Christmas Procession Unifies the Community
By Nancy Rineman
Hampton Union, Tuesday, December 04, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Winnacunnet High School football players show off their Division II title trophy as they march in Saturday's Christmas parade.
[Ioanna Raptis Photo]
HAMPTON -- Hampton's legendary Christmas parade boasted all the elements of the season Saturday, on a cold snowy day that had viewers dressed in their warmest winter clothes.
As crowds lined Route 1 from North Hampton to downtown Hampton, music filled the air in Marelli Square, where people truly were "walking in a winter wonderland."
At the crossroads of Lafayette Road and High Street, families huddled together in anticipation of the hour-long tribute to the season, beginning, as usual, with fire departments from near and far, sounding their sirens to announce the parade's arrival.
Jeff Schick and his wife, Leigh, and daughters Kiari and Anika were among those heralding the official start to the season.
"Hampton is a charming and quaint little New England town," Schick said, adding that the winter weather was "living up to its name."
Children, and some adults as well, covered their ears as equipment from Hampton, Portsmouth, Exeter, Stratham and beyond waved to the growing crowds.
It was a festive, musical tribute to the Seacoast that wended its way along Lafayette Road. The Hampton Academy Choral Group was one of many who braved the inclement weather and relentless frigid temperatures that hovered in the mid 20's most of the day.
The sound of bagpipes filled the air with the North Shore Pipe Band and NHPA Pipes & Drums among many showcasing their talents.
Winnacunnet High School's JROTC joined other WHS entries parading through town, and the crowd cheered appreciatively as the champion Warrior football team rolled by, followed later by the Winnacunnet marching band.
It was a day saluting the canine population, it appeared, with pet supply businesses and dog rescue organizations marching to the beat of "Joy to the World." A Sheep Dog rescue endeavor marched with several shaggy four-legged friends and was rewarded with a warm welcome from parade watchers of all ages.
Young karate students stopped for a performance by the Hampton gazebo, followed by the thrills provided by a unicycle team of two that wowed onlookers.
Kyrstal Totman watched the parade with daughters Breanna Greene, age 7, and Khloe Greene, 19 months old, who was all bundled up in her stroller.
Breanna said her favorite part of the parade was seeing Santa Claus, and she was hoping that Santa would bring her a Furby.
Amy Bisiewicz and Amy Sullivan and children Aidan Sullivan, 3, and Alexandra Sullivan, 6, traveled from Newburyport, Mass. to see the Hampton Christmas Parade.
Aidan was enjoying a creamsicle, despite the cold, a gift from the owner of Greg's Pizza who passed them out to people stepping inside the restaurant for a brief respite from the weather.
"It was magical with the snow," Bisiewicz said. "It was the first time we've been to Hampton's Christmas parade and I think we discovered a true gem."
Experience Hampton Inc., formed in recent years to organize events such as the Hampton Christmas Parade, was praised by many community members Saturday, including Hampton Chamber of Commerce Director of Membership Development Pat Morgenstern.
"I think it showed that the spirit of Experience Hampton's members constantly works to unify the community," Morgenstern said.
Those feelings were echoed by Ginni McNamara, director of special events for the Chamber.
"I saw a lot of people come out for the parade despite the inclement weather," McNamara said. "Everyone was filled with joy."