No speeches, politics at parade, tree lighting

MIKE SPRINGER/Staff file photoCamden Raasch, 4, and his nine-month-old brother, Logan, pose with Santa Claus as their mother, Kerry Elliott, takes a photo during a past Christmas tree lighting at Kent Circle in Gloucester. This year's tree lighting will held after the annual Christmas Parade, which begins at 3 p.m., and should end about 4 p.m Sunday at the circle.

The annual Gloucester Santa Parade is getting ready to set the holiday stage for children of all ages when it starts its procession from Jodrey State Fish Pier this Sunday, Dec. 1, at 3 p.m.

The parade ends at Kent Circle, at the intersection of Essex and Western avenues, where there will be music and opportunities for photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. But this year, the tree lighting will be a bit different. There will be no formal speeches or stage erected, and the judges will give out the awards from the judges float, which will be moved onto the green.

Other than that, organizers plan for the usual festive nature of this annual event.

Linzee Coolidge of Gloucester will lead the parade as the 2019 Grand Marshal, said Joe Ciolino, one of the organizers.

“Linzee continues the Christmas spirit all year round, with his philanthropic giving to the Cape Ann community,” Ciolino said. “We wanted to honor him because he has done so much for the city and we are very grateful to him.”

Coolidge and his late wife have provided significant gifts through the Dusky Foundation and the Belinda Fund charitable organizations to The Open Door, Cape Ann Animal Aid, Addison Gilbert Hospital, the Gloucester Fishermen’s Athletic Association and its restoration of Gloucester High School’s Newell Stadium, and the Cape Ann YMCA for its building fund for a new home on the Fuller School site, among other organizations.

The tree once again comes from Nova Scotia, this year from the Harris Christmas Tree Farm in the town of Lower Ohio, among the communities in the Municipality of the District of Shelburne.

This year Ringo Tarr and Nick Curcuru traveled the roughly 600 miles to Nova Scotia to pick up the tree.

Tarr explained that in exchange for the tree, the Topsfield Fair in recent years has donated money for the Canadian community to purchase small trees from a nearby nursery that will adorn their main street for the holidays.

“The only thing the Harris Christmas Tree Farm asked in return for their donation of the tree was to have this tree donated in memory of the late owner, Michael Harris, who died in January of this year,” Tarr said.

In that similar spirit, Tarr hoped that this year’s Kent Circle gathering after the Santa parade would be in honor of his late wife, Cathy Tarr, who died just weeks ago on Nov. 1.

As for the parade and Kent Circle gathering, Ciolino, who calls himself the “chief elf,” said the music from the bands is an important part of these events. 

The featured bands are the Docksiders, sponsored by the Institution for Savings; the O’Maley Innovation Middle School band, sponsored by Gloucester Rotary Club in honor of the late Rudy Macchi; and the Boston Fireman’s Band, organized by Gloucester’s David Benjamin.

“The music sets the tone,” Ciolino said. “This is a holiday parade, with no political statements — there’s already too much politics in our lives. This is for the children. I want everybody to feel good and that’s what the parade is all about. It’s about being together and getting the season started.”

Ciolino noted that each year he is thankful for the efforts of many people who make it happen and for the support he sees along the parade route.

“What amazes me is that after we take off from Parker Street, we go past Pratty’s and they come out of that bar and the looks on their faces, they are like little kids. We go by many bars and when we go by the Crow’s Nest, they are all outdoors watching too,” he said. “No matter how old you are, it all reminds us of our childhood, of a happy time.”

Ciolino said the parade usually arrives at Kent Circle about an hour after it starts. At the circle, the judges will award first, second and third place for the floats in addition to an honorable mention.

Also at the circle, he said the Girl Scouts will do some singing as will some student actors from Gloucester Stage Company’s Youth Acting Workshop. The Gloucester Rotary’s Polio Bear also will be part of the festivities.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at


Gloucester’s annual Santa Parade will step off Sunday, Dec. 1, at 3 p.m. Organizers have asked the Gloucester Fund to manage all donations, which are 100% tax-deductible. Anyone wishing to send a check in support of the parade should make it payable to The Gloucester Fund, c/o The Weathervane, 153 Main St., Gloucester, MA 01930. Checks should note “Santa Parade” on the memo line.

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