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Photos: Santa Parade has special meaning for Sudbury family

Couple who got engaged at 2012 parade invited to ride on Santa’s float this year with their two young kids in tow

The Greater Sudbury Santa Claus Parade is a particularly special event for Melanie and Sean McDonald.

Knowing how much Melanie had always loved the parade (she describes herself as something of a “Christmas fairy”), Sean decided it was the perfect occasion to ask her to become his wife at the 2012 edition of the parade.

Melanie recounts how Sean, who she had then been dating for around 18 months, disappeared to “go to the bathroom” just before the end of the parade, but reappeared a few minutes later, riding on Santa’s float and carrying a sign that said “Will you marry me?” 

The whole thing had been arranged because her sister was an employee of a company that was sponsoring Santa’s float that year.

Sean jumped off the float, and unfortunately dropped the ring on the road, but never lost sight of it, and picked it back up. He then proposed, and Melanie accepted, much to the delight of the crowd. 

It was “one of the most magical moments of my life,” said Melanie. She and Sean went on to marry in 2014.

Northern Life, Sudbury.com’s now-defunct predecessor publication, ran a front-page story about their engagement, and Melanie asked us to do an update story.

You can watch a video about the couple’s proposal that they uploaded to YouTube back in 2012 below:

Fast forward a decade, and Melanie and Sean are now married with two kids, Parker, 7, and Matteo, 4.

To celebrate the Nov. 17, 2012 anniversary of their engagement, the McDonald family did something extra special over the weekend.

After reaching out to the Greater Sudbury Santa Claus Parade organizers, the whole family was invited to ride on Santa’s float during the annual parade this past Saturday.

Before the parade, they met with Santa and took some pictures, and then they boarded the float, with the little boys having been given penguin costumes to wear.

Not only was it a special moment because of the memories associated with the couple’s engagement, little Matteo had never before been to the parade, which returned this year for the first time since 2019 after being on hiatus due to COVID.

“Another parade memory we will cherish forever!” Melanie said in an email to Sudbury.com. “We’d like to thank the parade committee for this opportunity! The Greater Sudbury Santa Claus Parade will always have a special place in our hearts!”

Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.