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Santa's helpers supplemented their crew with these Bernese Mountain dogs. (SARA YOUNG-KNOX PHOTO)

Conway celebrates with jolly holiday parade

CONWAY - It's not often that traffic on Route 16 through Conway is held up by Bernese Mountain dogs hauling carts piled high with Christmas presents, but that was the case Saturday as the annual holiday parade took place on Main Street through Conway Village.

Those entering Mount Washington Valley on the only direct north-south road through the White Mountains waited patiently, with nary a honking horn heard during the 20-minute parade.

The festivities attracted the young, and the young at heart, as locals recognized faces of those marching or riding on the floats, from Girl Scouts members, Arts in Motion Theater Company, young athletes in the Mt. Washington Valley Skating Club, and elves of all shapes and sizes. Santa and Mrs. Claus, sitting up front and center on a wagon drawn by a pair of draft horses, waved to parade watchers.

"Every year it gets better," Barb Pinkham of Albany said as she watched from the sidelines, the late afternoon snow collecting on her dark blue hat. That snow was collecting on the heads and shoulders of parade participants, too, and there were even a few flakes on Girl Scout Megan Murray's reindeer antlers. Pink-cheeked, and bundled in a pink parka, Murray handed out candies to those on the sidelines.

Conway resident Judy Brett was there with her two grandsons, 5-year-old Logan and 3-year-old Landon Ramsey. The boys, obviously eager to meet Santa Claus, were keeping their Christmas lists for him only, hesitant to share wishes with an adult who was not wearing a red suit.

The day's events, which included the parade, tree lighting and photos with Santa, and wrapped up with the Holiday on Ice show at the Ham Arena. The events were organized by the Community Celebrations committee and its partners, the town of Conway, Spirit of Community Caretakers and Community Connector Caretakers.

The Mount Washington Valley Preservation Association, whose mission is to preserve, protect and enhance the town's villages, jumped in last year when the traditional tree lighting in the village was at risk. Since then, the Community Celebrations Committee has made sure there's holiday lighting and wreaths in the villages, a Fourth of July parade in Conway and fireworks July 4 at Schouler Park in North Conway.

On Saturday, committee members were in the thick of things at the triangle of land at the entrance of the village. Committee member Sheila Duane was pouring the free hot chocolate, with fellow committee members Melody Nester of the MWV Skating Club and Janice Crawford of the Mt. Washington Valley Preservation Association emceeing the festivities by the tall Christmas tree.


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