hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

March 21, 2012

Editorial: Watch that Route 125 work spares Santa Parade

Here we are in the first few days of spring. The weather is warm, the sun is bright and the trees are budding.

It's time to start thinking about Santa Claus.

That's right. Haverhill's annual Santa Parade is nine months away. But at least one city councilor is worried that the ongoing Route 125 reconstruction project will disrupt this important seasonal event.

The Santa Parade is one of the biggest events of the season for Haverhill. It is good to start working now to see that the event runs smoothly.

Councilor Sven Amirian said the construction project nearly interrupted last year's parade. After some last-minute road resurfacing by the state last November, the parade went off without a hitch.

Now Amirian is worried a similar problem may interfere with this year's parade. (See story, Page 1).

"The state was scrambling in the days leading up to the last parade to make sure the route itself and the sidewalks were safe for participants and onlookers," Amirian told reporter Mike LaBella. "There were no issues and the parade went on as planned. But I am concerned that there may be even bigger problems this fall, as this time around the roadway work will be much more extensive."

The $15 million state-funded public works project includes installing drain pipes and rebuilding South Main Street. The work is badly needed.

State highway officials say they are working with the city to assure the November parade is not disrupted.

"Our construction job will not be an issue with the Santa Parade," said Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for MassDOT. "We'll make every accommodation to be good neighbors and to pose the least possible disruption to the parade."

Amirian is not completely convinced.

"We reported back to the council that the issue has been resolved to our satisfaction," Amirian said. "Still, I'd rather err on the side of caution than trust completely that what they say is gospel."

For now, it appears that the Santa Parade will be spared any disruption. But this should be monitored as the summer progresses. By the time fall arrives, it should be clear whether the road will be ready for the November parade.

If it appears the road will not be ready, that will be the time to start pressuring the state to make good on its promise of no disruption to the Santa Parade.