Snow Shovel Brigade organizing for Laconia parade

LACONIA — The Snow Shovel Brigade made its debut two years ago in the Laconia Downtown Christmas Parade and plans to return this year if enough community members step up to step out as part of this fun raising band of marchers. The organizers hope once again to bring Christmas cheer and smiles to the parade onlookers of all ages. But in order to do this at least 20 enthusiastic shovel brigaders are needed.

The initial announcement was made on social media but the official announcement is being made here. The initial organizational meeting will be made this Thursday, November 13, evening from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Frates Creative Arts Center located at 27 Canal Street in Downtown Laconia.

Adults and teens are invited to bring a snow shovel to the meeting, which will include instruction for the shovel maneuvers and requirements for the crazy winter outfits needed for the parade. Followup rehearsal will be held on Monday, November 17 and Tuesday November 18 for review of the marching instruction for those who feel they need more practice. These additional times are also scheduled for last minute friends to join the group.

Those who can't carry a shovel but are interested in carrying the Official Brigade Banner, Snow Removal signs, or joining the drummer group (bring your drum) are also invited to these meetings.

Anyone with questions about the Snow Shovel Brigade should contact the group's organizer, Larry Frates, by calling 528-7651 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Downtown Laconia Holiday Parade to be held on Nov. 29

LACONIA — Whether you have a partridge in a pear tree, or five golden rings on your list, the twelve pipers paving of R. M. Piper Inc. are helping to ready downtown Laconia for an enjoyable holiday season.

The Downtown Laconia Main Street Initiative and the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce are pleased to announce the annual Laconia Holiday Parade will be held on Saturday, November, 29, 2014 this year, starting at 1 p.m.

"We have received word from the North Pole that Mr. and Mrs. Santa will be participating in this year's parade", said Sue Bullerwell, the Main Street promotions chair, who seems to have a direct line to the arctic, "And of course, local merchants will be open for your holiday shopping, along with more than a dozen eateries".

Each year, the parade begins at Wyatt Park, continues up Main Street, and ends at the historic train station in Veterans' Square with the lighting of the Christmas tree.

This year the parade will travel for the first time over the newly constructed center section of the Main Street Bridge as it crosses the Winnipesaukee River. "It is wonderful that the City of Laconia could shop locally, and effectively buy this rejuvenated bridge from a Plymouth New Hampshire contractor", said John Moriarty, president of the Main Street Initiative.

"They care about doing quality work that will last, and about supporting our community with this unprecedented donation", explained Melissa McCarthy, the Main Street's "people person", referring to the fact that the sponsorship covers the transportation and performance costs for the Laconia, Gilford and Belmont bands, These costs were historically underwritten by the generosity of several donors. "This meets one of our strategic goals, in that by partnering with other organizations, the community preserves a wonderful memory for their children, and we support the school band programs, all thanks this year to R. M. Piper" concluded Moriarty.

Registrations are now being accepted for those that wish to participate in the parade. Last year, more than 70 floats and marching bands participated in the holiday parade and several thousand viewers lined the streets of downtown Laconia. To learn more about the event or obtain information about parade registration, go to and click on the Community Calendar. Forms will also be available at Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce at 383 South Main Street or All My Life Jewelers at 639 Main Street in Laconia.

PSU receives gift of more than 200 letters written from WWII sailor to his sister, a student at Plymouth

PLYMOUTH — A collection of more than 200 letters mailed by an Ossipee, N.H. sailor to his sister attending Plymouth Teachers College (PTC) during World War II has been donated to Plymouth State University.

The sailor, Edgar Eldredge, was stationed aboard the USS Rankin; he faithfully mailed letters detailing life in the Pacific Theatre to his sister Fran, an education major at Plymouth. The correspondence was donated to the University by Louis "Skip" Sander, Executive Director of the USS Rankin Association, an organization established to preserve the memory of the Rankin. The letters offer a fascinating glimpse of life aboard a ship during wartime, as well as a New Hampshire college town thousands of miles away.

"This collection is really a treasure, it is a snapshot of what they were doing, what was life was like on campus in the early 1940s," said Plymouth State archivist Alice Staples. "Then there's the larger picture, World War II, and what was going on; we don't often get to understand what life was like in history-making times like that."

Sander collects memorabilia about the Rankin and acquired the letters earlier this year through on online auction. When he started reading the letters, he was fascinated.

