Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

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Kids Join in a Christmas Carol Sing-along

Photos & Story by Nancy Rineman

Hampton Union, Tuesday, December 4, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Kids join in a Christmas carol sing-along with the Hampton Community Chorale at the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony held at the gazebo in downtown Hampton on Friday night.

HAMPTON -- Hundreds of people milled around the bandstand in Marelli Square in Hampton on Friday night to take part in the annual Christmas tree lighting kicking off the holiday season.

Families braved the chilly temperatures as they waited in long lines for a ride on a horse-drawn wagon from Ledgewood Farm in Epping, provided by Lloyd Perkins.

Lee Gies, of the Hampton Area Lions Club, was busy handing out candy canes Friday night. In all, there were six Lions doing the same thing.

"I come down to see the people and the kids, and everyone having a good time," Gies said.

Close by, the smell of popcorn drew people to the popcorn machine being manned by the Hampton Firefighters.

"This is a good thing for the kids," said Rusty Bridle. "Everybody loves popcorn."

"This is our third year," Bridle said. "It's good to just get out for the people."

At 7 p.m. sharp, a flick of a switch brought the Christmas tree to life, and the voices of the Hampton Community Chorale filled the air with songs of the season as a host of characters suddenly arrived on the scene. Soon, Santa Claus arrived, joined by other favorites such as Big Bird, Dora the Explorer, Eeyore, and "Arthur."

Mark and Michelle Cicale of Seabrook and their children, 11-month-old Kendra and 2½ year old Brianna, were enjoying listening to the soundtrack from "The Grinch." The music was provided by emcee Rachel Green of Hampton, a 2005 graduate of Winnacunet High School, who has done this every year since 2003.

"It's a great opportunity for a community get-together," Green said. "I love to hear the kids singing; It's something I look forward to every year."

Santa Claus shared his thoughts about the day's event.

"It's a nice crowd," Santa said, "but it's tough competing with the horses; no one wants to lose their place in the line," adding a jolly "Ho, Ho, Ho," to everyone he met.

Hampton Holds First Christmas Carnival

Residents Turn Out For Holiday Street Fair

Photos & Story by Nancy Rineman

Hampton Union, Tuesday, December 4, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Shelby Nicholson, 7, admires her new face painting.

HAMPTON -- With the temperature well below freezing and a biting Arctic chill dominating the day's weather, downtown Hampton was bustling and blustery Saturday afternoon as townspeople turned out for the community's first Christmas Carnival, offering entertainment, popular characters, and many sights and sounds of the season.

While the original plan for the event called for closing Lafayette Road from the High Street intersection to the Galley Hatch Restaurant area, Saturday's strong winds caused the carnival to be confined to the bandstand area instead, explained Dyana Martin, director of Hampton's Park and Recreation Department. Chamber of Commerce president Doc Noel agreed that the wind had a "big effect" on the original plans for the day.

Both the Recreation Department and the Hampton Chamber of Commerce coordinated the new venue following the cancellation of Hampton's annual Christmas parade.

Ebenezer Scrooge, readily recognized by all, strolled through the crowd, tipping his top hat and stopping to chat as he leaned on an ornate walking cane. Even for Scrooge, the day was unlike any other, as he doled out coins to all he met.

"Once in a while even Ebenezer Scrooge gets a little generous," he said, sounding eerily like the moderator for the Hampton Beach Village Precinct, Richard Reniere.

Todd Wellington, a former Hampton resident, was back in town to demonstrate his flaming torches juggling expertise. Wellington said he left Hampton in 1983 to go into the Army following his graduation from Winnacunnet High School. Now living in Lyndonville, Vt., Wellington is known as "The King of Silly." His wife, Andrea, dubbed "Dr. Luna Balloona," was the official face-painter on this day. Wellington pointed out that "everybody in the business" was at Hampton's carnival.

"These are the best," Wellington said, pointing to renowned magician B.J. Hickman, clowns, unicyclists and a host of others.

Hickman was braving the cold surrounded by a circle of admiring fans as he performed his nationally acclaimed magic act. Hickman is perhaps best known to Hampton residents for his many years at the Hampton Beach Children's Festival as well as at the Seafood Festival.

"This is the first time here in the winter time," Hickman said. Despite his amazing talent for magic tricks, Hickman admitted there was nothing he could do to chase away the frigid temperatures and driving winds Saturday.

Mary Beth Seekemp and her husband, Peter Spofford, came from Northwood, to participate in Hampton's first holiday street fair. Calling themselves the "Spoof Gabbling Circus," Seekemp was dressed festively in a white satin dress with a hoop skirt and a bright red and green fleece shawl, all handmade by her. Seekemp drove about the event on a unicycle rather than her usual stilts, due to the windy conditions on this day.

Molly Rowlee, 4, of Hampton, Kieran, 2, and their mother, Meighan, walked from the magic act back to the other activities. Molly said what she liked most was "seeing all the animals dressed up as people."

"I love Dora!" she exclaimed.

Dana Ferland, a chef at The Old Salt Restaurant, was introducing many passers-by to "chestnuts roasting" on an open fire, including two of Hampton's City Year team members, who joined in on the fun. City Year Team Hampton Service Leader Ryan Ouellette said he and his fellow team members were helping out with one of the games and were there "just to be out in the community."

Hampton resident Mark Ciolfi was at the carnival with his children, Daniel, 6, Anna, 8, and Jake, 3 years old.

"If it catches on, it'll be great," Ciolfi said, remembering other years when his family had been on the sidelines watching the Hampton Christmas Parade. For such a cold day, he said he thought organizers had done a great job.