A Squadron Of Santas Takes Over Venice’s Grand Canal

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

There are always amazing things to see in Venice. Recently, those sights included dozens of rowers dressed as Santa Claus and Father Christmas racing down the city’s famed Grand Canal.

While kids might have been confused by so many Santas in one place, crowds happily cheered the red-suited, white-bearded racers in an annual fancy-dress regatta.

Organized by the University Ca’ Foscari, the eighth edition of the race set off from St Mark’s Square, with champions and amateurs competing in traditional “mascarete” boats – once the domain of fishermen.

They were followed by a water parade of fellow Father Christmases in “bissone,” “caorline” and dragon boats – flat vessels with six to eight rowers each that zipped down the canal in the winter sunshine.

Since it began in 2009, the regatta has been held in the run-up to Christmas. For landlubbers, after the regatta there’s a running race through the Italian city’s alleys and squares.

 Hopefully the Santas filled up on pasta after their exertions – nobody wants a skinny Santa!

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