Experience Hampton Builds a Holiday Tradition

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First Holiday Parade Since 2007

By Liz Premo

Hampton Union, Tuesday, November 30, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
Diane Baroody of Manchester works on a sign for the Experience Hampton float as 3-year-old Lillian Snow looks on inside the Labels Inc. plant in Hampton on Sunday.
Portsmouth Herald Photo

HAMPTON -- "Jingle Bells" rang out over the din of high-powered saws, nail guns and hammers in one of the parking lots near the end of Merrill Industrial Drive in Hampton on Sunday.

"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way," Chris Snow sang with the music, as he walked out of the bright, chilly sunlight into the warehouse of his business, Labels Inc.

Just inside the wide garage door, adults were spray-painting cardboard figures white and red, and kids were wrapping boxes in cheery Christmas paper.

"Nice job, nice job!" he told them, flashing a hearty smile.

Snow and his fellow volunteers had a particularly good reason for being so cheerful that afternoon. They were assembling the "Experience Hampton" float that will be traveling down Lafayette Road on Saturday, Dec. 4 in Hampton's first holiday parade since the event was cancelled in 2007.

"When I was a kid here in town it was the best thing in the world," he said of the parade. "It's good to see everybody jump in and lend a hand."

The event will be made possible thanks to the newly formed Experience Hampton Committee and scores of local businesses, organizations, sponsors and volunteers.

Over the past two months they have made a concerted effort to welcome one of Hampton's holiday traditions back to town.

"This is bringing the community together," said Matt Henderson, who pitched the idea to Hampton selectmen back in October. "People have been very generous."

And they're more than eager to help, too. "We've got all our little elves in there, working away," he grinned.

Galley Hatch restaurant owner John Tinios credited Henderson and others who formed the committee.

"They got into the spirit of moving Hampton forward," he said. "We just all jumped on board."

"The restaurants jumped all over this, then the small businesses joined in," added Dan "Desi" Lanio of the 401 Tavern.

According to committee member Judy Dubois (a veteran of many holiday parades), more than 50 parade entries have been received by the committee thus far, and donations have been pouring in all along.

Early on, a fund-raiser that sold nutcracker decals for $1 each brought in $2,000 in just the first weekend. Most of the supporting restaurants have donated $500 to $1,000, and about $15,000 has been raised to date.

The town provided $2,000 and help with police and fire details, and the Greater Hampton Chamber of Commerce helped with costs and a $1,000 donation.

"This is being funded by private people that got together. A lot of nonprofits are giving their time and money to make it happen," said Tinios. "I can't believe the outpouring of support. This will be a feel-good parade."

Speaking of the person who got the ball rolling, Tinios said, "Matt has been a rock. He stayed focused on making this a quality parade."

Tinios' 90-year-old mother, Katherine "Kay" Tinios, will be serving as grand marshal. "She is thrilled to be a part of it," said Tinios, who had suggested the Experience Hampton Committee be represented by a float.

Traveling on their float will be adults and children singing carols, residents representing various aspects of the town, a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts, huge lollipops and giant candy canes.

Creating the latter was Diane Baroody (whose daughter Martha along with Lynn Grandmaison, spearheaded this effort). Baroody had taken the day off from work and traveled from Manchester to help out.

Having finished spray painting cardboard arrows a cheery red, Baroody next concentrated on painting a narrow red stripe twisting down a white cylindrical form.

"I'm trying! It's not as easy as it looks!" she joked.

More than two dozen "presents" for the float were wrapped by the youngest bunch of volunteers, assisted by Maria Eisfelle of Foss Manufacturing.

"It's nice to be able to bring the parade back to the community," she said, taping the paper securely to a box. "I think it's nice for the children."

Outside, with assistance provided by at least a half-dozen pairs of helping hands, Grandmaison and Mike Cestone were cutting red felt that will stretch around the bottom of the float.

"Everybody's helping; they have been great," said Grandmaison. "Friends of friends have invited people to help out."

Also on hand was one of the biggest fans of Hampton's annual parade, 8-1/2 year-old Hunter Lawson, a third grader at Marston School and a good friend of Lanio.

"I think it's really awesome it's coming back finally," said Hunter. "I really missed it."

According to Dubois, "There will be five bands, jugglers, clowns, unicycles, dancers and more. Floats and many marching units are participating. This year, Santa will be escorted into town in a very special way."

Dubois didn't disclose how that would happen, but the community will find out at the parade, stepping off at 1 p.m. from the parking lot behind the Best Western Inn at Hampton and marching down Route 1 to the Galley Hatch.

When the parade is over, it won't be the end for the Experience Hampton Committee.

"The committee plans to stay together," said Lanio, "and continue this promotion of Hampton as a place to do business and make it a better place to live."

In fact, said Henderson, "We hope to make it a nonprofit next year."

When: December 4 -- 1 p.m.
Where: From the parking lot behind the Best Western Inn in Hampton and marching down Route 1 to the Galley Hatch.

Painters from left, Martha Baroody of Hampton, Nancy Andrew of Hampton and Diane Baroody of Manchester white-wash the fencing on the Experience Hampton float.
Portsmouth Herald Photo
Boxes are lined up to be wrapped, as part of the decoration for the Experience Hampton float, inside the Labels Inc. plant in Hampton on Sunday. Lillian Snow, 3, of Hampton in background.
Portsmouth Herald Photo

Maria Eisfeller of Stratham brings decorations for the Experience Hampton float.
Portsmouth Herald Photo
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