By Kyle Reid | The Shoreline
Abbie Dawe isn’t exactly sure how long she’s been attending the Conception Bay South Santa Clause Parade, but she swears she hasn’t missed one for as long as the Kiwanis Club of Kelligrews has organized the Christmas march.
For those keeping track, Saturday’s parade marked 62 years of the holiday celebration in CBS.
And while at 91-years-old Dawe understandably finds it a bit more difficult to make it out now, she certainly wasn’t going to miss this year’s parade.
“It’s to carry on an old tradition,” said Dawe, matter-of-factly, when asked why she goes through the trouble.
For the Foxtrap native, who currently resides at the Meadow Creek Retirement Centre in Paradise, the parade represents some six decades of Christmas memories — from Christmastime dances in her youth, to raising a family of seven children, who at a young age were bundled up and parked near the mouth of Cherry Lane to watch the parade floats pass by every holiday season.
“We took our children there when they were old enough, and now that they are gone their different ways, I go myself or somebody takes me,” said Dawe.
The parade has always been a real family affair for Dawe. Even after her children grew up, she would continue to go to the parade with her late husband, Eric Dawe, who was always at her side until he passed away six years ago at the age of 86. The family was such a fixture on the parade route throughout the years that Santa Clause would often pass by and wish them a Merry Christmas, shouting, “How’s the Dawe family?”
It delighted her children and her grandchildren to know the family was so close to Old St. Nick.
Naturally, the Dawe family became quite involved in the parade throughout the years. Dawe’s late husband drove a linesman truck for CN, and the family would decorate the truck’s bucket and enter it as a float in the parade, with one or more of their children sporting a handmade costume inside the bucket. For a number of years, Dawe would sew clown suits for her then teenaged children to dress up and join the march. At that time, the parade began at Octogan Pond and would extend all the way to the trade school in Seal Cove, Dawe recalled.
And while it was always a pleasure to see her children in the parade, the memory most near to Dawe’s heart was watching the Society of United Fisherman’s brass band march in the parade.
“Those who originally played in the band were very near and dear to me, and now they’re gone,” said Dawe, fighting back tears.
It’s those memories that continue to motivate her go to the parade at 91-years-old. Her enthusiasm and passion for the parade was evident from the road last Saturday, when Coreen Bennett, the Chamberlains Girl Guides District Commissioner, spotted her and stopped by for a quick hug.
It meant the world to Dawe, who is a former Girl Guide and Guiding volunteer. She joined the group as a child when they first came to Newfoundland in the 1930s.
“It meant a lot, (that Bennett) still remembered me,” said Dawe.
Moments like those have shaped Dawe’s warm, fond memories of the parade. It’s her entire reason for going.
“It’s just the memories, mostly,” said Dawe. “All the memories…I’ve always enjoyed the parade.”