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Santa’s visits keep the holiday spirit strong in Midland (12 photos)

Streets were bustling with Christmas celebrants even when town's population closer to 3,000

“Santa Claus is coming to town” as the song goes, and thanks in part to the Tinney Family and the local Civitan Club, Santa Claus has been coming for the Midland Santa Claus Parade regularly for more than 40 years.

One of Santa’s local elves, Mike Tinney, says he has invited (read: played) Santa every year for about 20 years or more.

Tinney is so filled with Christmas cheer that the years don’t matter, only the same message that Santa brings every year: “Merry Christmas.”

“Santa rolls with the punches pretty good,” says Tinney about making sure that the jolly old elf can safely bring happy tidings to local children and adults alike despite the ongoing constraints of the pandemic.

Last year’s parade was the first “reverse parade,” as Tinney, the other elves and volunteers from the Civitan Club called the drive-by parade at Little Lake Park.

“It turned out to be a really good success,” he says.

Unfortunately, time ran out and many people missed last year’s parade. That was a learning experience because the local elves had never put on a parade that didn’t move before.

“We learned that it was better to take a few floats past a lot of people, instead of a few people past a lot of floats,” Tinney explains.

“This year with the walk-through, everything was against us. The weather was terrible.”

There was wet snow and high winds for the walk-by Santa parade this year on December 4.

Nevertheless, the Christmas spirit prevailed.

“Christmas is Christmas. It’s been the same for how many hundreds of years?” he says matter-of-factly.

“There’s the spiritual or religious part, then there’s the Santa Claus part. Whether it was 40 years ago or last week, the children love to see the floats with Scrooge, the Grinch, and the train. Adults love it too.”

Tinney has helped maintain the floats, and has been involved in chairing the Santa Claus parade, and personally inviting Santa to come to town since the Civitan Club started organizing the Midland parade in 1978.

Tinney’s whole family has played a role in the parade for generations. His mother and father, his children and his grandchildren. That’s four generations of involvement from one family, and they’re not the only elves that help bring cheer to town.

The Downtown Midland BIA also makes sure the spirit is strong on the streets of town with window paintings, free parking, the Christmas tree lighting at Neezhoday Park and extended holiday shopping hours.

The town of Midland has a strong history of celebrating in fine fashion.

Even at the turn of the last century, when the population of Midland’s holiday celebrators was just over 3,000, the town’s streets were bustling with shoppers.

At least two local stores, for which we have photos, kept the holiday cheer strong with happy shopping displays for children’s toys and shoes — equally important and exciting gifts to find under the tree in those days.

Fast forward to the 1950s when the town’s population had more than doubled since its incorporation, and the baby boom that followed the Second World War meant Christmas was an event around town.

There were competitions for best decorated house, organized gift exchanges, and Santa came to town then, too. Even despite some soggy weather conditions in 1957.

Whatever the situation weather-wise or with the pandemic, it seems nothing will stop Santa from coming to this town.

“We’re not sure what the next year will bring,” says Tinney, Santa’s closest local elf, “We’re still living in an age of uncertainty.

“Hopefully, Santa will come to town to visit us for a couple of hours next year.”