24th annual Winter Holiday Stroll draws thousands

Adam Urquhart Thousands gathered on Main Street in downtown Nashua Saturday evening for the annual Winter Holiday Stroll. People look on as the city’s official tree was lit.

NASHUA – The 24th annual Winter Holiday Stroll drew thousands to downtown Nashua for what’s recognized as the largest community event of the year in Southern New Hampshire.

Taking place every year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, this tradition started off small and grew to involve tens of thousands of local and state residents.

Main Street was shut down as masses of people made their way down the main thoroughfare to watch as the 72-foot tall Christmas tree became alive with thousands of holiday lights.

People gathered around City Hall starting at 4:30 p.m. to get ready for the candlelit procession, led by Santa Claus, that runs from the local seat of government to Railroad Square, where city’s official lit the Christmas tree a little after 5 p.m. As the lighting of the tree approached, a countdown could be heard up and down Main Street. St. Nicholas arrived with Mayor Jim Donchess, and after a few brief words, the chant began. As people called out three, two, one, the city’s largest-ever Christmas tree lit up the sky for all to see.

Donchess thanked those involved with putting the event together as well as those in attendance.

“It’s a great night for businesses, and it’s great for the city and downtown,” Donchess said.

Strollers enjoyed lots of live entertainment spread across multiple venues, grabbing a bite to eat from food trucks, dining at downtown restaurants and shopping at local stores.

“I think this is great. People are brought to downtown, and it allows people to come together for the night and have fun,” Dave Tencza, of Nashua, said.

He and his family come intermittently, but he said they wouldn’t miss it this year with how nice the weather was, noting how some were wearing shorts while others came out wearing sweatshirts.

“There’s probably more performances than I’ve seen in the past,” Tencza said.

Live music filled the air alongside the smell of fried foods being offered from the many food trucks that lined Main Street. After watching the tree lighting, people headed back toward the vendors, stopping in to see all that was offered at this year’s event.

Whether a first timer or returning for another year of holiday fun, the streets were packed with families, friends and children getting into the holiday spirit.

“We come every year,” Karen Smith, of Nashua, said.

She came with her husband, and they both agreed that they love this annual community event.

She said she likes looking in the different shops, and when they reached the tree in front of the Hunt Memorial Building, her husband, Jeff, admired looking behind him and seeing the big crowd that swarmed Main Street.

“There’s definitely a lot of people here,” Karen Smith said.

After agreeing that the event for them means togetherness, Jeff said, “It starts off everything for the holidays.”

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.