Annual Christmas Stroll Moves Focus Toward Eastern End of Downtown

Santa Claus and Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini complete the countdown leading to the lighting of the city Christmas tree in Washington Square. (Cheryl Soriano photograph for WHAV News.)

Covanta Business Manager Mark Van Weelden. (Cheryl Soriano photograph for WHAV News.)

With Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Santa Claus directing the spectacle, Haverhill lit the Washington Square Christmas tree Saturday night before a crowd of hundreds.

The tree lighting capped the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce’s 25th annual Christmas Stroll downtown. This year’s tree lighting was “powered by Covanta”—an apt description for the energy-from-waste company that generates 350,000 megawatts of electricity annually in Haverhill. Just before the lighting, Covanta Business Manager Mark Van Weelden explained that, in a very real sense, his company is illuminating Christmas.

“Tonight, we’re going to do something special. We’re going to take some kilowatts off that grid and power the tree.”

Van Weelden explained the company’s motives for supporting local events. “We enjoy events like this. It’s really about the children and it’s about bringing the community together,” he said.

The tree was donated this year by former City Councilor Kenneth Quimby. This year, with the revitalization of the east end of downtown Haverhill, the Chamber’s Beverly Donovan could hardly contain her enthusiasm.

“We grew it this year all the way down to Harbor Place. A lot of new things. We have pop-up shops and, in addition to doing our red ticket raffle on Wingate Street and Washington Street, a lot of new businesses downtown that got involved and decorated and took part so we’re really thrilled about that.”

City Councilor William Macek called the Christmas Stroll a great success. “This is really nice. It’s got a real spirit about it. The people that are down here are having fun. Great entertainment and it’s for all ages—kids are here, adults are here and everybody is enjoying it.”

Businesses also paired with local charities to double the benefit. Melinda Barrett, a city councilor and owner of like Barrett’s Specialty Foods, said the event helped the Friends of Haverhill Public Library, among other groups.

The Haverhill Bank Express shuttled visitors between Washington Square and White’s Corner. (WHAV News photograph.)

“We have a pop-up Friends Shop today. I’m on the board of directors of the Friends. They have traditionally done a pop-up shop off of Washington Square at Casablanca and this year, they did it here and I think they had a very good day,” Barrett said.

Haverhill Bank sponsored a trolley to shuttle visitors between Washington Square and White’s Corner, rising country star Thomasina Glenn and performers from Be Imagine Music Studio performed live music and street vendors sold food and holiday wares. Ron Carpenito of Keller Williams Realty served as master of ceremonies.

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