A teenage boy who was shot in the head at Toronto’s Eaton Centre made a special appearance at an Ontario town’s Santa Claus parade, marking a significant milestone in his recovery process.

It’s been six months since 13-year-old Connor Stevenson was caught in the crossfire in the large downtown mall. The teen was in the mall’s food court with his mother and sister on June 2 when gunshots rang out.

Two people were killed that day and five others were injured. Connor Stevenson was among the injured. He survived his wounds and has since undergone a series of surgeries.

For weeks the teen wore a helmet to protect his skull. However, on Saturday he traded in his helmet for a red-and-white Santa hat just in time for the parade in Port Hope, Ont.

Stevenson was the parade’s grand marshal. Together with his sister Taylor, he led the procession, riding in the back of a red pickup truck.

During the parade, the pair smiled and waved to the crowd of spectators who lined Port Hope’s streets.

Stevenson’s father, Craig, told CTV Toronto the entire family is thankful that the boy is safe and alive.

“How close he was to not being here… it’s a miracle,” he said.

But the teen still has a long way to go as he continues to recover.

“I still can’t do any contact sports,” he said. His last surgery was just two weeks before Saturday’s parade. The family hopes it will be his last.

“They took out my old piece of skull,” he said. “They put in a new plate in place of that. They said that would be stronger.”

His sister said this holiday season will be more meaningful than seasons past.

“We’re all going to be just a lot more thankful for our family and we really appreciate everything more than we did last time,” she said.

Craig Stevenson agreed and said the family won’t forget “just how fragile life is and how easy it can be to be taken away.”

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Ashley Rowe