57th Annual VFW Santa Parade Sunday Offers Opportunities to Celebrate, Participate and Give

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

The 57th Annual VFW Santa Parade takes place Sunday afternoon with Grand Marshal Donald Jarvis taking the lead and followed by Hallamore Clydesdales, more than a dozen marching bands, color guards, emergency vehicles, school and business floats, cheerleaders and, of course Santa Claus.

During an interview broadcast live over WHAV, Daniel Plourde Sr., parade chairman, said the Clydesdales were one of the top choices he hoped would participate in the parade.

“We had heard from the Clydesdales earlier this summer, because we had sent out a feeler to see who would be interested, and they said they weren’t going to perform anywhere all season, and then two or three weeks ago they sent us a letter saying they would be interested in performing in our parade. So, we got very lucky on that. They are always a big draw. Everybody loves the Clydesdales,” he said.

Even though the parade is free to watch, fundraising takes place to pay expenses.

“That’s always the case. The Clydesdales we have to pay for, all of the marching groups, all of the musical performers and a few other groups we have to pay. We have an annual budget of $45,000 approximately and that’s all through donations, through the business community and through the general public, and we will be running a collection during the parade also. And, this year we have something new. We are actually going to take Venmo. We have QR codes on the side of the collection wagon so we are hoping that will help that number out a little bit,” Plourde said.

The VFW Santa Parade is supported by the public and the business community. It is not sponsored or paid by the city.

There are also plenty of opportunities to assist community causes in this first full Santa Parade since the worldwide coronavirus pandemic began. These needs include Covanta accepting U.S. flags for proper retirement and separate drug takeback program, the 23rd Annual Betsy Conte Food Drive, a toy drive to benefit Ozzie’s Kids, Haverhill Lions Club collection of used eyeglasses and more.

Emphasizing a sense of normality, the parade is themed “Santa Claus IS Coming to Town.” Specialist Jarvis, grand marshal, served his country in the Massachusetts Army National Guard with the 182nd Engineer Company, with tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was named a Purple Heart recipient this year.

The parade begins Sunday, Nov. 21, at 1 p.m., runs along Route 125 from the Caleb Dustin Hunking School, crosses Basiliere Bridge, turns left onto Merrimack Street and then right onto Emerson Street. The procession ends on Ginty Boulevard.

Near the start of the parade Driscoll Funeral Home, 309 S. Main St., is offering free parking at its expanded lot before the street closes around 12:30. Those using the parking area are encouraged to bring a canned good or make a donation to benefit the Angelo Petrozzelli Food Pantry at Sacred Hearts Parish. Restrooms will also be available.

Parade Roster

(Bookmark to your smart device for easy reference)

Pre-Parade Division

Ed Dias, organizer

  • Fire Engines from across the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire
  • Trinity Ambulance and other Emergency Vehicles
  • American Red Cross Vehicle
  • Antique & Specialty Cars
  • Patriot Riders NH

First Division

Dan Plourde Sr., organizer

  • Haverhill High School Jr. R.O.T.C. Color Guard and Unit
  • Grand Marshall Specialist Donald Jarvis, 182nd Engineer Company, Iraq and Afghanistan, Purple Heart Recipient
  • Lorraine Post 29 VFW Commander Shawn Watkins
  • VFW State Commander Doug Wood
  • Haverhill District Council Veterans
  • Amvets Post 147 Color Guard
  • Amvets Post 147 Commander Dean Thayer
  • Greater Haverhill Korean Veterans Association
  • Hannah Dustin Chapter 20 Disabled American Veterans (DAV) & Vehicle
  • U.S. Marine Corps League
  • Essex County Sheriff’s Department Color Guard and Marchers
  • Haverhill Police Department Color Guard and Officers
  • Haverhill Fire Department Color Guard and Officers
  • Northern Essex Community Police
  • City and State Officials

Second Division

Danielle Graham, organizer

  • Hallamore Clydesdales & Hitch (Wood)
  • Opportunity Works Float (Hunking)
  • Pentucket Bank Float (Hunking)
  • Pentucket Bank Sponsorship Banner (Hunking)
  • Salem High School Marching Band (Hunking)
  • Masons of the 11th District Marchers (Wood)
  • Commandery of Knights Templar (Wood)
  • JG Whittier Order of Demolay for Boys (Wood)
  • Greenleaf Academy Float (Hunking)
  • Tilton School Marchers (Wood)
  • New Liberty Jazz Band (Hunking)
  • Covanta Float (Hunking)
  • Kimball Farm Horses (Hunking)
  • Ocasio’s True Marshal Arts (Wood)
  • Georgetown Royal Lancers Marching Band (Hunking)

Third Division

Andrew Plourde and Gina Plourde, organizers

  • Sacred Hearts School Float (Hunking)
  • Karla Pattavina’s Dance Academy (Wood)
  • Miss Hampton Beach
  • JG Whittier Birthplace Horse and Wagon (Wood)
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • Banner for Veterans Northeast Outreach Center
  • Veterans Northeast Outreach Center Float (Hunking)
  • Ozzie’s Kids Floats (Hunking)
  • Great American Marching Band (Hunking)
  • Consentino Middle School National Junior Honor Society and Cheerleaders (Wood)
  • UNH Winterguard
  • Whittier Tech High School Float and Cheerleaders (Hunking)
  • VFW Santa Parade Donation Collection Blanket & Costume Characters (Hunking)

Fourth Division

Dan Plourde Jr. and Kevin Bolduc, organizers

  • ServPro of Haverhill/Newburyport cars (Wood)
  • ServPro Sponsorship Banner
  • Londonderry High School Lancers Marching Band (Hunking)
  • Haverhill Promise Float (Hunking)
  • Haverhill Youth Soccer (Wood)
  • Cub Scouts Pack 63 Haverhill Float (Hunking)
  • The Clan MacPhearson Pipes & Drums (Hunking)
  • Bartlett School & Assessment Center (Hunking)
  • Laps4back (Wood)
  • Middlesex County Volunteers Fife and Drum (Hunking)
  • Betsy Conte Food Drive (Academy Plaza)
  • Beverly High School (Hunking)
  • Haverhill Jr. Hillies Football Float (Hunking)
  • Haverhill Downtown Boxing (Wood)
  • Rise Movement Studio Float (Hunking)

Fifth Division

Jessica Plourde, organizer

  • Sponsored by Crescent Farms Banner
  • Reading High School Band (Hunking)
  • Haverhill, MA Lions Club 33-N (Wood)
  • Haverhill Public Library Float (Hunking)
  • The Dance Works (Wood)
  • King of Grace Church Float (Hunking)
  • New Magnolia Jazz Band (Hunking)
  • Haverhill Pentucket Thunder Hockey (Wood)
  • Nots Barber Shop (Hunking)
  • Hunking Middle School Cheerleaders (Wood)
  • Haverhill High/Middle School Band (Hunking)
  • Haverhill Girls Softball League Float (Wood)
  • Sons of Italy (Hunking)
  • Haverhill Bank Sponsorship Banner (Hunking)
  • Santa Claus Float (Hunking)

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