Reviews / Special events

Santa photos for tots terrified of beards: A review of “Christmas at Canada Place”

There’s something a little strange about handing your baby over to a strange bearded man and blithely walking away. It makes sense that the baby –once they have the wherewithal to tell friend from foe– would be nervous, even if you stay within a few feet. On top of the terror that the man in the red suit inspires, it seems that Monita is afraid of anyone with a large, bushy beard. A month ago we took her for a stroll in the courtyard of the Central Library downtown (on our way to one of the awesome Library programs). Sitting at a cafe table was an elderly bearded man minding his own business, drinking a coffee and reading a paper. She froze in her tracks and stared.  The man noticed her wide eyes and gave a friendly “hello”. She began to slowly shake her head back and forth, gaze never leaving his face. “What, little girl? You like my beard?” he asked, starting to tug at the end of his ample facial hair. “You want to pull my beard?” She burst into screams of terror and attempted to back away into her Dad’s legs. Muttering apologises, her Dad scooped her up and walked her away. Though I’d rather she didn’t respond with an enthusiastic “yes” to any strange man who asks her to “pull his beard”, the screams were a little much. You can imagine then, what happened when we tried to take her first photo with Santa at Yaletown’s Christmas festival in late November.

Granted... this Santa does looks a little malevolent.

Granted… this Santa does looks a little malevolent.

In a last-ditch attempt to take her to a Santa-themed event, we headed to Christmas at Canada Place shortly after it opened in mid-December. There are a few things to keep in mind about this event. It’s outdoors, so rain protection is necessary. It’s also a great quick stop if you need to give the kids a break during your sojourns downtown during the busy Holiday season. It’s also by donation, so you can pay what you can to receive free hot chocolate, face-painting and crafts! All proceeds go to Strathcona Community Centre’s Food Security for Children Program.

Free hot chocolate!

A caroler in one of the Woodward windows

A caroler in one of the Woodward windows

I gratefully warmed my hands on a mug of hot chocolate while we took in the sights of Woodward’s Windows; classic animated window decorations featuring spinning bears, ladies and gentlemen in 19th century dress (think of “A Christmas Carol”), peek-a-boo mice and lots of holiday trimmings.

Monita checks out the window decorations

Monita checks out the window decorations

We also enjoyed the Christmas Trail, a set of decorated Christmas trees with decorations highlighting local businesses. The crafts on offer were a little advanced for Monita (she is only 14 months, after all) but the kids there seemed to be enjoying them. They had the option of making a sparkly snowflake with pipecleaners or making a Christmas wreath by gluing objects to a paper ring. The face-painting looked spectacular with a full-face butterfly including sparkles for the little girl who partook while we were there. We missed storytime (set in front of an outdoor “fireplace”), but there are stories daily at 3:00, 3:45, 4:45 and 5:30. Crafts and face-painting are available for free from 1 – 4pm daily.

Decorations on the "Canada Place" tree.

Decorations on the “Canada Place” tree.

Craft table for wreaths and snowflake creation

Lots of colours to choose from and a pro face-paint artist...

Lots of colours to choose from and a pro face-paint artist…

Finally, the SantaGram station made it so that we could finally get a smile next to the bearded icon of Christmas. That’s the best we can hope for this year… unless of course we win the trip to Hawaii as part of the Holiday Contest. You can post your SantaGram photos and/or vote for your favourite tree to enter. See the contest deatils on the Christmas at Canada Place site.

monita smiles with santa

Unaware that she’s next to Santa… finally, a smile!

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