"The parade is coming! The parade is coming!" yelled one child to others who played in Wolfeboro's Cate Park just before the annual Christmas in Wolfeboro Parade approached on North Main Street.
Several hundred onlookers of all ages lined the route just south of Brewster Academy to Mill Street downtown to kick off the holiday season in the lakeside community of Wolfeboro, also known as "the oldest summer resort in America."
Shortly after the bell tower at town hall struck 3 o'clock, a procession of about 20 groups and organizations strutted through downtown but it was a jolly man with a red and white suit and white beard that excited kids the most:
"Santa!" replied five-year-old twins Hayley and Carmin White of New Durham when asked their favorite part of the parade. Their mom, Cynthia White, said she's brought her daughters and her son, who is now 12, to the Wolfeboro Christmas Parade since they were babies.
"I have pictures of them at the parade in their strollers," said White. The family spent the day at the holiday crafts fair at Kingswood Regional High School, went home for lunch then returned to town for more shopping and the parade.
Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Devries said downtown was filled with visitors on Saturday who came to shop at local stores or at a number of holiday crafts fair.
She said new parade entrants this year include members of the Northeast Ballet Theatre with characters from their upcoming performance of "The Nutcracker." An entirely new crew of volunteers paraded the First Night Giant Puppets during the procession; also new this year was the "Ugly Christmas Sweater Brigade," organized by Cindy Patten at Black's Paper and Gift Shop.
Children in colorful hats from local nursery schools and child care centers joined the parade on decorated floats or carried banners. Dogs of all breeds and sizes joined the fun as well, escorted by masters marching for the Winni Paw Station, a dog and cat supply store located downtown. Devries said the weather, clear, sunny, cool, and not too windy, was ideal for spending Saturday downtown in "beautiful Wolfeboro."