Santa Claus will show up in person for holiday parades on the Seacoast after a year when many communities canceled traditional celebrations.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Exeter to replace the town’s usual parade with a drive-thru version last year.

“We wanted to do a real parade this year,” said Mark Ericson, who serves on the volunteer committee for the Dec. 4 Exeter event.

Ericson said the theme this year is “Celebrate.” Organizers are still looking for participants. The parade is light on business entries and community groups, he said.

There will be ways for people to enjoy the parade without going to it if they feel uncomfortable gathering in groups.

Ericson said Exeter TV, the local public, educational and government access channels, will be broadcasting the parade live on television and online.

Ericson said everyone needs “as much happy as they can find” as 2021 comes to an end.

“There’s nothing better than when a child sees Santa waving at them either in person or through the lens of a camera,” Ericson said.

Exeter’s Holiday Parade will start at Osram on Portsmouth Avenue at 5:30 p.m. and will end along Swasey Parkway.

Superheroes unite

In Rochester, the theme of this year’s parade is “A Comic Book Christmas,” and organizers hope to see a number of people dressed up as superheroes on Dec. 5 at 3 p.m.

The parade in Rochester will begin on Wakefield Street by the triangle at the entrance to Spaulding High School and will end on South Main Street by the Rochester Commons.

Laura Ring, president of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce, said the city did not have a parade last year due to the pandemic.

“We’re happy to get out there for the kids again. The adults like it, too,” Ring said.

Ring confirmed Santa will be there.

“He will be toward the end of the parade with his sleigh and reindeer,” Ring said.

Rochester’s Community Channel 12 will broadcast the event, and there will be a link to the video on the chamber’s website throughout the holiday season, according to the parade announcement.

Tree lighting and parade

An illuminated holiday parade and tree lighting event will be held in Portsmouth on Dec. 4.

According to the city’s website, a DJ will begin playing holiday music in Market Square starting at 4 p.m.

At 5:25 p.m., the holiday tree will be lit.

The parade starts at the Goodwin Park area on Islington Street at 6 p.m. and participants will make their way to Parrott Avenue. Road closures around Market Square start at 3:30 p.m., according to the city’s website.

No parade in Dover, but Santa is expected

Dover typically has a large parade which occurs the Sunday following Thanksgiving. Last year, one was not held due to COVID-19 health concerns. Civic organizations that usually organize the parade could not do so this year, City Manager Michael Joyal told the City Council during its Nov. 10 meeting, according to an announcement provided by city spokesman Michael Gillis.

“However, the fire department has been in touch with the North Pole and Santa Claus will be making a special visit to Dover and will be connecting with the fire department and they have agreed to help transport Santa Claus around the community,” Joyal said. “I believe Mrs. Claus will be with him.”

Santa Claus and a few elves will be escorted by members of Dover Main Street through the city on Dec. 12 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Dover’s government access channel will air more than 10 years of past parades for people to watch at home on Nov. 28. The broadcast will start at 6 a.m. and continue until 10 p.m.

Channel 22 has a live stream available on the city website so anyone can enjoy the parades if they have access to the internet.