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A small choir leads the crowd in carols at Goffstown's Friday Night Under the Lights holiday celebration. (BARBARA TAORMINA/Union Leader Correspondent))

Goffstown celebrates Christmas with lights, Santa, hayrides

GOFFSTOWN -- Hundreds of people packed Main Street in Goffstown Friday Night for a community celebration to welcome Christmas. Families took hayrides around downtown, kids discussed toys with Santa, people huddled together to admired all sorts of lights and the Congregational Church presented a Living Nativity and with a choir that led the crowd in a round of Christmas carols.

"This is really Christmas," said Manchester resident Patty Burt, who said she was taking time out from shopping to enjoy the night.

Sponsored by the Goffstown Main Street Program, which organizes events year round to promote the historic village district and maintain a small-town quality of life, the annual holiday gathering generated a lot of holiday warmth despite cold, crisp temperatures.

"It's a traditional event that people look forward to every year," said Cheryl Elliott, a member of the board of the Main Street Program. "It's all free, and it gets the community together to celebrate the holiday."

The Goffstown Home Designers, Builders & Remodelers added a new event to this year's celebration with a river fire, a series of small fires that burned in the water as music played in the background. People munched on Christmas cookies and sipped cocoa trying to figure out the secret to lighting small fires in the water.

"This is a great time," said Jodi Abood, from Slawsby Insurance, one of the sponsors of the event. "Goffstown is a small, very tight, family-orientated community. Everybody is bumping into one another, everyone knows everyone. It's really nice."

But people also visited from other cities and towns to get a taste of an old fashioned small town Christmas event.

"We come to Goffstown for a lot of things here," said Barnstead resident John Coughlin, who was heading over to get in line for a hayride with his daughter. "It's a great community."

The main event of the night for a lot of people was the live nativity in front of the Congregation Church. A narrator read a version of the story of Christmas and the small choir sang carols with the help of a crowd who gathered on the sidewalk.

"We really hope to share with the community the true meaning of Christmas," said Rev. Bob McKenney, who was dressed as a shepherd for his part in the program.

"We just want to let people know that at this time of year, when things are hard for a lot of people, there's hope," he said.

44th Annual Market Days Festival
Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.,
Saturday, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Darci Lynne
Saturday, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

2nd Annual Amherst Food Truck Festival
Saturday, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.

14th Annual New England Brewfest
Saturday, 3 p.m. - 8 p.m.

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