The Portsmouth Holiday Parade rolled through the downtown on Saturday night with a dazzling array of colorful floats and high school marching bands that culiminated with the arrival of Santa Claus on the back of a Portsmouth Fire ladder truck.
More than 5,000 people braved the snow and cold temperatures to enjoy the city's signature holiday event that was preceded by a tree lighting ceremony in Market Square. At first, this part of the evening's itinerary didn't go exactly as planned when Mayor Eric Spear gave the signal for a group of city kids to flip the switch and the lights failed to come on.
But soon after the second try, some quick thinking by members of the Public Works Department remedied the situation just a few minutes later to yield a beautiful holiday tree.
High school marching bands from Portsmouth, Dover, Sanford, Maine, Traip Academy in Kittery, Maine and Spaulding High School in Rochester also entertained the crowd with their renditions of holiday classics.
The Rotary Club of Portsmouth, which is celebrating its 90th year of serving the local community, served as grand marshal of the “A Sharing Season” holiday parade, which also featured a food drive where parade spectators were invited to give canned goods to Portsmouth High School students who collected them with shopping carts.
The parade lasted a little more than an hour, but once again served as the perfect starting point for another fun holiday season in the city.
Following the parade, city officials announced the winners of the floats contest:
- Best use of illuminiation - Heinemann
- Mayor's Award - Custom Pools
- Best non-profit - New Hampshire Association for the Blind
- Best community - Portsmouth High School Eco Club
- Best commercial entry - National Wrecker
For those were unable to see the holiday parade, it will be broadcast on channel 22 at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8.