Merrimack Holiday Parade one of joy and no rain

Children stood agape at the wonders of the Merrimack Holiday Parade and Holiday Tree Lighting, hosted by the Merrimack Parks and Recreation Department and the Merrimack Chamber of Commerce, on Sunday, Dec. 8.

Passing in review for hundreds of families gathered along the parade route were more than 300 marchers from some 25 community groups and businesses. The parade began at The Commons shopping center, 515 Daniel Webster Highway. It made for a musical journey along Daniel Webster Highway to Baboosic Lake Road. The participants were well fortified with steaming hot chocolate provided by volunteers from Merrimack Friends and Family.

The parade soon arrived at Town Hall and Abbie Griffin Park, site of more revelry, including the lighting of the town’s holiday tree. Performances by baton twirlers from Ameri-Kids Twirlers and dancers from Broadway Bound followed, as did visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The jolly pair was ensconced near the brilliantly illuminated tree that stood beneath the roof of the gazebo.

Kelly Valluzzi, of the Parks and Recreation Department, said the parade was a great success. It had been rained out the previous Sunday. The rescheduled event was met with clear skies.

Valluzzi praised the contributions made by all the groups and individuals who participated.

“The parade was a great success,” Valluzzi said. “I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome and the festive atmosphere around all who participated.”

She cited some participants: Police Honor Guard, the Police DARE car, Merrimack High School Marching Band, Merrimack Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, Merrimack Friends and Family, PTA Preschool, Chunky’s Cinema Pub, Chabad Lubavith, MHS Interact Club, Greater Nashua Relay for Life, Broadway Bound and Ameri-Kids Twirlers, Bentley Commons, STA Bus Company, 95.7 WZID, NH Right Riders, Northeast Credit Union and 96.5 The Mill.

She also commended Chris Woods from Advantage Insurance, who manned the vehicle carrying the Parks and Rec Committee, the Merrimack Fire Department for its show of big, red ladder trucks and rescue vehicles, the Merrimack police who frequently sounded their police-car sirens, and not least, Santa and Mrs. Claus, who traveled the parade route atop a heavy-duty Ram 4500 truck, driven by Mark Rivet, of Rivet Funeral Home & Cremation.

The Merrimack Girl Scouts had an impressive contingent of more than 100 girls. They dressed with a theme, Holidays Around the World. Parent volunteers and Alice Donahoe from Troop 10688 provided cookies and hot chocolate to scores of visitors at Abbie Griffin Park.

Valluzzi said the enthusiasm of the Girl Scouts goes far toward making the parade, and other town events, continually successful endeavors. The Scouts, dancers, musicians and others added to the holiday spirit.

“The tree lighting was amazing,” Valluzzi said. “People loved the performances by Ameri-Kids Twirlers and Broadway Bound, and Harriet Riendeau, who emceed the ceremony, did a wonderful job.”

The Broadway Bound contingent added a new twist to their performance. Some of the young ladies, dressed in black and pink, came out into the crowd and headed toward their fathers. The music continued and the daughters and fathers, on cue, did a short dance routine, together. The moves were capped when the dads lifted their daughters aloft and down again. The crowd cheered.

Nick and Tara Letoile, parents of dancers Abby and Paige, said the girls’ participation in the parade was a reflection of the family’s sense of community and their enjoyment of the Christmas spirit.

“We love to see them happy,” Nick said. “They love to dance and we love to watch them.”

Many in the crowd commented on the beauty of the bandstand at Abbie Griffin Park. Few knew it was the caring work of Dan Hock from Merrimack Flower Shop and Greenhouse. He festooned the gazebo with fresh greens, five large kissing balls connected with ropes of greenery and a number of colorful bows. Most had cameras at the ready, for the gazebo made a seasonal backdrop much admired.

Megan and Shawn Landry, of Merrimack, watched the festivities with their youngsters, Bailey, 1, and Tucker, 3. Shawn’s brother, Doug Landry, along with Doug’s wife, Jen, and the couple’s sons, Jacob, and Ben, a saxophone player in the high school band, found the parade a fine event. They all were well bundled and cozy.

Tucker, sporting a cap with a chin strap, a warm, hooded coat and a pair of colorful, striped gloves, said he was there to see Santa.

When his mom asked him if he had a Christmas wish list that he wanted to give Santa Claus, the child was quick to answer, for the list was brief.

“Cookies and presents,” Tucker said.

For more information on the Merrimack Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 882-1046.