For First Time in 55 Years, VFW Cancels Annual Santa Parade Because of Pandemic and Rules

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

For the first time in more than 50 years, Santa Claus won’t be greeting tens of thousands of fans along a Haverhill parade route, but it takes more than a pandemic to keep St. Nick away.

Like many public events during 2020, officials have cancelled what would have been this November’s 56th Annual VFW Santa Parade. Daniel P. Plourde Sr., chairman of the Lorraine Post 29 VFW Santa Parade Committee, said the traditional event is just not feasible this year.

“Sadly, 55 consecutive years of VFW Santa Parades, the 56th annual will not occur this year in light of all that’s going on with COVID-19 and the safety guidelines, and social distancing just would not work obviously with a crowd of that magnitude,” he told WHAV.

Plourde said, however, Santa and the whole North Pole team are pretty resilient.

“We are in discussions as a committee on the possibility of a much smaller scale event and something that, we believe, will also contribute to the community and hopefully help some folks out also in this time of need with COVID-19. There’ll be more to come on that as we get the details sorted out and make some decisions on it all,” he said.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Lorraine Post 29, started the parade in 1964, led by the late John T. “Sully” Sullivan. Sullivan, also the city’s veterans services officer for many years, began the event partly to showcase the VFW’s drum corps.

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