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A snowman waves to the crowd lined along Elm Street in Manchester as part of the Spirit of New Hampshire Christmas Parade Saturday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

Eclectic cast highlights annual Christmas parade in Manchester

MANCHESTER - Captain Hook and Darth Vader joined Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus to delight thousands attending the annual Christmas parade along Elm Street on Saturday.

And the dancing snowflakes delivered by Mother Nature whitened sidewalks and widened smiles.

"I think the snow adds a little magic for the parade," Jarid Bond of Hooksett said.

Not everyone was focused on the floats and festive marchers.

Manchester twins Jack and Drew Stephen, both 8, played on a snow-covered sidewalk near Harrison Street.

"I thought they'd be more into the parade, but they like the snow angels," said their uncle, Rob Stephen.

Christmas carolers warned of Santa coming to town.

Try 3,000 Santas.

Prior to the parade's 4 p.m. kickoff, runners participating in the BASC Santa Shuffle were given red suits and hats to don for the three-mile run on a course mainly along Elm Street.

Some children might have been confused about the Santa invasion. But Bond, who was with his wife and two daughters, explained they were merely "Santa's helpers."

At least one Manchester mother surprised her children with a summer-time discovery.

"Look what I found in my (jacket) pocket: sand from the beach," Laura McBrien told them. "I got summer in my pocket."

But she already had embraced the Christmas season.

"I love seeing all the Santas dressed up," including a "sweaty Santa" normally called Keith, her husband.

Parade-goers - some watching from warmed vehicles parked along the route - saw a huge inflatable dinosaur, an armored Manchester police SWAT vehicle, baton-twirlers and the Grinch perched on a sleigh.

Guys dressed like the ghost-fighters from the movie "Ghostbusters" marched with a large inflatable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (a fictional one appeared in the movie) while a Cub Scouts group rode on a float holding sticks with marshmallows at the tips.

The hour-long parade included Manchester Memorial High School's swim team. Junior Cody Aubin wore his swimming medals around his neck and passed out candy along the parade route.

"It's a lot of fun," he said.

Nashua resident John Roscoe brought his son, Tim, 12, and daughter, Katie, 10, like he does every year.

"I think they did a real good job," he said. "The kids always enjoy it."

Colette Roy of Manchester delivered her 6-year-old niece Addison Roy to a front-row spot, so the girl could give her letter to the marching postal employees to deliver to Santa. The elder Roy said she was fine with Saturday's snow.

"Today, it adds to the mood, but tomorrow I could care less," he said.


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