Visions of Sugarplums Hurtling Towards Your Head

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By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, December 9, 1999

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

GRABFEST — The survivors of the sugary barrage scramble to pick up the cracked candies before the next float rolls over them -- the candy, not the kids that is.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]

While I was growing up, oftentimes I would hear my mother refer to someone as being "generous to a fault." In other words, they had been so enthusiastic when it came to the act of giving, that they pretty much went overboard, with their sacrifice taking on such obscene proportions it caused one to question whether the giver was trying to outdo someone else or was just basically insecure.

Mom's phraseology came to mind at one precise point last Saturday when I attended Hampton's annual Christmas parade. I had stationed myself near the grandstand at Marelli Square, snapping photos of the parade and the people, eventually hitching up with some friends of mine from the unfortunately now-defunct Winnacunnet Warriors Band Boosters Club [WHSBBC] (and that's a whole `nother commentary).

Along with everyone else, I enjoyed the floats and scouts and antique cars as they went by. I applauded the Warrior Band, waved to folks on the fire trucks, and admired the handiwork and care which had been taken to decorate with holiday finery the horses who serve on Hampton's Mounted Police Force. I also got a kick out of the kids (and, yes, the "big kids" too) who scrambled to retrieve the candy tossed here and there by those who were marching down Lafayette Road to the strains of "Jingle Bells."

Now, this is the point where Mom's words resurfaced in my mind. One of the parade entries, a Hampton business, proved it was incredibly "generous to a fault" -- and then some -- when its marchers took to hurling huge handfuls of hard candies into the crowds lining both sides of the street. They flung the colorful confections with such abandon that people were getting pelted mercilessly again and again by individually-wrapped goodies.

All up and down the parade route, people were trying to protect themselves from the onslaught of sweets, hiding their faces behind raised arms, letting their backs and shoulders take the brunt of the sugary assault. It was almost downright dangerous for the younger set to try to venture out to scoop anything up off the street, because no sooner would one bombardment of bon-bons take place then another would immediately follow right behind it. One couple even took to shielding with their bodies a baby sitting in a stroller, so that the defenseless little one would not feel the sting of a zillion red and white Star Mints. All around us we could hear the candies cracking on impact as they hit the ground, and enthusiasm for scrambling for the free treats was guarded at best.

It was more than a little risky to take a look skyward to see from what direction the sweets were coming, because there was sure to be a rootbeer barrel (or two, or ten) heading straight for the noggin. Again and again, handfuls of assorted flavors rained down on everyone. The crowd experienced relief only when the marchers stopped long enough to "reload," enthusiastically ripping open fresh bags of candy before continuing their butterscotch barrage anew as they headed off toward the parade's end, leaving behind to melt on the wet pavement not only a wealth of candies that would have looked far more appetizing in a silver dish at someone's Christmas party, but also plenty of crunchy little opportunities for advancing parade marchers to perhaps turn an ankle or two on, or to kick out of their path into the sidelines.

When all was said and done and Santa Claus had gone by, waving sympathetically to the battle-weary crowd from his post atop a Hampton fire truck, traffic along Lafayette Road finally returned to normal, and soon the tires of scores of automobiles had flattened the multicolored "mine field" into cellophane-wrapped splotches of sucrose on the pavement, a silent reminder of what can happen when someone is "generous to a fault."

Blessedly, by the beginning of the week there were hardly any traces of what had occurred that fateful day of the Hampton Christmas Parade. No doubt it was easier cleaning up after the horses.

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