Lowell Lights Up Bright for the Holidays
LOWELL-- If they weren’t already in the mood, the huge crowds downtown at the 2018 City of Lights Festival were inundated with the holiday spirit from all directions.
Organizers found every conceivable way to indulge the senses with festive cheer. Kids enjoyed the sweets covered in red and green frosting, families were floored by the rhythmic sounds of marching bands playing Lady Gaga, and lights of all shape, size and variety shone everywhere.
The favorable weather brought area residents in large numbers to congregate along the parade route that started on Jackson Street, continued down Central Street and then Merrimack Street to end at City Hall. The JFK Civic Center was filled with a variety of holiday-themed kiosks selling everything from fudge to Christmas ceramics to clam chowder.
At t the end of the parade, City of Lights organizers and local officials joined an incredibly jolly Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus up on a stage near City Hall and counted down to the lighting of the surrounding plaza.
Lowell High School student Kevin Snow, 16, who marched with school marching band during the parade, was able to enjoy the end of the parade along with fellow marcher Erika Pen, also 16 also. He said it’s very cool to see the area change.
“We spend so much of our time in the downtown, because we go to the high school. But during this parade, you can see it kind of transform. It kind of transforms the city into something you don’t usually see,” said Snow.
The parade, kicked off by Grand Marshall John Power, began with a line of antique cars, one of which was occupied by the furry Lowell Spinners Gator mascot.
The Lowell High marching band played an instrumental rendition of Lady Gag’s “Poker Face,” which received several rounds of applauses and amused the crowd thoroughly.
They were joined by several other marching bands later in the parade, which included bands from UMass Lowell, Middlesex Community College, Chelmsford High and Dracut High.
Longtime Lowell residents John and Lynn Breen come to the parade every year to shop, watch the festivities and then go out to dinner in downtown.
“It’s just a fun thing to come to. We make a night of it,” said Lynn Breen. “My sister actually just won a wreath at Festival of Wreaths event at the festival. But, yeah, this festival is kind of a treat every year for us.”
The couple mentioned how this year brought more attendance then they’ve seen in a while.
“This was one of the bigger ones, for sure,” said John Breen.
Many kids along the parade route adored the three little ponies marching in the parade with the Littleton Hack n’ Tack 4-H Club, one of whom followed the ponies on a horse.
Some of the creative, peddle-driven vehicles that raced earlier this year in the Kinetic Sculpture Race also took part in the parade. One was a large lobster-shaped vehicle powered by two peddlers and the other vehicle had a gigantic ball for a front wheel and was very much was like a giant tricycle.