By Anastasia Kolesnikova '18
Suddenly, all hell broke loose. I saw in front of me a barricade of people. The street seemed a chaotic army of ants around a piece of cake, bustling, moving, and agitated. Children were crying and laughing, adults were talking, and I was just trying to push through to get my sister and myself to the shop in (hopefully) one piece. Why all this agitation? The weather wasn’t great, and where did all the people come from? The question stuck with me as I was conducted by my sister into the shop, and then up to the stationery department. It wasn’t until she was paying for her purchase that I heard it.
The roar was deafening. My poor head, which had been suffering a headache since the early morning, whined in protest. I wasn’t ready to face the streets, not with whatever was going on. It then occurred to me, as I was propelled by the crowd outside, that that was not my decision to make. People kept moving and shuffling about, and when they finally let me stand in one place, I saw what all the hustle was about:
Santa Claus had come to town.
To be precise, more than 100 Santas—complete with elves, Mary Christmases, and reindeer—grooved through the streets on Harley Davidson motorcycles. (This is the story that parents should be telling their kids before Christmas—not the ol’ “Santa is an old creepy grandfather who comes in a sleigh that his reindeer pull.”) What set these Santas apart was not only their controversial manner of transportation, but also their, as the slang goes these days, chill.
They were completely at ease, soaking up the spotlight (they should have been soaking up the sun, but it was cloudy then) and having the time of their lives.
Sleek, rough, and metallic, their bikes should not have blended as perfectly as they did with all the Christmas decorations on them.
The Biker Santas looked like Christmas tree ornaments. There were all sorts, of all shapes and sizes—some with bikes decorated, some just dressed as Santas, and some more creative ones dressed as elves or reindeer. Some Santas had passengers on their bikes, and one Santa Lady (who said Santa had to be a man?) had her dog with her, which was dressed up as a reindeer, creating an interesting effect. In a way, it does make sense: reindeer must get tired of pulling the sleigh too.
But for me, the pièce de résistance was, of course, the bikes.
Sleek, rough, and metallic, their bikes should not have blended as perfectly as they did with all the Christmas decorations on them. There were light garlands and sparkly tinsels wrapped around the handpieces, little christmas trees and reindeer all over the place, and tiny Santas on the fenders. Some even had the fenders wrapped in colourful covers so that it looked as if they were of a different colour than the motorcycle.
People all around were taking pictures, filming, clapping, hooting, smiling, and laughing, and it was unbelievable to me that this grey town, where unless the day is sunny and warm people tend to stay at home and the streets tend to be vacant—kind of like our campus when everyone leaves on holiday—had suddenly sprung to life.
Sometimes in winter, Lugano reminds me of a ghost town—the complete opposite of what the bikers had caused.
As I roamed the streets, a curious passerby and observer, I found out that the bikers were actually hosting some sort of festival in the main Piazza. They do that every year, and I remember from my previous visits downtown that sometimes, when the weather was good, they would even cook hot dogs on grills. (Good times, those.) The group posed near Manor for a photo, and it amazed me that something like a hundred people on bikes could raise the vitality of the town by 200% simply by doing what they love: biking.
Now, that day is a great counterargument if people try to tell you that bikers are inherently evil.
Photographs also taken by Kolesnikova. To see professional photographs from the Santa Claus Ride, visit wheelsandlenses.com.