A-1 Deli owner, Robert Meidanis does not see any benefit to his business from the parade.
“It would kill me,” he said about rerouting the parade down Merrimack Street. “Leave it alone. It would not help my business. Leave it the way it is.’’
Across the river in Bradford along South Main Street, merchants support the parade, some of them sponsoring the event. They almost demand that the parade march past their doors.
“I don’t get any business from it, but it’s a tradition,’’ said David Langlois owner of Ohdaddy’s restaurant at 125 South Main St. “People line the street out front to see this once-a-year event. Families get together for this. It’s four hours of a good time for everyone. You can’t beat that,”
By the time the parade goes through Bradford, Pat Saragas the owner of Heav’nly Donuts at 55 South Main St. in Bradford, has done a healthy business.
“I have stores everywhere and this is good for my stores, good for my business,” he said.
People watch the parade from inside his store as it goes by and stay for a while, maybe for a coffee and a doughnut.
“People have to remember the parade is totally sponsored by the public and business community,’’ said Thomas Sullivan, whose father created the parade.
The ability of organizers to make ends meet depends on the public and is also “a testament to businesses in the Haverhill area,’’ Sullivan said.
Some time between 1964 and 1985 the organizers changed from the original route through downtown to the current route through Bradford Square along Route 125 over the Basiliere Bridge and up Main Street to Monument Square. There it follows Route 110 to the VFW building at 64 Kenoza Ave.
The original parade route started downtown and stayed in the city as it wound its way up Winter and Emerson streets onto Route 110 and then to the VFW on Kenoza Avenue.