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Sunday, November 27, 2016

‘Merry & Bright’ Holiday Stroll delights; More than 200 orbs of lights strung on downtown trees

By DEREK EDRY
Staff Writer

NASHUA - People from across New England gathered Saturday for the 23rd annual Holiday Stroll.

The enormously popular event brings thousands of people every year to downtown Nashua to celebrate the season and highlight downtown businesses. ...

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NASHUA - People from across New England gathered Saturday for the 23rd annual Holiday Stroll.

The enormously popular event brings thousands of people every year to downtown Nashua to celebrate the season and highlight downtown businesses.

This year's theme was "Merry and Bright," according to Great American Downtown Director Paul Shea.

"This year, the really big thing is the holiday lighting," Shea said. "We have over 200 orbs of lights in the trees throughout downtown. We also have over 40 pole-wrapped garlands in place now. Parks and Rec was out there with us in the snow pushing through, getting it done."

The annual event that began 23 years ago has grown into an epic Christmas kickoff with presentations of all sorts, beginning with a candlelight procession up Main Street to the city's decorated Christmas tree on display in front of the Hunt Memorial Building.

During the procession, Mayor Jim Donchess and Santa rode down Main Street in an old truck, stopping near the Hunt Memorial Building, where they lit the city's Christmas tree.

"The holiday stroll is a very exciting time," said Donchess. "I know all the businesses and downtown merchants really benefit from it, as well."

This year's gathering featured former "American Idol" singer Alex Preston, of Mont Vernon. Preston opened with an uplifting rendition of "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, who passed away Nov. 7.

Attractions included a multitude of local musical acts, a "Polar Express"-themed train ride and Pokemon themed-ice sculpture carving in front of City Hall.

Animated holiday graphics were projected onto the sides of three downtown buildings using computer-aided projectors and a sophisticated architectural mapping process.

There were also several food vendors throughout the area, selling everything from fried oreos to clam chowder.

Richard Fike, of Chelmsford, Mass., and Wayne Costello, of Lowell, Mass., both said the Holiday Stroll is a tradition for them every year.

"We love the stroll," said Fike. "We like Nashua, anyway, it's a very easy town to get around in, and there's a lot of great restaurants and venues, and this is just, sort of, a bonus with the festivities and all the activities."

Bob Michaud, who was dressed in a santa outfit with a necklace of Christmas lights around his neck, came down from Manchester for the event.

"I'm just having fun with the kids, getting dressed up and getting in the spirit," he said. "It just brings out the joy and happiness in everyone around you."

Derek Edry can be reached at 594-1243, dedry@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_Derek.