CONWAY — Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus will be in North Conway’s Schouler Park at 5 p.m. on Saturday after all.
North Conway’s Tom Roberge, 64, who has played Santa for the past five years for Community Celebrations’ annual “Old Fashioned Christmas” celebration, called The Conway Daily Sun to say he was going to have a small unofficial gathering in the park at 5 p.m., even though the traditional tree-lighting ceremonies are not taking place this year due to a lack of sponsorship coordination and volunteers.
“The lights will be on, and I don’t need a big ceremony,” said the white-bearded Roberge. “I think it’s important to do this for the kids. It’s about Christmas and the holidays — I am just asking people to show up to join us in some caroling and holiday cheer.”
He said anyone wanting further information may leave Roberge a message at (207) 850-1357.
Roberge called the Sun Wednesday afternoon after seeing the story in that morning’s edition in which organizers said that this year’s tree lighting and Santa sleigh-on-wheels procession to the North Conway Public Library and Eastern Slope Inn Resort were not taking place this year.
As the article noted, the event was canceled largely because the person who had done much of the organizing work in the past — Frank Guerriero, former marketing director at the Eastern Slope Inn Resort — had moved on earlier this year to a new position in the Portland, Maine, area.
There was not sufficient time for organizers to round up the volunteers and continued sponsorship for the event to take place this year, but Paula Sullivan Jones and Michelle Cruz of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce and others have said since the article appeared that they will be looking for volunteers and sponsors to help make sure it takes place next year.
Tree-lightings will be held on Dec. 1 at 4 p.m. at the Jackson Village gazebo and at 3:30 p.m. at Bartlett Elementary School in Bartlett; and on Dec. 7 at Settlers Green in North Conway.