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  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Mayor Donalee Lozeau rips the ribbon off of the front door of The Hunt Building during the reopening of the building at the 2011 Winter Holiday Stroll in Nashua, Saturday evening.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Meri Goyette, left and Paul Tringoson talk with one another moments before Santa Claus enters the newly renovated Hunt Building in Nashua, Saturday evening. The building had just been reopened during the 2011 Winter Holiday Stroll after a lengthy renovation.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    ray Deraeault, of New England Novelty, refills a bucket full of light up toys during Saturday evening's 2011 Winter Holiday Stroll
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Workers busily tear into blocks of ice to form sculptures during Saturday's 2011 Winter Holiday Stroll in Nashua.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Over 30,000 people were expected to attend the 2011 Winter Holiday Stroll, Saturday evening. This photograph illustrates the vast amount of people on Main Street looking North from Water Street early Saturday evening.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    People congregate on City Hall Plaza to watch as ice sculptures begin to take shape, Saturday evening during the 2011 Winter Holiday Stroll in Nashua.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Butch Kierstead, right, hands Gary and Hannah Bathalon a couple of lit candles during Saturday evening's 2011 Winter Holiday Stroll on Main Street in Nashua.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Joaquin Martinez looks closely at a candle before blowing it out, Saturday evening. After using the candles during the tree lighting, passers-by planted their candles in the flower boxes on the Main Street bridge.
  • Staff photo by GRANT MORRIS

    James Francoeur looks down into a taster glass of wine after taking a sip Saturday evening at Wine Not on Main Street in Nashua. Thousands decended on Downtown Nashua to take part in the 2011 Winter Holiday Stroll.
Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hunt Building renovation debuts at warmer-than-usual Holiday Stroll

NASHUA – On a day that was beginning to feel a lot like springtime, thousands of carolers celebrated the start of the holiday season Saturday evening at the Winter Holiday Stroll.

When the mayor flipped the ceremonial switch outside the Hunt Building, the 25-foot tree came to colorful life.

The tree is the smallest in the 18 years of the stroll, city officials said. The crowd, however, was as large as ever, extending from the Hunt well down Main Street, which, along with side streets, was closed to traffic.

Instead of cars, Main Street was congested with families carrying candles, waving glowsticks, enjoying live music or munching on sausage sandwiches. Most revelers wore light sweaters or jackets, and a few sported short sleeves, a remnant of temperatures that hit the 60s earlier in the afternoon.

The stroll is sponsored each year by Great American Downtown. After operating in the red for years, the event turned a profit for the first time in its past few appearances under the direction of Sue Butler, the GAD executive director who left the position recently.

The stroll this year featured an early glimpse of the refurbished Hunt Building, renovated through about $1 million dollars of mostly public money.

Standing on the steps of the 109-year-old former library that gave the Library Hill portion of Main Street its name, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau tipped her cap to the Hunt Building trustees before introducing Santa Claus, who soon would greet children inside.

Lozeau also gave kudos to the weather.

“I don’t feel bad that anybody’s freezing tonight while we pontificate about how great this is,” Lozeau said to the crowd.

Families with children lined the sidewalk down to Railroad Square waiting to enter the Hunt to see Santa – and to get an early peek at the renovations.

The line was long, and Lozeau told people without kids they’d have to wait to see the new Hunt interior.

“We’ll see you in January,” when a formal open house is scheduled, Lozeau said.

Stefanie Deihle and her entourage were the first in line. Deihle, her sister, Staci Therrien, friend Bridget Lippert and the eight children they brought with them posed for photos with Santa and with a trimmed Christmas tree in the lobby.

Although all now live in Milford, Deihle said she grew up in Nashua. The stroll reminds her of old block parties she enjoyed in the city, Deihle said.

“This is the Santa we go to see, not the Santa at the mall,” Deihle said.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com.