NEWBURYPORT —  While Santa Claus is known for his sleigh and team of flying reindeer, he and Mrs. Claus prefer to make a water landing in the Clipper City and will be sailing into Waterfront Park with the U.S. Coast Guard to light the Market Square Christmas tree Sunday afternoon.

The Rotary Club of Newburyport and the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry co-sponsor the annual tree lighting which will see Jolly Old St. Nick arriving at the waterfront at 3:30 p.m.

Brian Sullivan, president of the Newburyport Rotary Club, said the Santa water landing is a unique experience.

“I have not seen this done like this anywhere else,” Sullivan said. “The Coast Guard gives an official government escort to Santa.”

Once they step on land, the Clauses will meet in the waterfront parking lot with the Newburyport High School and Triton Regional High School marching bands for a quick parade through downtown at 4 p.m.

“The Newburyport Rotary Club actually founded the Santa parade decades ago and we have been organizing and leading it since then,” Sullivan said. “It has been one of our greatest joys. We are absolutely ecstatic to do this, year after year and to partner with the Chamber to give Newburyport a wonderful holiday experience.”

The parade ends at Market Square where the Clauses will lead the countdown to lighting the city’s Christmas tree.

Frank Cousins, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said this year’s Christmas tree is adorned with 8,800 lights courtesy of an anonymous donor.

“The tree was decorated by Samantha’s Gardens and we had an anonymous sponsor donate the lights, which was very, very generous,” Cousins said.

The marching bands will play traditional Christmas carols during the tree lighting and the day’s festivities are expected to wrap up by 5 p.m.

“It really is nice,” Cousins said. “The Rotary does a great job with it and so does the Chamber. Everybody works together and it is a team effort. You’ve got the Rotary involved and the Chamber of Commerce involved and the city of Newburyport is involved by doing the lighting in Brown Square.”

Cousins also credited the many businesses that sponsored the decorations on lamp posts downtown.

He said Santa will be taking up a semi-residence in Brown Square for visits from children beginning on Friday, Dec. 6 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Santa will also be available in Brown Square from noon until 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7; Sunday, Dec. 8; Saturday, Dec. 14; Sunday, Dec. 15; Saturday, Dec. 21; and Sunday, Dec. 22. He also will be there from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec 13 and Friday, Dec. 20.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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