Send in the clown

Local dedicated to parade


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Carole Penhale will be a celebrity clown again in the Toronto Santa Claus Parade

It’s the early ’60s, and the Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade is making its way through town. A young Carol Penhale is mesmerized and mystified by the clowns walking by on their hands. She’s warm and cozy in the red and white snowsuit that her mother made from scratch, and she waits on her father’s shoulders for Santa Claus to make his way to town. 

All these years later, and now a Bedford Park resident, Penhale will support this year’s parade on Nov. 17 by donating $1,200 to become a celebrity clown. She will walk along the 5.7 kilometre parade route, greeting thousands of kids and their families as she has for the past seven years.

The celebrity clowns initiative was an effort put into place to raise funds for the parade after the now bankrupt retailer Eaton’s dropped its support of the parade in the early ’80s. For Penhale, however, the experience is one of a kind, and the exhilaration on parade day is hard to top.

“We’re very happy. It’s the best day of the year,” she said. “People are lined along the parade route and they’re six-, eight-, 10-, 20-people deep in some places, and they’re very happy to see you.”

In previous years as a clown, she’d be up from around 6 a.m. to take part in events such as visiting children at the hospital who can’t make it out to the parade and handing out candy to children and breakfast to the needy at Yonge-Dundas Square. The clowns will perform in a handful of charitable events before this year’s parade as well.

Her reasons for being a clown year after year may have something to do with the atmosphere, being surrounded by people out there filled with goodwill. 

“It’s quite a giving community in amongst the clowns. Everyone is happy to be there,” said Penhale. “It’s a tremendous environment.”

 

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