EXETER — While several communities have canceled their holiday parades due to the worldwide pandemic, Exeter will still be bringing Santa Claus to town. In fairness to all, the events of 2020 make the idea of a “traditional” parade impossible, but the Exeter Holiday Parade volunteers have come up with a novel alternative.

The group has received the necessary approvals for the 2020 Drive-Thru Holiday Celebration using the concept of a “reverse parade”. With the cooperation of SAU 16, the Holiday Celebration will be held on the grounds of Exeter High School.

While the event will be held on the parade’s traditional date of the first Saturday in December (12/5/2020), little else will be traditional this year. The high school building will be ringed by holiday lights and displays, inflatables, several holiday-themed “vignettes” and of course, the opportunity to see and wave to a socially distanced Santa.

All the holiday displays will remain stationary and families will be driving around the high school building to view the displays. Vehicles will not be allowed to stop, and everyone must remain in their vehicle at all times.

The 2020 Drive-Thru Holiday Celebration will take place between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Sat., December 5. Police details will be directing patrons to enter the high school grounds via Old Town Farm Road of off Route 27. Volunteers will assist with traffic flow on the roadway around the high school and families can roll down their vehicle windows to interact with volunteers and characters from a safe distance. Santa’s stage will be socially distanced as well, but Santa will be coming to town for the night. All vehicles will exit the property on the school’s main driveway back out to Route 27.

The event, like the parade, is free to the public. To maintain a smooth traffic flow there will also be no fundraising done the night of the event. But the parade committee is reaching out to the community for some assistance. The committee is looking for donations of used artificial full-sized Christmas trees. Even ones with slight damage or non-working lights would be appreciated.

The nature of 2020 means that the committee is working on a tighter-than-usual timetable. Community members are asked to check the Exeter Holiday Parade Facebook page for regular updates. Specific questions can be sent to exeterholidayparade@gmail.com.

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