By Bill Cantwell
---- — The holidays are right around the corner.
Turkey dinners with the family gathered around the table. Parties with friends and co-workers. Gift exchanges capped off by the arrival of Santa.
As if that’s not enough, the Red Sox won the World Series for the third time in the last decade.
What’s that got to do with the holidays?
It will be front and center at this year’s annual VFW Santa Parade, which will wind through Haverhill on Sunday, Nov. 24.
As thousands of people from Haverhill and neighboring communities pack the parade route for the city’s biggest social event of the year, the parade will feature the huge Red Sox Bootmobile— possibly with a player from the team on board. It is the same vehicle that was part of the Red Sox rolling rally in Boston after the team won the championship.
City Councilor Thomas Sullivan, a longtime parade organizer, said this year’s parade committee is working to get a Sox player to join the festivities in Haverhill to give the event a special sense of excitement. The bootmobile is designed by the LL Bean company.
But even if a Red Sox player is not in the parade, there will be plenty for people to enjoy, both along the route and in Haverhill’s neighborhoods, where the tradition of family parties will continue, Sullivan said.
“It’s a day when families and friends get together to gather along the route and at people’s homes,’’ he said. “It’s a big party day. Many people who have moved away return just for this day to see their friends and family.’’
Sullivan is proud of the tradition of the parade, which was founded by his father, the late John Sullivan, who organized it for many years.
“This is the longest-running annual event in the city of Haverhill, 49 years and running,’’ Sullivan said. “We’re very proud to hold that distinction.’’
The cost of the parade this year, which involves payments to bands and other performers, is $35,000, organizers said. Several days ago, they were still more than $10,000 short of raising that total. There will be a collection drive during the parade.
“People have to remember the parade is totally sponsored by the public and business community,’’ Sullivan said. The ability of organizers to make ends meet depends on the public and is also “a testament to businesses in the Haverhill area,’’ he said.
Despite adding a special Red Sox tone to the parade, the overall theme of the event will be traditional — “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.’’
St. Nick will arrive on the parade’s final float as always, but before him people will enjoy more than 25 other floats and more than a dozen marching bands. The parade marshal will be Dave McGillivray, race director of the Boston Marathon.
IF YOU GO
What: 49th annual VFW Santa Parade
When: Sunday, Nov. 24, starting at 1 p.m.
Where: The parade starts near Hunking School and the Bradford Fire Station on South Main Street (Route 125), continues on South Main Street to Basiliere Bridge, crosses the bridge and goes up Main Street to Monument Square, and turns onto Kenoza Avenue, ending at the VFW.