By James Niedzinski
---- — GLOUCESTER — Santa Claus is coming back to town — and in Gloucester’s case, the jolly fellow from the North Pole is arriving for a parade in his honor on Sunday.
The city’s annual Santa Claus Parade will make its way through downtown Gloucester Sunday, with former interim fire chief Philip Dench serving as the event’s grand marshal.
City Councilor Joe Ciolino, who serves as a prime parade organizer and runs The Weathervane store on Main Street, said the parade will follow its usual route, beginning from the Jodrey State Fish Pier on Parker Street, carrying up Main Street and crossing Washington Street before heading down Western Avenue and concluding with the lighting of Gloucester’s holiday tree and caroling at Kent Circle.
Parade participants are asked to start forming Sunday at 2 at the fish pier, with the parade stepping off at 3 and the tree lighting and other Kent Circle ceremonies due at around 4:30.
Gloucester High School’s JR ROTC chapter will lead the parade, and Ciolino said the parade will offer many old favorites and new faces this year, featuring around 15 floats.
The judges for this year’s parade float competitions will be new Police Chief Leonard Campanello and his wife Allyson, new fire chief Eric Smith and his wife Laurie, and the city’s new Veterans Agent, Richard Barbato.
”This is a great way for our new community members to show their faces,” Ciolino said.
As always, one of the most important element of the Santa Parade will be the children, Ciolino said.
The St. Ann School is just one of the schools participating in the festivities and Ciolino said a local character known as Scuba Jack is set to make an appearance.
Giving back to the children is also a central focus on this years parade.
Toys for Tots makes a return to the parade this year, and people are encouraged to bring toys to the parade.
”When residents see the pink elephant float, they will know it’s time to donate,” Ciolino said.
Santa Claus and his wife will be arrive by fire engine and will be available to listen to Christmas wishes after the parade ends at Kent Circle.
”It’s just a great opportunity for kids to drink hot cocoa, eat popcorn, and celebrate the holidays,” Ciolino said.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.