Whittier Tech Reveals the Many Career Pathways Involved in its Annual Santa Parade Float

Students in many Whittier Tech pathways contributed to the design and creation of a float for the Lorraine Post 29 VFW’s 58th Santa Parade in Haverhill. (Courtesy photograph.)

Students at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School continued the tradition of designing and building a float for Lorraine Post 29 VFW’s annual Santa Parade, but used this year’s opportunity to introduce the school’s new Marine Technology career pathway.

This year’s blue-and-white float depicted water and whitecaps, with a white Whittier Tech boat riding the waves. Penguins are riding inside. Whittier Tech launched the Marine Technology program for the 2022-2023 school year, to meet a demand for service technicians along the East Coast.

“It is always nice to hear the excited shouts of ‘Look, here comes the Whittier Float,’ and to see the smiles and the people dancing to the music,” said Whittier Librarian and Media Specialist Rich Porcelli. Porcelli and Maintenance staff member Josh Bellman drove the float. Porcelli has maneuvered the school float and served as sound producer for 25 parades.

Porcelli passed the keys to the float to Bellman, who will take over driving duties next year. “After 25 parades of walking along with, riding on, and then driving the float, it is the main thing I am going to miss,” he said.

The 58th Annual VFW Santa Parade took place Sunday, Nov. 20. This year’s theme was “Santa’s Ugly Sweater Party.”

The float was designed by Art Instructor Paul Murray, who worked with art classes, the Art Club and many career pathways. Those included Carpentry, which built a form to hold the boat on the float as well as wood forms to make the waves and the form of the polar bear; Metal Fabrication, which built an armature with a spring to hold the narwhal at the front of the boat and springs for under the polar bear’s water skis; Auto Body/Collision Repair, which cleaned and repainted the boat and cowling on the outboard motor provided from Marine Technology; Electrical, which set up the brake lights and power outlets; and Art, which made paper mâché penguins, the narwhal, and polar bear, painted the side boards and contributed to making the fabric look like water and waves around the boat.

Marine Technology Instructor Paul Murray, Mike Murray, Whittier Tech cheerleaders and Art Club members accompanied the float along the parade route.

“The Santa Parade is always a highlight of the holiday season, and our students are proud to contribute to the event and show the skills they have acquired,” Superintendent Maureen Lynch said.

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