Article by Gail McCarthy of Gloucester Daily Times. December 21, 2023
ROCKPORT — The afternoon before Christmas, a fairly new tradition will once again take place when Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with the Grinch himself, will take a drive around Rockport on a ladder truck to wave hello to anyone who cares to greet them.
But beforehand, on Friday evening, local “elves” will be filling bags with goodies that Santa will distribute Christmas Day in Dock Square.
The Christmas Eve procession of the Clauses and the Grinch is accompanied by a Rockport Police escort, other Rockport Fire Department trucks, and the Ambulance Department. There is a new time this year, with the crew heading out of Central Fire Station on Broadway at 4 p.m.
This procession started four years ago, in 2019, when former Selectman Don Campbell volunteered to don a Santa suit, and he was driven around town on the Fire Department’s ladder truck. Firefighter Katie Favaloro serves as the Santa “sleigh driver.”
The inaugural event took hold and the Favaloro family continues to volunteer to help out with this Rockport Fire Department tradition each Dec. 24.
This year, the trio will leave the Central Fire Station on Sunday at 4 p.m., first heading to Dock Square to Beach Street to King Street to Granite Street on the way to Folly Cove with an estimated arrival time around 4:35 p.m.
The return trip to the town center is expected to arrive at Five Corners about 5 p.m., after which the parade moves to DPW Drive off Upper Main Street. It will then travel to the South End with an estimated arrival time at Rockport High School around 5:20 p.m. on the way to the second entrance of Marmion Way. The parade will travel the entire street, then head back to the fire station, arriving around 5:40 p.m.
“Sometimes I think the adults are more excited to hear their name called out by Santa than the children,” noted Janelle Favaloro. “We are equipped with a spotlight now for better visibility on top of the truck, speakers for our holiday music, lights, and a microphone for Santa.”
Many residents and visitors have come out to cheer the parade on as Santa passes through their neighborhoods.
The Grinch joined the event two years ago, and is known to hop out of one of the fire trucks along the route and mingle with the children.
For details on the schedule, visit the “Rockport, MA Fire Department” Facebook page.
Santa on Christmas Day
In a tradition that spans more than 125 years, there is much goodwill that goes around town on Christmas morning.
One event is a visit from Santa in Dock Square on Monday, Dec. 25, at 10:30 a.m.
Entire families come out — in snow, rain or sunshine — to greet Santa and every child will be given a bag of goodies as a special gift and photographs can be taken, many of which become family mementos. Children also can thank Santa for their gifts.
This event is hosted by the Rockport Christmas Tree Committee, which does far more in making sure residents are greeted with holiday cheer.
On Christmas morning, a group of dedicated volunteers delivers baskets filled with fruit and treats to some elderly residents — and others — among other tasks organized by this nonprofit group.
“We wish to thank our members and all the regulars who help us each year. At our basket packing last year, we saw our biggest turnout ever — 116 residents, young and old. Many commented this was their first time and they were having a great time. Please mark your calendar and come and help us pack bags at Spiran Hall on Friday, Dec. 22, at 6:30 p.m. The more the merrier! This year we hope to pack more than 700 baskets for delivery and 300-plus bags to be given out by Santa in Dock Square on Christmas morning,” wrote Ruth George of the Christmas Tree Committee in a letter to the editor of the Times.
George also thanked the volunteers who deliver baskets each year. This year, the organizers will be at Spiran Hall at 8:30 a.m. on Christmas morning; George invited newcomers too to come deliver a few baskets and spend a few moments to bring cheer to others.
“What a wonderful thing to do, to bring out the true meaning of Christmas,” wrote George, “and spreading cheer to someone who might be alone this holiday season.”
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at email@example.com.