Light Up Grand Bend

Join us for Light Up Grand Bend at Optimist Park 5:30 pm, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019

Main St. E. at Gill Rd., Grand Bend


Join us for Light Up Grand Bend
Optimist Park 5:30 pm, Friday, Nov. 15.
Choir & Carols – Jamie Baldwin, the Skateboarding Fiddler
Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides – Hot Chocolate & Cider – Santa

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Santa’s Saga 2019

by Judy Johnson
photos: Janette Baillie

After my success at tracking down Santa on the Main Beach at Grand Bend during his 2018 summer vacation, I searched the area in vain for weeks in July and August this year, looking for the world’s best-known Superhero, the epitome of the seasonal worker, Santa Claus himself.

I was enjoying an early fall morning stroll on River Road – getting some exercise while enjoying my morning coffee when I spied the Claus man at the entrance to the marina. Needless to say I could hardly believe my eyes!

There he was! Dressed in shorts and a bright Hawaiian shirt decorated in a design with selfies of the great man. He was standing before an easel, having almost finished a large painting of the river and Lake with the lighthouse and pier.

Everything Santa does is larger than life, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that instead of the usual small palette and brushes, he was using quart and gallon paint tins and large brushes to produce his masterpieces. He worked with great patience, stopping frequently for a sip of milk and a chocolate chip cookie. Apparently they were his muses.

I took a chance and walked right up to him; I introduced myself, although he has known me for decades, since I was a wee girl with a Christmas list that always included a pony. News alert: no pony ever arrived!

He was gracious in answering my blurted-out question about what he was doing painting of all things. Was this a new hobby or something he had been doing for years? He explained that he studied with some of the great European artists – he liked how Rembrandt used light, how Van Gogh used vivid colours, how Monet captured subtle shades of water. It made my head spin, until I realized that of course Mr. Claus had been around for centuries and would have had unimaginable access to the giants of canvas, paint and brush.

Explaining that art has always been incredibly important as a source of centering and recharging in his life, he said he simply parks the sleigh for the whole month of September for some R & R. This year he gifted Mrs. Claus a month-long luxury cruise in Northern Europe; it was a bit of a busman’s holiday since she was going to check out some young reindeer in the northern reaches of Finland. He blew Rudolph’s nose that got redder by the minute when the star sleigh leader learned his master would be out of sight for thirty days – then Santa headed due south to his favourite vacation spot, Grand Bend.

Apparently he has no intention of having an exhibition of his work; the explanation I was given that he feels people would be so anxious to get one of his originals that there could be too much excitement and large, curious crowds. He felt that his hobby would get more attention than his important life’s work of bringing the magic of the holiday season to children of all ages far and wide.

He savoured his last cookie, took a last sip of milk and packed up his painting paraphernalia, loading it carefully into a shiny, bright red pickup. “Love the 420 horsepower on this machine – a far cry from travelling with 9 reindeer. Plus those critters make more annoying comments than a GPS with voice commands when you make a few wrong turns!” Then he winked.

That last comment made me realize just how much the Claus needed this long vacation to rest and rejuvenate for the frantically-busy holiday season looming on the calendar’s horizon.

And just like that, he roared out of sight.

We know that Santa Claus will be back in Grand Bend at Light Up Grand Bend at 5 p.m., Friday, November 15, 2019 at the Optimist Park (Main St. East & Gill Road).

Come check out the fabulous holiday lights, hot chocolate and cider, Jamie Baldwin – the Skateboarding Fiddler, horse-drawn wagon rides and seasonal good cheer! And take a good look at Santa’s waistline – I thought it looked as if he had lost a couple of pounds in that summer photo!

UPDATE: Santa emailed me once he got back to the North Pole to let me know how much he enjoyed the sunny days, the beach and painting scenes of the harbour. His wife was ecstatic to see him and brought him a Finnish souvenir of Sauna Bucket & Ladle, an ideal gift since over 40% of Finns own a sauna. He plans to frame one of his paintings and surprise Mrs. Claus with it on Christmas Eve, just before he climbs into the sleigh, after giving a pep-talk to the reindeer, calming down Rudolph so he doesn’t get super-hyper, overshoots Planet Earth and gets lost in the Milky Way.

Something tells me Santa will be this way again next summer or fall. It’s top of his vacation list!

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Santa’s Saga 2018

by Judy Johnson
photos: Janette Baillie

We all know Santa makes a list and checks it twice…the naughty & nice bits about the Claus clauses in the unwritten Christmas contract for children of all ages.

And I’m sure that Santa has a really good calendar system for making sure that he can do everything he and the elves are supposed to throughout the entire holiday season.

But since he’s the epitome of a seasonal worker (albeit a super-special seasonal worker), when I’m waiting for my cell phone to start or my computer to boot, or for traffic to start moving on the 401 around Toronto, it has crossed my mind to wonder what the big fellow is up to off-season. How does he unwind and relax?

Santa relaxing of Grand Bend beachNever knew until very recently that one of his favourite spots to laze and love time in the sand and sun is Grand Bend! I, Judy Johnson, do hereby attest that there Santa Claus was in August, on the main beach soaking up the rays when local photographer Janette Baillie snapped a picture of him “parking” himself on a lawn chair. She reports that Santa was sipping ice-cold milk and savouring one of his favourite treats, both off-season and high-season – chocolate chip cookies!

No sign of Mrs. Claus however. Was she on the Strip? Maybe buying a bikini, a BeaverTail, sampling Kombucha or an artisan craft beer, or having high tea on a shady porch?

Were things icy between the Claus and the Ms? Had she and Santa had a snowball spat and needed time out on their own for some R & R? Was Rudolph’s nose out-of-joint and getting redder by the day soaking up tears of loneliness at being abandoned by his master? Maybe he had wanted to go parasailing instead of reindeer-flying and Santa nixed the notion?

Whatever the reason – a picture is worth a thousand words! Of all the places in the world that he could choose, Santa opted for Grand Bend to spend some peaceful hours before ramping up for the pre-holiday rush.

If you didn’t catch him this time, we have it on very good authority that Santa Claus will be “artfully parking” his transportation at the Optimist Park in Grand Bend.

Jamie Baldwin at Light Up Grand Bend

Come check out the lights, the hot chocolate and cider, Jamie Baldwin – the Skateboarding Fiddler, caroling choir, horse-drawn wagon rides and seasonal good cheer! Oh, and Santa’s waistline…doesn’t it look to you as if he has lost a little weight in that summer photo!

UPDATE: Somehow Santa got wind of this saga and emailed me to let me know everything between him love Mrs. Claus is absolutely honeymoon-like! It turns out that while he was on the Beach, she was checking out all the great shops in Grand Bend, buying gifts for the elves…things they couldn’t produce in the workshop! I still think she might be going to surprise Santa with a GB bikini…which could be both “naughty and nice!”.

photos: Janette Baillie