LITTLETON — Santa and Mrs. Claus were all smiles during the 33rd annual Littleton Christmas Parade on Saturday.
Riding in a horse-drawn wagon, the First Couple of Christmas beamed and waved enthusiastically to the many people who turned out for the parade which, while an event in itself, also served as the start of Black Friday shopping in Littleton.
The theme of the parade was “A visit to Santa’s Workshop.” The parade began at noon at the Corner of Beacon and Union streets and then proceeded west up Main Street.
The parade was started in 1986 by Dennis Hartwell and this year it was again announced by Bruce James from the balcony of the historic Thayers Inn.
Littleton Police Chief Paul Smith led the parade while Littleton Fire-Rescue, along with the Lisbon, Bethlehem, Ryegate, Vt. and Bath fire departments brought up the rear.
In between, the parade featured a group from Littleton’s St. Rose of Lima Church, which marched with a banner reminding people to “Keep Christ in Christmas” and a lady, in Victorian garb, portraying Eleanor Hodgman Porter (1868–1920), a Littleton native who in her books created the ever-optimistic character of Pollyanna.
This year, the parade again featured multiple honor guards; military vehicles, including a rocket launcher, from the New Hampshire National Guard; the “Roaming Railroad,” from Suffield, Conn.; and both the Littleton High School and Summertime marching bands, the latter made up of members ranging in age from 10 to 65-plus.
As well as Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Littleton Christmas Parade also included several beauty pageant winners and “Wally the Green Monster,” who is the official mascot of the Boston Red Sox; miniature horses; and a pack of wagon-pulling Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Nathan Karol, the executive director of the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce, which organized the parade, said it was “a hit.”
The parade, said Karol, “is truly a community effort thanks to so many volunteers and local sponsors. It kicks off the holiday shopping season in Littleton, an important time for the many locally owned shops along Main Street and downtown.”