AMESBURY — For years David Pare and his wife, Terrie, have begun planning for the holiday season promptly after ringing in the New Year and well before boxing away their warm clothing. Thoughts of lighting, garlands, floats, Santa and selecting the perfect grand marshal are things that consume the two for months.

A member of the Amesbury Santa Parade Committee, Pare says he loves bringing everyone together and watching the crowds of families and young children gather.

"It's the tradition of the parade that makes it so wonderful," Pare said.

The theme of this year's annual Santa Parade is "The Night Before Christmas," slated for Saturday, Dec. 6, at 3:30 p.m. Carrying spirit across town, the parade will begin at Greenleaf and Highland streets and end in Market Square for the tree lighting.

After 13 years of service, the parade veteran faces a significant change. His long-time friend and fellow committee member Henry Vedrani recently passed away from cancer. Pare remembers years of long mornings enjoying a coffee and bouncing new parade ideas off Vedrani.

"He would always provide feedback, give me his input and help improve the parade," Pare said.

Wanting to honor him and his years of service, the committee made the decision to dedicate the parade to Vedrani — a first for a parade. A large banner will lead the parade and a plaque will be presented to Vedrani's family prior to the tree lighting.

"He was one of the parade's biggest supporters," Pare said. "This seems like the least we could do."

Also being honored this year is local resident Madison Lewis. After careful consideration Lewis was selected as grand marshal.

In June Lewis helped raise $6,000 for pediatric cancer research through her lemonade stand in conjunction with Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. A childhood cancer survivor herself, Lewis runs the lemonade stand once a year as a way to give back.

With her most recent lemonade stand she found herself in the top 100 best-selling lemonade stands, out of the nearly 2,500 Alex's Foundation hosts nationwide during its Lemonade Days.

Her float, provided by John McGinnis Auctioneers, will lead the long procession of floats, marching bands, local police and fire departments, live entertainment, and local civic groups.

The parade draws in a crowd of around 3,000 yearly, with Pare estimating about 2,000 participants. Even last year's cold temperatures, snowy roads and strong winds did not deter the crowds.

"Weather doesn't stop the people. They enjoy this even when it's cold, snowy or rainy," Pare said.

Stephanie McCowan, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said last year's turnout surpassed previous years'.

"I'm really looking forward to the parade and lighting this year," McCowan said. "I anticipate this year is going to be the biggest."

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The committee is still currently looking for volunteers and participants. Those interested in submitting a float or donating time should contact David Pare at 978-388-8562 or e-mail dpare2008@yahoo.com.

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