BRISTOL - The chilly air was not even a thought for Reggie Lâ€™Heureux as he fiddled with a speaker at the bottom of Main Street Sunday. His only concern was greeting a crowd of hundreds about to arrive in the Bristol Chamber of Commerceâ€™s 26th annual Childrenâ€™s Holiday Parade.
â€śIf this doesnâ€™t work I guess Iâ€™ll have to sing,â€ť he said with a bellowing laugh.
Rudolph and Jingle Bells blasted through just before the walkers turned the corner of High Street, bags of candy swinging by their sides. As president of the Bristol Auto Club, Lâ€™Heureux made it his duty to provide the musical entertainment for the occasion.
â€śItâ€™s a tradition with us, over 25 years now,â€ť he explained. â€śOne of the first ones was in the middle of a snowstorm. Rain, sleet or snow, weâ€™re here.â€ť
The auto club escorted Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus to the festival.
â€śWe love to see the excitement on kidsâ€™ faces,â€ť Santa said.
The Bristol Fire Departmentâ€™s Union Local 773 brought the hot chocolate - all 30 gallons of it.
Staff spent the morning brewing the drink in the kitchen at headquarters. Both off- and on-duty firefighters served families as they reached the end of their march.
â€śThe firefightersâ€™ union has always been supportive of the town, the citizens and the parade,â€ť Deputy Chief Bob Paggio pointed out. One year, marchers had to wait for the city to plow downtown when a gigantic winter blast came ahead of the parade.
â€śOther years it was so warm nobody wanted hot chocolate,â€ť Paggio said. â€śItâ€™s really the perfect day this year.â€ť
Donna Mullins followed her granddaughters Sarina Mullins and Kara Patterson down Federal Hill. She paused as the 6-year-old cousins collected candy from businesses and organizations lining the side of the street.
â€śWe always come,â€ť Mullins said. â€śItâ€™s a tradition.â€ť
Volunteers from Cub Scout Pack 425 placed goody bags into the girlsâ€™ mitten-covered hands, wishing them â€śMerry Christmas.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s fun to bring the holiday spirit to our community,â€ť said Brandi Bogli, standing beside her son, Ryan.
Theresa Reynolds walked up Main Street from Tracy-Driscoll Insurance & Financial Services, where she works. The Newington resident was joined by co-worker Mike Preleski in handing out all sorts of goodies.
â€śOur office is right downtown so we like to give back when we can,â€ť Preleski said. â€śThe companyâ€™s been here for over 97 years.â€ť
Former Bristol Mayor Bill Stortz sported green and red Christmas-themed pants, for which he collected compliments from friends and passersby.
â€śI canâ€™t sing and I canâ€™t dance but I can clap,â€ť Stortz said. â€śSomebody has to support the good events in Bristol.â€ť
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.