Take a big step into the holiday season with Nashua’s annual strollBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent November 22. 2017 2:39PM
The 24th annual Winter Holiday Stroll, hosted by Great American Downtown, is expected to attract big crowds to Nashua this weekend.
“Each year we anticipate about 30,000 to 35,000 people, depending upon the weather,” said Paul Shea, executive director of GAD.
Main Street temporarily will be closed for the festivities, which officially will begin with a 5 p.m. candlelit procession from City Hall to the Hunt Memorial Building.
Mayor Jim Donchess and Santa Claus will lead the way, and residents are encouraged to join in the procession, which also will include bagpiper Elias Alexander from the band Soulsha.
The crowd will watch as the city's Christmas tree - its tallest ever at 72 feet high - will be lit, and remain lit for the weeks leading up to Christmas.
“Over 75 performances will be taking place during the stroll,” said Shea, explaining live entertainment is planned at several downtown venues, including Bicentennial Park, City Hall Plaza, Court Street Theatre, Hunt Memorial Building, Nashua Public Library and the Masons Lodge, as well as several churches, restaurants and stores.
New this year is a Santa's Village area at 30 Temple St. from 1 to 4 p.m. The village will feature a Polar Express train ride, photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, a Santa-themed balloon display and more.
Local artists will have their work on display throughout the day, and during the evening there will be magicians, robotics displays, performances and other activities.
“This is the largest holiday celebration in southern New Hampshire for the holidays, and we always have a great time,” said Shea. “There is something for everyone.”
Performances will be taking place inside and outside of various downtown venues. In addition, there will be three-dimensional building projections and a craft fair.
A holiday tradition here, ice sculptures will be carved at City Hall Plaza, according to organizers.
“The theme for the ice sculptures this year is ‘Santa's Workshop,'” Shea said.
The Hunt Memorial Building will host its annual Festival of Trees event Friday through Sunday to coincide with the Winter Holiday Stroll. About 25 decorative trees will be on display.
A classic 1940 Ford fire truck owned by Bruce Stone of Firehouse Subs in Nashua will be featured during the kick-off procession.
North Pole safari rides also will be included in the festivities. Shea is encouraging participants to dress in layers to prepare for outdoor celebrations.
Some of the groups performing on Saturday include: The New Englanders, Merrimack Valley Flute Choir, Crescendo's Gate, New England Youth Singers, Granite Statesmen, Sonic Eclipse, Spare Soules, New England Voices in Harmony and Touche Taps, along with several dance groups.
Main Street will close at 3 p.m. Organizers are encouraging attendees to park at Rivier University or Holman Stadium, where shuttles will be on hand to transport people to the event. Shuttles will be operating until 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
For a schedule of events, visit downtownnashua.org/holidaystroll.