Toronto was ringing with the sounds and sights of holiday cheer Sunday as the 108th Santa Claus Parade wound its way through the city’s downtown.

Onlookers lined up as early as 6:30 a.m. to get a prime spot as thousands crowded the sidewalks of the parade route.

One family, decked out in green “Grinch” toques, shared their trick to scoring curb-side seats for the event.

“My husband gets up at eight o’clock and comes down with chairs and all the blankets and we happen to roll in at about 10:30,” said one woman.

“When I get up in the morning, there are a lot of cold feet on my back, pushing me out of bed,” explained the husband, smiling begrudgingly. “That’s Mrs. Grinch.”

More than 200 clowns kicked off the parade that included 25 animated floats and more than 2,000 participants donning colourful costumes. Twenty marching bands took part, adding some holiday sounds to the event.

Two young participants explained to CTV Toronto why they had decided to march in the parade.

“It’s the best thing in the world,” they said. “We get to spread joy.”

Parade formation began at 6:30 a.m. before kicking off at 12:30 p.m. near Christie Pits Park. The parade headed east to University Avenue before turning south towards Queen’s Park then east on Wellington Street.

Some new floats joined the roster this year, including a decorative polar-bear themed float sponsored by popular boy-band “One Direction.” The five-member band was also listed as sponsors of the annual event.

Sports were also highlighted at this year’s event with Toronto Blue Jays mascot Ace making an appearance. A brand new float honouring the Grey Cup’s 100th anniversary was also added. Former head coach and current vice-chair of the Toronto Argonauts, Michael “Pinball” Clemons, waved to the crowds from the celebratory float.

Clemons said he was looking forward to watching the match next Sunday in Toronto.

“The 100th year happening next Sunday, unbelievable,” he said.

Later Sunday, the Argos beat the Montreal Alouettes 27-20, winning a spot in the Grey Cup.

Even Mayor Rob Ford got involved, greeting onlookers and handing out candy canes. Ford carried the treats in a reusable black canvas bag.

The official Santa Claus Twitter account tweeted throughout the day, sharing some mobile updates.

“The weather is cooperating. The Elves are putting on the finishing touches. Mr & Mrs. Claus are very excited to see everyone at the parade,” read one tweet before the parade began.

New technology was also featured this year with the addition of a Santa tracking app available for iPhone users. Canada Post employees also took part, collecting letters to Santa along the parade route.

The big event wrapped up as Santa Claus brought up the rear with a colourful reindeer float, officially launching the countdown to Christmas.

A resplendent Santa greeted the crowds from atop his sleigh.

“Are you having a good parade day?” he called out to the beaming crowds.

The parade ended at St. Lawrence Market at the bottom of Church Street around 2:30p.m.

Toronto’s Santa Claus parade is the longest running children’s Parade in the world and is broadcast internationally in New Zealand, Norway and Ireland.