LACONIA — The annual Laconia Holiday Parade, which for the last four years has been held on a Saturday afternoon, will switch back to a Sunday this year and will feature more than 60 groups and floats.
The parade will get underway at 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 29. Held snow or shine, the family-friendly event is organized jointly by the Downtown Laconia Main Street Initiative and the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. The parade will begin at Wyatt Park and finish at Veterans Square.
"For decades, the Holiday Parade was held on a Sunday", said Karmen Gifford, executive director of the Chamber. "We experimented with Saturdays for a few years, but are returning to Sunday this year by popular demand."
"The parade culminates with the lighting of our city's giant tree in Veterans Square," said John Moriarty, president of the downtown group. "Starting the parade later means the tree will be lit at the best time so it can be displayed to full effect."
The change in time also will highlight the start of plans under way to upgrade the tree lights for 2016.
He said those individuals, families, or groups who wish to register a float still have a narrow window in which to do so by contacting Sue Bullerwell at All My Life Jewelers on Main Street for more information.
"The parade is a festive way for our community to kick off the holidays," said Bullerwell, who chairs the downtown group's Promotions Committee. "We are seeing a lot of groups returning, but with the new opportunities that a nighttime parade offers, we are seeing some new people with new ideas registering, too."
She said many groups are evidently enthusiastic about the new hours of the parade and the opportunity to let their light shine. Bank of New Hampshire's float is called "Gingerbread House on Candy Cane Lane," and, for the first time, will be illuminated.
Other parade participants will include Miss Winnipesaukee and Miss Weirs Beach, the Girl Scouts, the Streetcar Company with "A Christmas Story" theme; the Emergency Veterinary Hospital of Meredith with their canine company; plus the Kiwanis Club; the pace car from New Hampshire Motor Speedway, featuring their mascot, Milo the Moose; and the new Winnipesaukee Muskrats with their mascot, Scrat.
There will also be many classic cars featured, many chosen for their bright colors to show prominently in the parade lighting. Among them will be a handmade tribute re-creation of a 1934 Griffin, whose hues might even rival the holiday tree.
Another milestone of this year's parade involves the marching bands with Laconia, Belmont and Gilford High Schools performing.
"But this year will be the final parade for Debbie Gibson, who is retiring as band director of the Laconia Sachems band," Bullerwell said.
"We have heard a rumor from the North Pole that Santa will also be present and taking part in the lighting of the tree, assisted by elves from the Christmas Village," Gifford said.
Moriarty expressed gratitude for those businesses that contributed, which in turn makes this gift to the community possible.
"This is not a commercial or mercantile stunt" Moriarty said. "This parade brings together children of all ages 'from 9 to 92' from across the Lakes Region and provides a chance to catch up with neighbors and family."
This year's sponsors include All My Life jewelers, Bead Divine, Condodemetraky Engineering, Laconia Village Bakery, MC Cycle & Sport, Polished & Proper Barber Shop, The Studio, Wayfarer Coffee Roasters and Yoga from the Heart.
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