By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL—The city’s Christmas tree will glow with 10,000 lights when it is turned on during the annual downtown Christmas Stroll Saturday. This year’s festivities are from 4 to 8 p.m. and will feature many new activities for children and adults. This is the 20th year for the stroll hosted by the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce Downtown Haverhill Committee.
In hopes of putting smiles on the faces of all who attend, organizers have a number of new surprises in store, including pony rides for kids, magic shows, a special photo booth spot that organizers are keeping under wraps, a professional laser light show and of course a visit from Santa, who will arrive with a bang. As a special offer, parking at the MVRTA garage on Granite Street is just $1 from 4 to 8 p.m. The fourth annual Penguin Pub Crawl will be held Friday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The Team Division is sold out, but the Individual Division is open and free to participate in. Entry forms are available at all participating establishments and must be dropped off at The Lasting Room on Washington Street no later than 9 p.m. on Friday. As with strolls of Christmases past, Washington and Merrimack Street up to How Street, Essex Street up to Wingate Street and Emerson Street from Washington Square to Bailey Boulevard will be closed to traffic during the stroll, providing walkers the opportunity to enjoy shopping, dining and the many activities featured this year.
A laser light show with synchronized holiday music takes place just prior to Santa’s 7:30 p.m. arrival in the square. And when Santa appears, it is sure to be a thrilling moment, organizers say.
Light poles along Washington Street and in Washington Square will be all dressed up with garland and red bows, courtesy of Bethany Homes.
The giant Christmas tree in Washington Square is decorated with 10,000 lights that were donated by Home Depot. The tree lighting takes place just after Santa’s appearance.
“Local businesses and volunteers stepped up in a big way to make this a memorable Christmas Stroll and hopefully one of the best attended in years,” said Jen Cantwell, vice president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.
On the main stage in Washington Square, emcee Matt Noyes will present a host of live entertainment leading up to the laser show, the evening’s premier event, and Santa’s arrival. Strolling carollers and musicians will be traveling between downtown businesses, which will be open for holiday shopping. Pony rides along with a special photo booth with holiday characters is at Haverhill Bank on Merrimack Street, and is something organizers say shouldn’t be missed. Santa’s Workshop is in the Pentucket Bank community room, and photos with Santa are at the Foto Factory on Essex Street.
Enjoy magic shows at Phoenix Row, which is next to the downtown bus station. A Talking Tree, always an attraction for children, is in Columbus Park. Hands-on activities for kids include gingerbread cookie decorating at the Sons of Italy Victor Emanuel Lodge, Story Time with Mrs. Claus is at Angles and Arts on Wingate Street, ornament making is at the Shops@90Wash, arts and crafts are at the Boys and Girls Club on Emerson Street, balloons are at Dr. Richard Jasiak’s office on Granite Street and cookie decorating and music by June Renner is at The Inside View on Granite Street. Major sponsors of this year’s stroll are Pentucket Medical Associates and Trinity EMS. Pony rides are sponsored by Haverhill Bank. Corporate sponsors are Covanta Energy and Smile Braces. Christmas lights are courtesy of Home Depot in Plaistow. Media sponsor is McDermott & Company Marketing. Bethany Homes provided garland and bows for downtown street lights. Lori and Dale Whittredge of Haverhill donated the giant Christmas tree.
On stage in Washington Square:
5 p.m. Haverhill Junior Idol Melissa Cepeda
5:20 p.m. Merrimack Valley Townsmen Chorus
5:40 p.m. All That Jazz Dance Studio
6 p.m.-St. James Church Chorus
6:20 p.m. Hampstead Chorus
6:40 p.m. Sax Pack saxophone group
7 p.m. -Gentlemen Songsters
7:20 p.m. Laser Light Show
7:35 p.m. Santa arrives
7:40 p.m.-Tree lighting provided by Home Depot and a Community Sing-Along
On stage in Washington Square 5 p.m.- Haverhill Junior Idol Melissa Cepeda 5:20 p.m.- Merrimack Valley Townsmen Chorus 5:40 p.m.- All That Jazz Dance Studio 6 p.m.- St. James Church Chorus 6:20 p.m.- Hampstead Chorus 6:40 p.m.- Sax Pack saxophone group 7 p.m.- Gentlemen Songsters 7:20 p.m.- Laser Light Show 7:35 p.m.- Santa arrives 7:40 p.m.- Tree lighting provided by Home Depot and a Community Sing-Along