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Candy, floats please crowd at annual Florence holiday parade

  • Kate Kelly and her son Matthew Liberatore, 2, of Florence watch a Melha Shriner clown pass by on a motorbike during the 29th annual Florence Holiday Parade on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Dressed as a miniature version of Santa, Rui Vale da Serra, 5, of Leeds, draws some attention from other spectators at the 29th annual Florence Holiday Parade on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Luca Igneri, 3, of Florence gets a first look at Santa Claus in the Florence Civic Center following the 29th annual Florence Holiday Parade on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. Behind him are his cousin Kellan Duso, 1 1/2, of Northampton, sister Liliana Igneri, 6, and cousin Emily Duso, 3. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Florence Community Band clarinetist Linda Davis-Delano, center, and trumpeter Gary Goss play “The Twelve Days of Christmas” while xylophonist Margot Thomas, far right, sings along as their group, under the direction of Priscilla Ross, far left, takes part in the 29th annual Florence Holiday Parade on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Katie Rosenblatt and her son, Harvey St. Martin, 2 1/2, of Northampton watch the 29th annual Florence Holiday Parade on Main Street on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Liliana Igneri, 6, of Florence has her picture taken with Santa Claus in the Florence Civic Center following the 29th annual Florence Holiday Parade on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Rui Vale da Serra, 5, of Leeds visits with Santa Claus in the Florence Civic Center following the 29th annual Florence Holiday Parade on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Rui Vale da Serra, 5, of Leeds waits to see Santa Claus in the Florence Civic Center following the 29th annual Florence Holiday Parade on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING



Staff Writer
Sunday, November 25, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — The high-pitched drone of bagpipes introduced the 29th annual Florence holiday parade on Saturday as the Veterans of Foreign Wars color guard led a caravan down Main St. that brought Santa Claus to town.

Following closely behind were Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz and Steven Connor, director of Central Hampshire Veterans’ Services, waving and smiling to the dozens of people lining up the streets on a clear, brisk morning.

Children scrambled for bits of candy tossed by parade marchers, and smiled as they received commemorative green and yellow buttons dedicated to veterans.

There were families gathered on the corner of North Main and North Maple Streets, and as the parade crossed the intersection, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” rang from speakers playing out of a van courtesy of The River radio station.

“I had fun!” said Ana Kumar, who rode on a float made by the Cloverdale Cooperative Nursery School. The float consisted of bales of hay, pine trees and an inflatable snowman being pulled along by a pickup truck.

Even though Kumar felt cold, she had hot chocolate aboard the float to keep her warm, she said. She was joined by her siblings Gabe and Micah on the float.

“I liked riding it and throwing candy to people,” Micah said.

Alexis Kumar, Ana’s mother, has walked in the parade in years prior with Cloverdale, she said.

As part of the parade, the Melha Shriners, a fraternal organization of Shriners Hospital for Children, drove small go-carts and motorcycles. About a dozen riders zig-zagged down the street and frequently drove in winding loops, much to the amusement of bystanders.

Mike Flynn, the parade’s coordinator, said Saturday’s weather was some of the best in recent years for the parade and said the Melha Shriners are “always crowd pleasers.”

“We’ve never had a bad day, really,” Flynn said as people thanked him for the event near the entrance to the Florence Civic Center, where the parade wrapped up.

“It was good!” said a group of children in unison that gathered outside the center, waiting for their chance to see Santa inside.

Khloe Lafountain said her favorite part was the candy she got from parade marchers.

Jake LaFountain brought a wish list of Christmas presents for Santa Claus and he said new Legos were at the top of his list.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com