Santa Parade marches on, even in rough weather

Waving to kids and wishing them happy holidays, Santa Claus rode a firetruck instead of his usual sleigh for the Downtown Associates of North Attleborough’s 67th annual Santa Parade, held on Sunday, Nov. 27. Staff Photos by Adam Bass
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The Grinch, a normally grouchy person, throws candy to the children.

The wind and rain swept across South Washington Street on an otherwise gloomy day.

To the hundreds of people watching the 67th annual Santa Parade, however, the weather did not spoil their merriment.

The parade, organized by the Downtown Associates of North Attleborough (DANA), was held on Nov. 27, featured a wide array of vehicles ranging from North Attleborough Police, military vehicles, a forklift owned by the Department of Public Works, and even a fire truck carrying a very special person: Santa Claus.

As the vehicles drove down the street, an ensemble from the Starline School of Dance followed suit, with onlookers cheering and clapping at the performance.

Attleboro native Paul Flynn said this was the eighth Santa Parade he has attended, and even in stormy weather, he was excited to spend time with family and friends.

“We’re enjoying this day with the kids,” Flynn said. “Their favorite part is when the people in the cars throw candy out to them.”

Indeed, sweets and treats were given away during the parade. Children ran to catch candy thrown from vehicles by local business owners or from Christmas characters such as Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and even the ever-so-grouchy Grinch from Dr. Suess’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

A contest was held to determine the best float of the event. The Encore Dance Academy won first place, with The Friends of North Attleborough Dog Park and the Starline Dance Academy coming in second and third respectively.

Judging the event was Dr. Shelia Fisher, United Regional Chamber of Commerce President Jack Lank, and CEO of the Hockomock YMCA, Jim Downs.

Additionally, elected officials participated in the parade, including Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson, Rep. Adam Scanlon (D-North Attleborough), and members of the Town Council.

Students of the Starline School of Dance perform to the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” one of many participants in the parade, held on Nov. 27.

State Sen. Paul Feeney (D-Foxboro) said this parade was his first, as he now represents North Attleborough due to redistricting. Feeney said he loved the parade, and that it embodied the spirit of community.

“Oh I love it,” he said. “I have to be more of a part of it next year.”

Up and down South Washington Street, adults and children alike danced to Christmas carols and holiday songs while the smell of hot chocolate drifted through the air. At the Bristol Lodge, Town Councilor Annie Slobogan was seen wearing an elf costume and greeting friends and customers to the Kringle Market.

“It is so lively here,” Slobogan said as she walked by vendors touting their crafts. “There is so much to do and see at this mart and it’s encouraging to see people interested.”

Town Manager Michael Borg, who also marched in the parade, said the holiday spirit was so strong in North Attleborough that even a rainstorm would not dampen the jubilation. He said this was one of the best parades he had ever seen during his time as town manager.

“It’s such a great day to be in North Attleborough,” Borg told a crowd. “Even if it is raining.”

Every year, a Grand Marshall is selected by the DANA executive board to lead the parade. Former Town Councilor Joan Cathcart was chosen as this year’s marshal with overwhelming support, according to DANA President Maureen Merigold.

Cathcart, who resigned from her role earlier this year, had friends and family march in her honor. Those present included her husband Richard Cathcart, daughter Laura Fontaine with her husband and children, and her sister Patti Porier.

“We were all raised here, and her loyalty is strong,” Merigold said of Cathcart. “She has been so true to the town for her service not just in town council, but in public office.”

As the parade finished its route, Cathcart’s granddaughter, Charlotte Fontaine, walked with a crowd of people as she approached the Town Common for the traditional Christmas Tree lighting. Fontaine, along with Merigold and Santa Claus, all pressed the special button that lit up five different trees across the green.

Merigold took a video of the occasion and said while Cathcart was not able to be present, she will receive the video and be part of the festival virtually.

“For everyone living in North Attleborough, this is a heartwarming event,” she said. “All these trees have been waiting for this lighting for a long time.”