"It was like a book you couldn't put's the diary of the life of a simple, country kid from New Hampshire; every two or three days this guy wrote a letter to his sister–that's familial devotion," Sander said. "There was lot in his correspondence about what was going on back home; he was interested in his grandfather's activities, like selling bait at Lake Winnipesaukee, or the arrival of a new puppy. But he was really devoted to his sister, a real tight-knit family communicating with each other."

After researching the names and addresses on the letters, Sander, a Pittsburgh resident, contacted Staples and offered the University the collection.

"All of these letters were addressed to Plymouth Teachers College," Sander noted. "Donating them just seemed like an obvious thing to do, so I contacted Alice Staples and she agreed."

The letters, written in longhand on US Navy stationery, cover the years 1944-46. Eldredge was a deck seaman aboard the Rankin. His letters detail his activities as the ship went through training in amphibious operations, passed through the Panama Canal, and moved to the Pacific Theatre. Ultimately, the Rankin participated in the latter stages of the Battle of Okinawa. Edgar was in the Pacific when the U.S. used the atom bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In writing home in August, 1945, he optimistically hoped for hostilities to cease.

Sander said Eldredge was discharged in mid-1946, and in his last letter he expressed hope that he would be home in time for his sister's graduation from PTC in May, 1946. Sander believes he made it in time.

"After he returned home, Eldredge went to trade school, learning about heating and plumbing systems, and he worked for a Moultonborough hardware store for many years," Sander said. "Edgar eventually married one of Fran's classmates, Norma Moulton, and their daughter, Susan, graduated from Plymouth State in 1974."

Both Eldredge and his sister Fran are deceased. Plymouth State University is transcribing the letters and will make them available to the public when that project is completed.

Campaign to preserve Mount Major reaches goal

CONCORD — Nearly 2,000 fans of Mount Major donated to a fundraising campaign to buy land on and near the popular hiking destination, lifting the campaign to its $1.8 million goal.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the Lakes Region Conservation Trust and the Belknap Range Conservation Coalition have successfully raised the money needed to purchase and protect four key properties — 980 acres — on Mont Major and other parts of the Belknap Range,  southwest of Lake Winnipesaukee. The Everybody Hikes Mount Major campaign has resulted in the purchase of three separate properties on Mount Major, East Quarry and Piper mountains, all in Alton and Gilford. The acquisition of a fourth tract, near the Mount Major trailhead, is in the final stages.

The campaign received more than 1,900 gifts ranging from $2 to $340,000. Gifts came in from 31 states, from as far away as Hawaii, Arizona and Oregon. More than 25 volunteers rolled up their sleeves to provide campaign information to hikers and to collect contributions at the Mt. Major trailhead.

"People have been telling us throughout this campaign how much they love hiking in the Belknaps, especially to the top of Mt. Major, and seeing the spectacular view of Lake Winnipesaukee," said Jane Difley, Forest Society president and forester. "We are grateful to all of the donors and volunteers who made it possible for us and our partners to help to preserve access for hikers as well as to conserve the forests, wetlands and streams on these properties -- for people and for wildlife."

"The Belknap Range, and particularly Mt. Major, has long been a treasured natural, recreational, and scenic resource enjoyed year-round by Lakes Region residents and visitors alike," said Don Berry, LRCT president. "We greatly appreciate the hard work and generosity of everyone involved in this project, which have made possible the protection of these key parcels and their important trails and natural resources, and which lay the foundation for future conservation successes in the Belknap Range."

Many foundations and government agencies supported the campaign. The Steinwachs Family Foundation provided a leadership gift, and a new trailhead on the Quarry Mountain parcel will be named in the family's honor. Other funders include the N.H. Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), the towns of Alton and Gilford, the Open Space Institute Land Trust Inc.'s Resilient Landscapes Initiative, made possible by a lead grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Bafflin Foundation, the S.L. Gimbel Foundation, Paul and Sandra Montrone, three anonymous family foundations, the N.H. State Conservation Committee's "Moose Plate" Program, the N.H. Electric Co-op Foundation, NHCF Wolfeboro Fund, Samuel P. Pardoe Foundation, the William Wharton Trust, and Bank of New Hampshire.

"Mt. Major and the Belknaps make up a beloved landscape – the backdrop of Lake Winnipesaukee -- and we are excited to be working in partnership with the Lakes Region conservation community to protect it," Difley said.

"The Belknaps, along with the Ossipee Mountains and Red Hill, form the natural setting for Lake Winnipesaukee. Protecting these uplands has been an important priority for many years," Berry said.

The popularity of Mount Major's trails has left them degraded by overuse, so the Forest Society has formed a stewardship fund to repair and maintain them. Anyone wishing to help can find more information at