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A trumpeter from the Gilbert H. Hood Middle School Band looked like one of Santa's reindeer during the annual Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce holiday parade on Saturday. (ADAM SWIFT/Union Leader Correspondent)

Derry parade kicks off holidays

DERRY -- The chill in the air only made it feel more like the holidays on Saturday, as the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce held its annual holiday parade.

Many favorite holiday characters and celebrities could be seen on floats and along the parade route, from Santa Claus and the Grinch to local television weatherman Al Kaprielian.

Local merchants and businesses were also front and center, as the chamber honored Janet Conroy, the first female member of the Derry Board of Selectmen, as Person of the Year, and Mr. Steer Meats of Londonderry as the Business of the Year.

As has become almost as much of a tradition as the parade itself, the Water's Edge Salon and Spa took first place as the best float in the parade for hitting all the festive high points of the season from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day.

The theme of this year's parade was the songs and sounds of the holiday season.The Derry Village Rotary Club helped parade-goers remember the true spirit of the holidays, as Rotary members collected canned goods and donations for local food pantries to kick off the parade.

As the parade has grown into an all-day event over the years, the Derry Recreation Department has helped manage a number of the day's activities.

After wrapping up the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus could be found at the Derry Memorial Opera House helping youngsters make their holiday wish lists and posing for pictures.