By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — When Santa Claus makes his annual visit to North Andover, a mere sleigh pulled by a few reindeer does not suffice.
Mr. Claus’ means of conveyance must be no less than the town’s largest and most powerful vehicle, the Fire Department ladder truck. The Grand Elf also needs appropriate accompaniment: Dozens of dancers, multitudes of musicians and tons of good cheer emanating from thousands of spectators.
Organizers of this year’s Santa Parade, set to step off at noon Nov. 30 from North Andover Middle School, said they are confident St. Nick will have more than ample cause to bellow “ho ho ho!”
E.J. Foulds, who is coordinating floats, said 10 have already entered. Participants include Sal’s Pizza, People’s United Bank, St. Michael Church, Smolak Farms, Kids Karousel, the Lions Club, Grace United Baptist Church and Acting Out.
The North Andover and Methuen high school marching bands will help people keep in step. Those who are stimulated by the sound of the bagpipes are likely to be pleased. The Stewart Highlanders, Clan MacPherson and Campbell Highlanders will all be marching and playing.
Other musical groups include 60s Invasion and Sax Pak.
No fewer than four dancing schools will be strutting their stuff: Nancy Chippendale, Just Dance, North Andover School of Dance and the Center for Performing Arts.
Should anyone dare to sabotage Santa’s party, fear not. The Minutemen will be marching, firing their muskets every so often.
The Minihaulers, the Aleppo Shriners driving miniature trucks, are likely to provide lots of laughs. Foulds and Jeffrey Coco, co-chairman of the Festival Committee, which organizes the parade, estimated Santa has been making his high-profile visit to North Andover for at least 50 years.
The parade usually draws thousands of spectators, they said.