LOWELL — Although temperatures in Lowell were warm compared to what he’s used to up north, Santa Claus still wore his usual red jacket with white fur trim and matching hat during the City of Lights parade on Saturday.
Jolly Old Saint Nick mentioned the rear of the parade, as he sat in his sleigh, which, instead of being pulled by Rudolph and the rest of the flying reindeer, was pulled along the route by a Department of Works truck. Public.
Before the parade began Saturday afternoon, Mayor Sokhary Chau predicted a large crowd for this year’s City of Lights festival, known as Lowell’s most joyous holiday event.
The mayor’s prediction was spot on, as thousands of people lined the sidewalks along the parade route, which began on Jackson Street, turned onto Central Street, then onto Merrimack Street, before concluding at City Hall.
“You will see people from all walks of life today,” Chau said. “Different age groups, different neighborhoods. I believe that the city is based on traditions and it is very important for all of us to continue this tradition, for us and for our children”.
Saturday’s crowd numbers almost certainly added to sunny, mostly blue skies, along with temperatures that stayed in the 50s all afternoon.
The nearly 70-year-old festival was held last year after taking 2020 off due to the coronavirus pandemic. Caitlin Gudewich, of Lowell, who attends the parade every year with her family, said there was a clear increase in attendance on Saturday compared to last year’s festival performance.
“More crowds, better weather, and the parade seemed to have more going on,” Gudewich said.
Nicole Ross, who captains the Lowell Chapter of The Salvation Army with her husband, Timothy Ross, agreed with Gudewich’s sentiment. The local Salvation Army participates in the parade each year, according to Nicole Ross, who said Saturday’s attendance reflected the festival’s numbers before the break.
“We’re coming back,” he said. “It feels good. We started the season well.”
In addition to Santa Claus and the Salvation Army, the colorful and musical parade included the Grinch driving a school bus, school marching bands, vintage cars, holiday floats, and members of the Lowell Kinetic Sculpture Race, who were on hand with several unique pieces of artwork. manageable art.
Although it was a big part of the event, the festival offered much more than the parade.
Throughout the day, visitors could stroll the downtown streets to listen to Victorian Christmas carols, bid on wreaths, make crafts, and even watch the Christmas movie “Frozen.”
The day also showcased talent from downtown businesses like Little Delights Bakery, which hosted a holiday cookie decorating workshop. In addition, several restaurants participated in a hot chocolate contest.
“The restaurants are ready to go and we are so excited to show off downtown in all the glitz, glam and, most importantly, merry of the holiday season,” said City Manager Tom Golden.
Joann Gunby and her husband, Craig Furgal, owners of Gormley’s Cafe, located on Market Street, were one of the shops vying for the title of best hot chocolate in Lowell.
Gunby and Furgal were busy handing out shot glass-sized mugs of hot chocolate, with whipped cream on top, to the groups of people who came to try their recipe on Saturday afternoon. According to Gunby, they offered a ginger-based hot chocolate, made by Furgal, the chef at Gormley’s Cafe.
“I love it,” Gunby said of the festival. “I love everything that makes people go downtown and walk. It’s a nice and fun family event for everyone.”
The festival concluded, after the parade, with city officials and Santa Claus himself counting down with the crowd before flipping the switch to turn on Wannalancit’s town hall and chimney Christmas tree. The sea of people gathered around JFK Plaza let out a standing ovation as the Christmas lights came on and shone down on them.
“Having a ceremony like this in the city of Lowell invites everyone to celebrate together,” Chau said. “It’s a unifying event and it gets everyone into the holiday spirit and gives everyone a sense of community.”
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis