Christmas Parade Revival Praised

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Group Raising Funds, Hoping to get OK from Selectmen

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, October 15, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
Members of the New Hampshire Academy of Performing Arts play for a large crowd in downtown Hampton during the Christmas parade on Dec. 2, 2006.
[Herald file photo]

HAMPTON -- A group of local citizens are working to bring back the Christmas parade, an annual tradition that occurred the day after the tree lighting ceremony in downtown Hampton for more than 10 years up until 2007.

"We would like to bring it back," said Hampton resident Matt Henderson. "I think it's a town tradition that everyone missed."

The group led by Henderson will be going before Selectmen Monday night seeking permission to hold the event on Saturday, Dec. 4.

Organizers are working to raise between $4,000 and $5,000 to cover the cost of a $1 million liability insurance policy, special police details along the parade route, band, buses and other expenses.

"Our goal is to fund the event through private contributions with no impact on the town's budget," said Henderson.

"I don't think it will be a problem if I can prove to selectmen that we have the money to do it."

The Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce, which put on the parade in the past, has already pledged $500 for the cause.

"We always said if anybody wanted to take over the parade we would be more than happy to participate and help along the way," said BJ "Doc" Noel, president of the Chamber.

The Chamber's board of directors canceled the annual tradition back in 2007 stating that putting on the parade was too much of a liability.

At the time, they said a new state law that went into effect improving float safety after the death of Thomas Fogarty — a 9-year-old Greenland boy who died when he fell off a float in the Portsmouth parade in 2006 — would be too tough to enforce and that cost of the liability was just too great to undertake for a nonprofit.

Henderson said they have contacted Tobey and Merrill Insurance, which is assisting them through insurance requirements.

They have also received help from Portsmouth and Exeter — which have holiday parades — regarding safety regulations they have put in place after the change to the law in 2007 that called for more adult supervision on floats carrying children and requiring other safety measures.

Dyana Martin, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said she is glad a group of residents are working to bring back the parade.

"I think it's a great idea," said Martin.

The department, she said, is willing to work with the group if selectmen give them the OK.

Martin said they are partnering with the Chamber to host a bigger Christmas Tree Lighting event than in years past.

A parade, she said, would be the icing on the cake.

Henderson said if they get permission, they are going to do their best to put on a parade like the ones everyone remembers.

"Our only problem is we don't have much time to plan," he said. "If we get the OK we will put on the best parade we can for this year but we will start planning in January for the next one."

Emergency vehicles leading the Christmas parade approach downtown Hampton on Saturday, December 2, 2006.
[Herald file photo]

Helping Hand

A group working to revive the town's annual Christmas parade is looking for donations to help cover the costs of the event.

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