App-etite: The Santa Claus Parade gets smart

The parade organizers have developed an app that shows St. Nick's progress, and gives users a chance to jingle along.

The Santa Claus Parade is 106 years old, but it’s keeping up with the times. This year, the parade will have a smartphone app, which was developed for free by volunteer committee-member Dashboard Communications.

The app has two features, one that turns your phone into a pair of bells and another that tracks St. Nick’s progress along the parade route on Nov. 21.

Last year, the parade launched a Facebook page, and this year they’re asking parade-watchers to use an event-specific Twitter hashtag, #TOSanta.

MiC caught up with Laurie Laykish, volunteer board director, Santa Claus Parade, to find out more about the app.

Tell us about your app: what does it do and why did you develop it?

We recognize that people who go to the parade are taking their smartphones, so we wanted to create something that would enhance their experience using technology during the parade. Dashboard Communications came up with the idea for the two components of the app. One would be the jingle bells, so when you shake your phone the bells go, so when Santa goes by, you can jingle away, so it’s actual engagement with the parade real-time. We also know a big thing along the parade route is wondering when Santa’s going to get there, so that’s where the Santa Tracker comes in, so parents can calm their kids down and create the anticipation.

How will this app be promoted to consumers?

It’s up on the website, where the traffic picks up now until the parade. It’s on our Facebook page, we’ll be tweeting about it, and then our media partners – the Toronto Star, CP24 and CTV – are all really excited about the app, so we’ll have it out a number of ways.

What’s the point of the app?

It’s awareness and engagement. For the parade, it’s also bringing the parade digital. We’re 106 years old, and when it started, the only way you could see the parade was to go to it. Then there was TV, and now there’s online and the digital world, so it’s about keeping the parade current with technology.

Will this app continue to be developed going forward? In what ways?

This is the first time, but we intend to continue to grow in the digital space. In the future we’re going to look to our sponsors and see how we can integrate sponsors into various applications; what is it our sponsors are looking for and how can we work with them to increase their engagement with the parade? Some sponsors expressed interest this year, but the app was just too last minute.

The app is free, and is available for the iPhone and iPad. More information about the parade can be found at