Students from the Studio of Dance Arts in Methuen go through their paces. , VALLEY DISPATCH/BENJAMIN J. MCELROY
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BY JENNIFER AMY MYERS, Valley Dispatch Staff

METHUEN — The city of Methuen has apparently lost all interest in Thanksgiving; they are skipping straight to the good stuff, Christmas.

Hundreds of Methuen residents lined the streets of downtown Methuen on Nov. 19 to welcome the holiday season at the city’s annual Santa Parade.

Carolyn Mailhot, formerly of Methuen, who now lives in North Hampton, N.H., enjoyed the day with her granddaughters Carolyn and Bryanna Mailhot, 6, and Sheilagh Welch, 4, all of Methuen.

“I’ve come every year since it started, which must have been about five or six years ago,” she said. “It just gets bigger and better every year.”

Outgoing Mayor Sharon Pollard, the grand marshal, presided over the event from the back of a black GTO convertible decorated in festive wreaths and ribbons. With her seasonally appropriate red scarf and rosy cheeks, she looked like the queen of the Rose Bowl parade as she smiled and waved to the throngs of people along the route.

She was followed by a crowd favorite, the raucous band of bagpipers and drummers from Clan MacPherson Pipes and Drums of North Andover, who surely felt quite a draft up their kilts as they entertained downtown Methuen with holiday favorites, such as “Jingle Bells.”

It must be true what they say, wisdom does come with age. The elders from the Methuen Council on Aging are no fools, they rode in style, relaxing in a Cadillac limousine.

The Tenney group was appropriately followed by the popular New Liberty Jazz Band, playing “Ain’t She Sweet.”

The impressively lengthy parade took more than an hour to wind its way from Pelham Street through the downtown area, children along the route waited patiently to see the big man in the red suit, collecting candy and other baubles as they waited.

And then, finally, there he was, being led by the impressive Methuen High School Rangers Marching Band. Having left his sleigh back home at the North Pole to be properly cleaned, detailed and tuned up, in anticipation of his big trip on Dec. 24, Santa Claus caught a ride from some friends.

The jolly giver, clad in his signature suit, his beard clean and well-groomed, looked every bit the celebrity that he is, wearing a pair of dark sunglasses as he acknowledged his friends and fans from high atop the Methuen Fire Department’s large ladder truck.

Having made his first public appearance of the season, officially giving the residents of Methuen the green light to begin holiday preparations, Santa headed back home, to return to the homes of those who have been nice in just over a month.

“Once the parade is over, I know it is time to start playing my Christmas music,” Mailhot laughed. “I’ll turn it on in the car on the way home.”

Have a comment on this story? E-mail Jennifer Amy Myers at jmyers@thevalleydispatch.com.