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A holly, jolly good time at annual Holiday Parade



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Charles, one of Santa’s favorite helpers from Lakes Region Riding Academy, was in high spirits for the Holiday Parade, despite the job he was assigned to keep the streets clear for Santa and his float. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
December 01, 2010
LACONIA — Under clear blue skies, with crisp temperatures brightening the cheeks of eager boys and girls, the annual Laconia Holiday Parade showcased the talents of the Lakes Region, from dancers and high school bands to the decorated floats and marching troupes of Scouts, schools and civic and outdoor recreational organizations from local communities.

Grand Marshall this year was Ed Darling, known for his efforts in aiding the WLNH Children' Auction.

Before the main event got underway, folks in Veteran's Square were entertained by the sounds of the Music Clinic in Belmont. Local organizations milled through the crowds passing out candy and goodies to children while they waited for Santa to arrive and perform his ritual of lighting the tree outside the historic train station.

Jesse Smith of the Evangelical Baptist Church was one of the many people busy keeping everyone happy as the crowds swelled.

"We do this every year. It helps people warm up and keeps their spirits up while they wait," said Smith.

Bundled up on the sidewalk with warm hats and a cozy blanket, 7-year-old Savannah and her 4-year-old sister Addison were bright-eyed as they peered down Main Street, anxious to see Santa for the first time this year. Beside them Delaney and her older brother Carson from Meredith were dancing in place as they awaited, too, the Big Guy, but Delaney was excited for other sites and sounds of the parade as well.

"I want to see the drums," she said with a grin.

It wasn't long before the Belmont High School Marching Band granted her wish as they made their way along the parade route. The troupe from Frates Creative Arts followed in line, dancing to "A Holly, Jolly Christmas" as they blew kisses to the crowd and entertained everyone lined up four and five deep along the sidewalks. Floats and antique cars as well as other performances from Broadway North in Belmont kept everyone entertained throughout the hour-long event.

There were plenty of four-legged participants as well. Dogs in holiday jackets and hats, horses from the Lakes Region Riding Academy and even a pair of oxen, bedecked in red and gold all marched through the streets bringing smiles to the families who looked on.

At long last, Laconia High School's marching band and fire engines from Laconia and Gilford could be heard in the distance, signaling to all that Santa was near. When he and Mrs. Claus arrived in the square they were joined by Grand Marshall Darling. Santa then led everyone in a countdown before he waved his wand and magically lit up the giant spruce tree to signify the start of the holiday season.

Four-year-old Alex of Gilford was especially glad to have Santa finally arrive in the Square. He had been anxiously awaiting a chance to meet him on the Santa Fund train ride.

"I just want to see Santa. I brought a toy for the train ride," he said with a big grin, waving a "Defenders" action figure.

Unwrapped gifts, along with monetary donations from adults, were accepted as tickets to ride in the classic coach cars with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Hot chocolate and cookies warmed everyone up as the train chugged its way to Lakeport and back, full of Christmas songs and cheer.

Proceeds from the afternoon benefited the Citizen's Santa Fund for underprivileged boys and girls in the Lakes Region.

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