Holiday traditions old and new excite in Chester and Londonderry

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2015 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Derry Santa

With Santa in his sleigh at the Londonderry Tree Lighting. Photos by Shawn Cunningham.

On Friday night, at the Mountain Marketplace in Londonderry, a crowd of more than 100 welcomed Santa Claus by singing a selection of Christmas carols and other holiday songs followed by the lighting of two large pines that stand near the information booth at the south entrance to the marketplace.

A long line of children got the chance to sit alongside St. Nick in his sleigh and tell him what they are hoping to find on the morning of Dec. 25 as parents snapped photos. The singing was led by Nordic Harmoni, which passed out song sheets for everyone to follow.

Derry tree lighting

Moments after lighting in Londonderry

After half a dozen songs, the crowd counted down to the lighting of the trees, and when the cheering died down, everyone was invited to enjoy cookies and hot chocolate at the Neighborhood Connections office in the shopping center.

This is the fourth year for the event organized by Susie Wyman and Tad Kinsley, owner of Jake’s Restaurant. This year, Kinsley replaced the old incandescent strings with new sets of LED lights, which were hung by A.J Gordon.

Santa and entourage arrive via haywagon

Santa and entourage arrive by haywagon

Marking its 30th year since being started by innkeeper Jack Coleman, Chester’s Overture to Christmas was held on Saturday and culminated with the arrival of Santa, Mrs. Claus, several elves and some walking, talking presents.

After lighting the tree on the Green, Santa & Co. moved to the lobby of the Fullerton Inn to greet local children and their parents, all of whom enjoyed a vast selection of cookies and hot chocolate.

Santa boy

Santa hears the first of a long line of children’s wishes

Earlier in the day, there was a kickoff breakfast at the First Baptist Church, arts activities at Chester-Andover Elementary School, a Tea and Christmas sale at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and gingerbread house judging at the Fullerton Inn. Matt Meserve and family as well as music teacher Cindy Austin and  students from Green Mountain Union High School sang throughout the town and serenaded seniors citizens from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

As darkness fell, 400 hundred luminaries placed along Main Street and the Common during the afternoon glowed along with the lights in the trees on the Green.

Overture to Christmas was put on by volunteers including Bret and Nancy Rugg, Steven and Nancy Davis, Chris Meyer,  John and Lynn Russell, Jeremy Fleming, Heather Morse, Kaitlin Wells, Deb and David Armstrong, Pat Budnick, Christina Smith, Randy Bobar, Will Cook, Andrea Cook, Bruce Meyer, the Chester Fire Department, Chester Police Department, Laurie Birmingham, Emily Burkland, Michele Wilcox and Nancy Phillips. Local inns made platters of cookies and Kat Meyer’s Girl Scout troop baked 12 dozen cookies for the celebration.

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