Parade Return Given the Green (and Red) Light

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By Shir Haberman

Hampton Union, Friday, October 22, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
Emergency vehicles leading the Christmas parade approach downtown Hampton on Saturday, December 2, 2006.
[Herald file photo]

HAMPTON -- Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he will return to the Hampton Christmas Parade this December after a three-year absence.

The Board of Selectmen not only approved holding the parade this year, but voted unanimously — with Selectman Jerry Znoj not in attendance at Monday's meeting — to contribute up to $3,000 to make sure it's as good as it was before it was cancelled in 2007.

Voters had approved a contribution of approximately that amount to the parade at Town Meeting that year, but because the event was cancelled that money should still be available in the town's surplus account, said Selectman Rick Griffin.

The board was approached by residents Matt Henderson and Judy Dubois Monday, Oct. 18 for permission to hold the parade, which they said will be funded by local individuals, businesses and organizations.

"We're not asking for funding, we're just looking for permission to hold the parade," Henderson told the board.

The Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce has already pledged $500 toward the event, which it had sponsored until the parade was cancelled.

"It was a very tough decision for the board," said Eileen Nevins, chairwoman of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce's executive board of directors back in 2007. "We discussed it at length. The cost of the liability was just too great to undertake for a nonprofit."

That year the Legislature passed a law aimed at improving float safety. It was in response to the death of Thomas Fogarty, a 9-year-old Greenland boy, who fell off a float and was run over during the 2006 Portsmouth parade.

"The last thing in the world we want is for anything to happen to a child," Hampton Chamber President "Doc" Noel said in 2007.

Selectman Bill Lally said he wanted to make it clear that this year's parade is being organized and conducted as a privately funded and operated event.

"It should be clear that this is a private enterprise," Lally said Monday. "It's not a town-sponsored event."

Town attorney Mark Gearreald confirmed that the organizers would list the town as a co-insured party on the $1 million liability policy, Henderson said parade organizers had secured for the event. He said the cost of the policy had been just $480.

A concern was raised by board Chairman Richard Nichols about public safety issues. He asked Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan if he was in favor of holding the event.

"I think everybody's in favor of the Christmas parade," the chief responded.

Sullivan noted, however, that the event would create some additional costs for his department.

"There are a number of expenses for us (in protecting public safety during the parade such as traffic control and staffing the additional patrols that would be necessary)," the chief indicated. "Just give use direction."

The motion passed by the board included approval of those additional expenses.

While the specifics of the parade route have not been finalized, the tentative date of the event has been set at Dec. 4, the day after the traditional tree-lighting ceremony and caroling at the gazebo on Route 1 downtown.

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]
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