Rushed parking job turns into annual Christmas tradition in Saint John, N.B.
For many Saint John, N.B. residents, the sight of a Volkswagen Beetle in front of an old-school barbershop on the city’s west side has become a sure sign that the holidays have arrived.
It started 10 years ago, when Bob Keays parked his 1970s era classic car at the Lancaster Barbershop on Main Street West as he went to go and referee a hockey game.
“We had a game going on, and one of the referees cancelled out,” says Keays. “So, I was supposed to be in the west side Christmas parade and I said to Blaine, ‘Blaine, I’m so sorry but let me tell you what, I’d love to park my car outside your shop.’”
Little did he know that decision was the beginning of what would become a time-honoured holiday tradition in Saint John.
“It’s not until I came back from the Santa Claus parade that I saw people sitting on the bumper... and taking pictures from across the street,” says Blaine Harris, owner of the Lancaster Barbershop.
Ever since, the picturesque scene of a Christmas tree tied to the top of the Beetle and the old-school barbershop in the background, has become a beloved and iconic sign of the holiday season.
“It’s almost like when we park the Beetle here, it’s the start of Christmas in Saint John,” says Keays.
The scene has inspired not only photographers but also painters from the region, and for many, stirs up a sense of nostalgia.
“It’s reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell picture,” says Harris. “And that’s sort of what draws people to it. It’s the look of both the properties as well as the car and they’re both from that era.”
The car itself, which is named Jude after the famous Beatles’ song, has also become something of a celebrity in Saint John – making appearances at many different events over the years.
“When I’m driving you have people that are beeping their horns and it makes them feel really good,” says Keays.