CLAREMONT — Five minutes before 6 p.m., Broad Street Park held a sizeable crowd of families in wait for the arrival of Santa Claus and the turning on of Christmas lights, an annual city tradition held the Friday night after Thanksgiving.

Immediately at the turn of the hour a Claremont ladder truck with red lights spinning came around the square and pulled to a stop near the gazebo. Santa Claus — or a Santa-costumed helper played by retired Claremont firefighter Steve Lizotte, depending on who you ask — hopped from the truck and climbed to the top steps of the gazebo.

The Santa pointed to a mailbox at the bottom of the steps. The mailbox, made by Ron Menard and Jim Ayotte of Ron’s Fix It Shop in Claremont, remain in the park until Christmas specifically for children to deposit their Christmas wish lists.

The Santa led the gathering in a countdown from 10. At zero, the lights went on. The Christmas season had officially returned to Claremont.

A line of families with children stretched the length of the park for children to have a brief chat with the iconic gift-bearer, along with a candy cane, letter paper and envelope as parting gifts.

Claremont resident Jaime Torres stood near the front of the line with his wife Samantha and two children, Annabelle, 8, and Kaleb, 3.

Torres said he held the family’s place in line for 45 minutes to get this prime position.

“My family went to eat while I stayed here,” he said.

When asked what she planned to ask Santa for Christmas, Annabelle said, “a hoverboard.” Kaleb said he also wanted a hoverboard.

“I guess we’ll be getting a family pack of hoverboard,” Torres said.

Carolers organized by Melissa Richmond of the West Claremont Center for the Music and Arts sang seasonal favorites for the crowd, including Come All Ye Faithful and Hark the Herald.

April Woodman, owner of 100 Mile Market on Pleasant Street, and volunteers from Claremont 4H sold hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate and treats.

Woodman said they’ve been selling refreshments at the event for nine years now. All proceeds go to the 4H group.

The lights and decorations were put up by the city Parks and Recreation Department and the Heart of Claremont, a volunteer-driven downtown revitalization group.

Shop Local Stamp Cards are back

With Small Business Saturday happening today, the city announced that 48 Claremont businesses are participating in this year’s holiday stamp card promotion.

According to Wednesday’s city newsletter, 48 locally owned retailers, salons and restaurants will stamp purchases on cards, which allow shoppers to enter raffles for gifts and coupons from their favorite businesses. Each card, which if available free-of-charge at any participating business, has 20 boxes. For every $5 purchased at a participating businesses, the business will stamp one box. When all 20 boxes are stamped (the equivalent of $100 spending locally), the shopper may enter the card in a drawing at the participating business of his or her choice. Drawings will take place on Jan. 2, 2020. Each business will have different raffle prizes.

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