Organizers of Sunday's Santa Claus Parade in Toronto have appealed to Mayor Rob Ford to reconsider his decision to walk at the head of their event.
In a letter sent to the mayor's office, the parade committee writes, "Due to recent events in the mayor's life, there was a decision made that he should not walk the parade but would be a spectator watching the parade with his family."
Mr. Ford's chief of staff, Earl Provost, told reporters on Monday that Mr. Ford had his heart set on walking in the parade.
Event co-chairman Ron Barbaro said the committee is pleading with the mayor not to participate for security reasons, fearing Mr. Ford might attract protesters and media attention that could disrupt the parade. An intense spotlight has been on Mr. Ford since he admitted last week that he smoked crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor."
"We are asking because of the safety issue and because of the scrum that would follow him," Mr. Barbaro said. "We want Santa to be the star."
Mr. Barbaro said it would be "a distraction" if the mayor were to march in the parade. "We don't think it's the right time," he said.
In past years, the mayor handed out candy canes along the parade route, which begins at Christie Pits and ends at St. Lawrence Market.
THE PARADE COMMITTEE'S LETTER
Full text of the parade committee's letter sent to Mr. Ford's chief of staff, Earl Provost:
Because of yesterday's on-again, off-again dialogue, I am sending you the official position of the board of the Santa Claus Parade to present to the mayor please.
The parade is held on the streets of the city of Toronto and the city is very helpful in organizing the parade. While the mayor has no official capacity in the parade, as mayor, he has every right to walk ahead of the parade.
Due to recent events in the mayor's life, there was a decision made that he should not walk the parade but would be a spectator watching the parade with his family.
However, last night the mayor announced that he had changed his mind and that he will now walk ahead of the parade. We are appealing to the mayor, as a parent, to reconsider this decision. We are asking him to go back to the original decision.
The Santa Claus Parade is presented for children and families and the single focus is the magic of Santa and Mrs. Claus arriving to usher in the Holiday Season.
With the media following the mayor in everything he does, we do not want this distraction to take away from the anticipated fun and enjoyment that children will have on parade day.
Our request is simple. We know the mayor loves a parade but, for this year, let's avoid the distraction and put the focus back on Santa and Mrs. Claus.