Salem holiday parade grand marshals

The Salem School District’s 11 nurses will be honored as grand marshals at the upcoming holiday parade. Upon hearing the news, the nurses bought matching shirts and festive hats for the occasion.

SALEM, N.H. — The Salem holiday parade will march on with some special guests after being upended by the pandemic in 2020.

In honor of its 50th year, a “golden anniversary” theme was selected by parade committee members. The group is also responsible for choosing a grand marshal.

After a year that was anything but ordinary, board member Tom Angelo explained that the group’s approach followed suit.

“Typically it’s one person. Sometimes it’s two,” he said of marshals.

This year, 11 nurses who serve the Salem School District will lead the event together.

Lancaster Elementary School nurse Casey Nichols said she and her coworkers were shocked by the recognition and look forward to a day all about joy.

At the K-5 school she serves, day-to-day tasks have been forced aside by pandemic protocols.

“Everything from standard screenings to ensure overall health and wellness had to take a back seat because we couldn’t gather,” she said. “We couldn’t even line up classes in the hallway to measure kids’ height and weight.”

Nichols says the youngest Lancaster students have only experienced separation in school.

“They had just half a year in kindergarten before this all happened,” she said. “They’re coming into second grade with really no school experience. We have to take a step back and focus on how everyone’s doing.”

In order for the nurses to care for students, they have had to lean on each other — from a distance, of course.

“We’ve gotten much more collaborative over the last couple years,” Nichols said. “We quickly learned that we have to be on the same page, making the same calls and really coming together. We run things by each other all the time.”

All are welcome to join them Sunday, Nov. 28, at 1 p.m. along the parade route. It will start at the intersection of Main and Policy streets, continue down Main Street and turn right onto Geremonty Drive, ending at Salem High School.

The event is run by volunteers and funded by local businesses and donors. The intent is to preserve a small-town feel and community atmosphere.

Angelo explains that for many in Southern New Hampshire and nearby Massachusetts, the parade marks the beginning of the holiday season.

When it was deemed unsafe to gather a year ago, organizers turned the event around by announcing a “reverse parade.”

Residents, schools and businesses decorated properties, and committee members drove around to judge each.

As of mid-November, a collective $20,000 was donated to the 2021 parade effort.

Participation is also at an all-time high.

“This is the first time in many, many years that all of our elementary schools are entering a float,” Angelo said. “New Superintendent Maura Palmer is entering a districtwide float as well.”

It’s expected to include a replica of Salem’s old, one-room schoolhouse No. 5.

Just as traditional fun returns to the parade, Nichols says schools are working on doing the same.

“We’re doing things like dance party mornings to liven things up,” she said. “As much as we can to bring fun back into the buildings.”

More information on the parade is available online at

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