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Holiday Parade lights up Main Street and children's smiles in Tilton

Fireworks and snow marked the end of Tiltonís Holiday Parade. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
December 09, 2009
TILTON — Tilton's second annual Holiday Parade was full of beauty and cheer as the lighted floats made their way along Main Street Saturday evening.

Just in time to bring a real holiday touch, snow fell at a steady pace and bundled up children danced on the sidewalks amidst the flakes as the parade passed by.

Leading the way was Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier, who brought the idea of a Holiday Parade with him when he joined the Tilton department. Cormier approached the Tilton Main Street Program about the Plymouth tradition and the group loved the idea.

"The chief came to us with the idea for a holiday parade and he's been a huge proponent of it. The commercial community in the area and the Rotary have been very supportive of the parade, too," said Sarah Paratore of Tilton Main Street.

Last year Paratore wasn't sure if they would even see 20 people along the route and said she was quite surprised when she began counting the number of people who had come out to watch.

"I started counting and stopped at 350. I was stunned," she said.

People in town said they enjoyed the idea of a parade in December and lined the streets once again this year. The Ruggles of Tilton had all five of their children bundled up for the snow and came down to get into the holiday spirit.

"It's a perfect little tradition," said dad Scott Ruggles.

Some families even came from other towns to join in on the fun. Barbara Wilson brought her grandchildren Danyelle Fay and Jeydon Wilson all the way up from Concord just for the event.

"I read about it in the paper and it sounded like a really good idea, so we came to watch. This is Jeydon's first Christmas parade. It's great," said Barbara Wilson.

Chief Cormier lead the parade with blue lights blazing, calling out holiday cheer and wishes from his loudspeaker to all who lined the street. Following him were Miss Lakes Region Erica Millette, Tilton selectmen riding along with a lit up Christmas tree, school children, the Tilton Prep mascot, local fire departments, many local businesses with lighted floats, area Scout groups and many others. Even Santa and friends were part of the lineup, having been invited by the Rotary Club. Santa took time to light the downtown holiday tree as he passed by on his float.

Paige Shea of Tilton thought the snow that fell added the perfect touch to the evening.

"I'm really happy it's snowing," she said as she watched the parade pass by. Everyone seemed to agree that it certainly brought that old time Christmas feeling back to Main Street in Tilton.

A warming tent was set up in Riverside Park where people enjoyed coffee and hot chocolate along with other treats from the Tilton School, Starbucks and Panera Bread after the parade. A fireworks display then lit up the night as snow began to accumulate. Spectators watched from the pavilion and along the waterfront, oohing and ahhing over the colorful wintry sky. Cormier mingled with the crowd and was very happy to see so many out enjoying the event.

"It's been a tough year. It's good to see the kids all excited. This is just a great way to cheer everyone up and get people in the spirit," he said.

Paratore shared his sentiments and hoped to see the tradition grow every year. Sponsorships from Franklin Savings Bank and other businesses made the fireworks possible, she said, and right up until the last moment people were joining the parade. The participation she saw gave her a good feeling.

"It's something that's really pulling the community together. People are looking for a way to cheer up and this has been a terrific idea. We hope it'll grow and be as big as the parade in Plymouth soon," Paratore said.

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