SALISBURY — Parks and Recreation administrator Jenn Roketenetz has a simple mission this holiday season: She’s bringing Santa Claus back for the town’s annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony Sunday.
“The Salisbury Firefighters Association’s Santa Breakfast was canceled this year and it was canceled last year,” Roketenetz said. “Now, think about that. My fifth-grade daughter saw Santa Claus most recently when she was in third grade. This will be the second year without Santa Claus for a lot of these kids. By the time they get to see him again, that magic will look different.”
The town did not hold its annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony last year, which includes a visit from Santa Claus, because of the pandemic.
But, with more people vaccinated and the holidays approaching, the town is bringing the annual tree-lighting ceremony back to the Town Common on Sunday, Nov. 28.
“It was important for me to make sure that Santa is there for a significant bit of time to give kids a chance to interact with him and even take a picture,” Roketenetz said. “I want to bring Santa back but in a safe way. We will be outside and there will be plenty of space.”
The tree-lighting ceremony is hosted by the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the Institution for Savings. It will include activities for children of all ages.
The 1882 Pike School will be open to the public from noon to 6 p.m., with tours of the historic schoolhouse taking place from 4 to 6 p.m.
The tree-lighting ceremony will take place on the Town Common from 5 to 7 p.m.
Roketenetz said the Pike School is holding a gingerbread contest and asking people to make historic replicas of local spots such as the Pike School House, Butler Toothpick or East Parish United Methodist Church.
Elsa the Snow Queen and Olaf will also make appearances Sunday.
The town has created a new story walk on the common that will be unveiled. There will be cookies and cocoa during the festivities.
“We’re really trying to put some more energy into the ceremony this year,” Roketenetz said. “We’d like to breathe new life into it.”
Roketenetz started in her new position over the summer and has been making the Town Common a centerpiece of her efforts.
Parks and Recreation held a winter farmers market on the Town Common and the annual Veterans Day ceremony took place there.
“The town’s initiative is to create more events but mine is to create spaces where we can gather and celebrate together and create memories,” Roketenetz said. “We really want to make this a place where the community can gather and share celebrations.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.