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Annual holiday parade brings Lakes Region together

Three-year-old Jacoby of Gilford and his buddy AJ of Gilmanton were all smiles over the candy canes they received at the Holiday Parade in Laconia last weekend as they awaited Santa’s arrival. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
November 30, 2011
LACONIA — Unseasonably warm temperatures in the Lakes Region might have brought a bead of sweat to Santa's brow during this year's Holiday Parade, but the big guy and his float motored on just the same, waving to the cheering crowds who reveled in the mild weather until he reached the tree in Veteran's Square, which he lit with his traditional magic wave.

Hundreds of people from throughout the region lined the streets as the nearly hour-long parade wound its way from Wyatt Park into downtown Laconia.

Leading the way this year were renowned artist and magician Larry Frates and his Snow Shovel Brigade. Aptly twirling their shovels and ice scrapers, the group danced their way along the streets of Laconia as the brigade, made up of members from all around the region, dug their way into everyone's hearts as a crowd favorite.

Shortly behind the brigade were the dancers of Frates' Creative Arts Studio, who also melted hearts with their snowflake dancing routines, choreographed to traditional tunes like "Let It Snow" and "Winter Wonderland."

Belmont High School's marching band helped set the tone of the upcoming season, decked out in Santa hats as they performed some familiar holiday music. Gilford High School's blue and yellow outfitted band members provided extra musicality and color to the parade as they unfurled their school flags and marched to the beat of their favorite holiday tunes as well.

Numerous local businesses were not to be outdone. Decked out in green, Franklin Savings Bank employees marched along the route, handing out candy to children who lined the streets. Laconia Savings Bank presented an attractive blue and white snowman float with holiday music, celebrating the 180th anniversary of the landmark business. The float from MetroCast of Belmont passed out blue rocket toys and certificates for free movies through their cable network, while Rusty's Towing of Tilton was decked out in candy canes and Christmas stockings as they wished everyone a happy holiday season.

Kathy and Dave Salanitro of Gilford walked their festively adorned oxen through town and numerous "holiday hounds," wearing antlers, hats, scarves and other seasonal doggie attire, paraded the streets along with Girl Scout and Brownie troops. Thurston's Marine even towed a Christmas boat through town.

Seven-year-old cousins Cameron and Devin said they enjoyed the Grinch and characters from "Whoville," as portrayed in the contingency from Galleria Salon and Day Spa of Laconia.

"They were dressed up just like the movie. It was cool. I really liked seeing the Grinch," said Devin.

While Cameron said he thought the entire parade was terrific, he, Devin and younger cousin Nicholas also said the candy was a big bonus to the day's fun. Not to mention seeing Santa.

The Grinch was soon outdone, however, as Santa himself made his much anticipated appearance on a float full of decorated evergreens, accompanied, as always, by members of the Laconia and Gilford fire departments.

The Holiday Parade was followed on Sunday by an opportunity for families to enjoy a special train ride with Santa for the admission price of one unwrapped toy to benefit the WLNH 98.3 FM Children's Auction.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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