Thanksgiving is a weekand a half away, but Gloucester's downtown business community is already gearing up for the day Santa Claus will return to town.
The 41st annual Downtown Gloucester Christmas Parade, a local tradition that annually serves to kick off the holiday shopping season, is slated for Sunday, Dec. 1, with Santa once again joining the line of marchers and the tree-lighting ceremony the same afternoon at Kent Circle, the crossroads of Western and Essex avenues.
That means it's time for groups to start organizing floats and plans to march on Dec. 1, said Joe Ciolino. The former Gloucester city councilor and owner of the Weathervane gift shop heads up the Gloucester Downtown Association, which sponsors the event.
The floats will begin lining up Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. at the Jodrey State Fish Pier on Parker Street and the parade steps off at 3 o'clock. The theme for this year's parade is simply "holiday," Ciolino said.
Bands already scheduled to participate include the O'Maley Innovation Middle School band, which will be sponsored by the Gloucester Rotary Club in honor of member and longtime Santa's helper Rudy Macchi. The march will also include the Gloucester High School Docksiders, sponsored by the Institution for Savings, the Boston Firemen's Band and the Roaming Railroad. Santa will ride a city Fire Department ladder truck at the end of the march.
After leaving the fish pier, the parade will, as always, follow Main Street all the way through Tally's Corner to Western Avenue and Kent Circle for the tree lighting, which will begin at about 4 p.m. There, children will also be able to visit with Santa for photos and let him know of their gift ideas. Those who attend the Kent Circle ceremonies will also be invited to sign holiday cards that will be sent to U.S. troops overseas.
Ciolino noted that the downtown association is in the midst of raising money to provide support for the event.
"We still need support to pay for bands and to be able to give out trophies to groups who create the wonderful floats that add so much local color to the event," he said. "We need your help in making the parade a success."
The Downtown Christmas Parade has asked the Gloucester Fund to manage all donations, which are 100% tax-deductible, he said. Anyone wishing to send a check in support of the parade should make them payable to The Gloucester Fund, c/o The Weathervane, 153 Main St., Gloucester, MA 01930. Anyone sending a check should note "Santa Parade" on the memo line.
"Please help us keep this wonderful Gloucester tradition alive," Ciolino said, "for the children of Gloucester and all the residents who line the parade route to ring in the holiday season."
Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or email@example.com.
HOW TO HELP
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 them payable to The Gloucester Fund, c/o The Weathervane, 153 Main St., Gloucester, MA 01930. Checks should note "Santa Parade" on the memo line.