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Who was at the Holiday Hometown Parade? …or rather, Whos were at the Holiday Hometown Parade in downtown Plymouth Saturday evening. Who wasn’t? No. Who was, along with several Grinches and hundreds of friendly elves, marching musicians, holiday horses and the Jolly One himself, riding into town atop the shiny red Tower Truck courtesy of Plymouth Fire and Rescue. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
December 07, 2011
PLYMOUTH—Move over, Bedford Falls…It's a wonderful life—right here in Plymouth, New Hampshire.

Anyone who doubts that was not in attendance at the annual Holiday Hometown Parade on Saturday night.

After a bit of a harrowing start, occasioned by a town-wide power outage earlier in the day that threatened to put the annual tree-lighting festivities "on ice" for the night, the Holiday Hometown Parade came off without a hitch, to the delight of hundreds of area residents, friends, neighbors and visitors who gathered downtown to sing, sip hot chocolate, decorate cookies, window shop, and revel in the spirit of the season.

Fortunately, our hometown heroes from the electric company were able to save the day, restoring power just in the "Nick" of time, before dusk settled in and the festivities were scheduled to begin. A tree cutting incident on private property Saturday morning took down a 34,5000-volt transmission line owned by Public Service of New Hampshire that provides electricity to two New Hampshire Electric Co-op substations, temporarily inconveniencing 7,400 customers in the local area. But there was to be no show-stopper for the Holiday Hometown Parade.

The weather could not have been better, except possibly by the addition of a light snowfall, for the atmospheric effect. But those who yearned for a snowy seasonal scene had only to stop by the UPS Store on Main Street, where shop window artist Cindy Odell has somehow miraculously arranged for fluffy precipitation to be falling on a miniature landscape, complete with Christmas Carolers around a tree. (Check it out next time you are downtown.)

This year, once again, the celebration began with a sing-a-long of seasonal favorites, hosted by Plymouth's popular Master of Ceremonies, "Karaoke" Tim Keefe, and his faithful and talented companion, Bill York. Meanwhile, children enjoyed decorating (and eating) holiday cookies on the Common while they waited for the magic moment when the countdown begins for the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree.

The great weather undoubtedly contributed to the one of the best turnouts ever for the annual holiday kickoff event. It was a seasonably cool, starry night, perfect for watching the fireworks display over the Pemigewasset River, from Riverfront Park. The post parade party was cozy and comfortable, especially for those enjoying the Plymouth Rotarians "Chill Buster" Barbecue in front of the blazing bonfire, courtesy of the professionals of the Plymouth Fire Department. Thank you to Plymouth's "other Santa," Alex Ray, and the good folks at the Common Man for feeding the multitudes during the celebration.

All throughout the day, visitors toured the Festival of Trees at the Plymouth Regional Senior Center, and took chances on winning their favorite decorated holiday tree, proceeds to benefit the scholarship fund sponsored by the PSU Operating Staff for worthy students. The lucky winners from the drawing at the end of the evening brought home one of the dozens of beautifully decorated, themed holiday trees, complete with ornaments and special gifts. The offerings are limited only by the seemingly infinite imaginations of the contributors who each year excel in their creativity and generosity.

As is only appropriate this time of year, Santa himself took center stage downstairs in the Main Room at the Senior Center in the evening, as hundreds of kids waited more or less patiently in line for a chance to consult with the ultimate grantor of Christmas wishes. It was a mob scene. We can only hope it did not exhaust the Jolly One so much that he can not attend to his arduous schedule for the remainder of the yet young season!

But the true highlight of the proceedings is the Holiday Hometown Parade itself. This year, the spectacular procession was book-ended, as it has been for many years, by marching bands from as far away as Belmont (the Red Raiders) and Laconia (The Marching Sachems) and as near and dear as the Plymouth and Rumney/Wentworth Elementary School Bands, not to mention the perennial favorite Baker Valley Band—without which no ceremony could be complete.

The contingent from Jazzercize punctuated the procession with a little self-generated electricity of their own, in the form of dance and drama. Participants must have easily (and apparently joyfully) lost as much as five pounds over the course of the parade route with the high energy cardio routine.

Other entries included the Plymouth Regional Huskies Football Team and the Plymouth Predators Hockey Players, as well as the traditional "party float" from the Pemi Youth Center, chock full of little elves under a canopy of colored lights. The Community Guaranty Savings Bank "Polar Express" was filled with red cheeked children as well, and an invasion of pig tailed and pajama clad kids on loan from neighboring Whoville, escorted the Plymouth State University float featuring President Sara Jayne Steen and Provost Julie Bernier, accompanied by none-other than the green-faced Grinch —presumably the reformed version.

Dozens of local businesses and non-profit organizations also joined the parade with floats and banners heralding the advent of the season of goodwill. The Plymouth Area Community Closet, with its mobile Thrift Shop, reminds us to keep our friends and neighbors in need in our thoughts this season and to dig deep into our pockets to make sure that the Food Pantry, financial aid program, Thursday night Meals for Many, and annual Holiday Gift Basket project, are filled with abundance – this year more than ever.

For more photos from the Holiday Hometown Parade, visit the Record Enterprise on Facebook. Happy Holidays, everyone!

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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