Manchester Merriment kicks off Nov. 30

The inaugural Bellows Falls Parade of Lights, slated for Saturday, Dec. 11, is patterned after Manchester's annual "Merriment" lighted tractor parade.

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BELLOWS FALLS — Bellows Falls is borrowing a festive idea from Manchester and planning a parade of illuminated vehicles to celebrate the holiday season.

The inaugural Bellows Falls Parade of Lights is slated for Saturday, Dec. 11, as night falls, as part of the Bellows Falls Downtown Alliance’s Christmas celebration.

Ben Masure is heading up the parade. On Tuesday he reported that so far 25 people or businesses have registered vehicles for the parade, which starts at dusk. “I’m sure you’ll see a little bit of everything” he said.

He said he and his family had gone over to Manchester a couple of years ago to see the holiday parade, and came away impressed.

Betsy Thurston, the executive director of the downtown alliance came before the Rockingham Select Board last year, she mentioned having a parade of lights during the upcoming holiday season and Masure signed up.

He said a small group of dedicated volunteers including Thurston, himself, Alicia Thomas, Jesi Bashaw and Jessica Illingworth, has been working to organize the parade and give the town and village a treat.

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He said the Parade of Lights’ kick-off is being coordinated with other Christmas festivities in downtown Bellows Falls on Dec. 11. The Bellows Falls Rotary Club’s traditional Christmas movie at the Bellows Falls Opera House will let out in time for people to see the parade. The lighting of the new Community Christmas Tree in the new downtown memorial park is also scheduled to proceed the parade.

The parade route will start on Henry Street, go through the downtown area, and end at Williams Street. Masure said the organizers had originally thought to use the traditional Bellows Falls parade route, but decided it was too long in the dark.

“We’re trying to keep it simple this year,” he said, but he said next year the parade organizers hope to offer prizes for best decorated vehicles.

Unlike the Manchester parade, which is in its ninth year as the Manchester Merriment Lighted Tractor Parade, there will be no competition or prizes for best lighted vehicle or float, Masure said.

Manchester limits the number of entrants to the parade, and there is judging and cash awards for the Dec. 4 parade in Manchester. Two other Bennington County towns also have lighted parades: Arlington and Dorset.

Masure said the committee was asking people to pre-register for the Bellows Falls parade, either with paper registration forms available at the Rockingham Town Hall, or online on the Bellows Falls Parade of Lights Facebook page. If people have trouble navigating the social media page, they should email him at bmasure52@gmail.com. Registration is open until the end of November.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com.