New Downtown Route This Year for 54th Annual VFW Santa Parade

Santa greets Haverhill residents along the parade route in 2017. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)

A view of last year’s 53rd annual VFW Santa Parade. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)

There’s a little twist, literally, coming to the annual VFW Santa Parade and it’s a left turn.

When the 54th Annual VFW Santa Parade takes place the Sunday before Thanksgiving, its route will still begin at the Bradford Fire Station, but it will turn onto Merrimack Street when it gets downtown. Committee Chairman Daniel Plourde gives WHAV listeners an idea of what to expect.

“The parade will leave the fire station as it always has. It will travel down South Main Street, over the Basiliere Bridge and then turn left on to Merrimack Street. All the way down to Washington Square and then turn right onto Emerson and disband at the Boys (and Girls) Club on the corner of Emerson and Bailey,” Plourde said.

Previously, the Santa Parade continued up route 125 and turned onto Kenoza Avenue where the former VFW headquarters was located, and a parade after party once took place. Plourde said city department heads agree with the change and it received an endorsement from Haverhill Police.

“They were all for the change because it would simplify how many streets they have to block off and it would change the way they reroute 125 traffic flow,” he said.

The parade chairman said he believes the spectacle will be welcomed by downtown businesses. “When the parade used to go on, they used to have to block off Merrimack Street completely. So, at least now there will be spectators all along the route to watch the parade.”

In fact, the new route inspired a new theme for this year’s event, “Miracle on Merrimack Street.”

Float and parade participant applications will be available online at beginning Sept. 16. Organizers also meet monthly and are looking for volunteers. The next meeting takes place Monday, Sept. 24, 7 p.m., at Bradford Country Club. Those interested in helping may also email [email protected] or leave a message at 978-373-3777.

New HQ For VFW?

Speaking of the VFW headquarters, Haverhill city councilors Tuesday night agreed to study a proposal by VFW Lorraine Post 29 to renovate an abandoned, city-owned house at Clement Farm, 1314 Main St.

Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan explained the property was split several years ago, leaving the American Legion Wilbur M. Comeau Post 4 with the clubhouse in the rear of the lot. The front house on the lot could be used for VFW offices and transitional housing for returning veterans. The idea has been sent to the Council’s Natural Resources and Public Property Committee.