble calming himself. Up to then Saturday morning had been rather a strain.

It began when Mr. Walsh, as member of the privileged classes—that is, the people who live on the route—graciously assumed the role of host for an intimate circle of friends, whose interest in such cultural events ran as deep as his own. He was able to provide his guests with the best of facilities—a garage roof that extends out from his veranda gives a magnificent view of Dupont St.

Promptly at 9 a.m., as the parade's advance guard of police proceeded east on Dupont, Mr. Walsh led his friends out onto this vantage point, brushed the snow off the ledge around the garage roof, saw that his guests were seated comfortably, and then settled back to enjoy the proceedings.

He looked down at the street with a sort of discreet expectancy, his glance not unlike that of a Broadway first-nighter waiting for the curtain to rise.

The first thing Mr. Walsh did was screech. This screech was directed at a large clown leading the parade. The clown carried an umbrella and gestured with it at his admirers on either side. Mr. Walsh returned the gesture.

Shortly after the clown came a float labelled Punkinhead in the Enchanted Forest, on which the riders seemed to be jumping about as fast as possible in order to keep warm. Mr. Walsh's enthusiasm for this was expressed in much the same way as his approval of the first clown, except that this time he added a little stirring around on his perch.

A little later came the Fairy Queen float, a magnificent production that carried a lovely young lady and three large rabbits.

Mr. Walsh, while not wishing to appear ungallant toward the lady, was forced to direct his attention at the tractor. It developed that he had never seen a tractor before, or at least he could not recall when he had. He requested identification of a helpful lady who sat beside him. Then he pointed it out to his guests: "Oh ... lookit the tractor....”

He glanced about to see how his guests were enjoying the entertainment, under the circumstances. One, a lady of uncertain age (her companion confided that it was about two years) had decided to disregard the entertainment in favor of examining the buttons on her companion's coat.

Turning his attention back to the entertainment, Mr. Walsh discussed an interesting aspect of the Mother Goose float with one of his guests.

"Lookit her nose lighting up!" he said. "Oooh," replied the guest.

As an assortment of rabbits, ducks, pigs, donkeys and dogs marched past, Mr. Walsh engaged in a game known as “What's that? What's that?" with the lady who sat beside him. The lady found difficulty explaining the nature of a walking cuckoo clock to Mr. Walsh and was also somewhat taken aback by his fifth request for identification of the same clown. But the game proved engrossing, nevertheless.

The Polar Playground, an elaborate tableau that Eaton's workers considered their top achievement in the parade, arrived at this point. Mr. Walsh, unfortunately, did not notice it. A clown wearing a rather large bowler hat was passing at the time and Mr. Walsh was entertaining his guests with his impression of the clown's antics, accompanied by screeches.

A moment later the Toyland Toy Factory tableau appeared and Mr. Walsh resumed the game of “What's that? What's that?” with the lady beside him. She tried her best to enter into the spirit of things.

But just then the Queen's Own Rifles band came down the street, struck up London Bridge and eight reindeer came into view. Mr. Walsh sat quite still. In fact, his lady friend remarked later that he was quieter than she had seen him in some months. He watched a moment out of very large eyes. Then he waved a small, discreet wave at the red figure on the sleigh.

A moment later Mr. Walsh led his friends back into the house for cocoa. Someone remarked that his party was going very well.

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