Santa Claus parades or Christmas pageants are parades held in some countries to celebrate the official opening of the Christmas season with the arrival of Santa Claus. The parades usually include themed floats, dancing or marching groups and bands playing Christmas songs. They are moving pageants that typically end near the center of a city. Often sponsored by department stores, they may reinforce the store's brand recognition during the important Christmas shopping season.
It is a direct descendant of late Medieval and Renaissance revivals of Roman Triumphs, which had music and banners, wagons filled with the spoils of war, and climaxed with the dux riding in a chariot, preferably drawn by two horses, and thus called the biga. (A quadriga such as surmounts the Brandenburg Gate is drawn by four horses.) Similarly, the climax of a Santa Claus parade is always Santa in his sleigh, drawn by eight reindeer (an octigia). Roman Triumphs were themselves consciously modeled on ceremonies honoring the gods, and Santa Claus himself is the descendant of Saint Nicholas. The Santa Claus parade directly corresponds to the modern triumphal entry of Santa Claus.
In Vancouver, the Rogers' Santa Claus Parade has also grown to be one of the largest, with 65 floats and bands. A special train also comes around in the parade, collecting donations for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. In 2005, the parade collected over 4,300 kg of food and 2,300 toy donations.