Posted by boston.com December 2, 2013 11:12 AM
By Kathy McCabe, Globe Staff
Santa Claus and shoppers arrived in downtown Beverly over the weekend, to usher in the official start of the holiday season.
Hundreds of people lined downtown on Sunday for the 66th Annual Beverly Holiday Parade, which stepped off from the Cummings Center, and rolled past City Hall, where a large Menorah is displayed for Hannukah.
Ward One City Councilor Maureen Troubetaris, who is leaving office in January after 22 years, was grand marshal. The Beverly High and Salem High marching bands performed.
Antique cars, including a green Chevy Bel-Air and a bright yellow Corvette, led the parade. Fire trucks from Hamilton and Rockport joined the fun. A dog rode atop a fire truck honoring fallen firefighters.
Youth hockey players skated on in-line skates. Dog walked with their owners, celebrating the city’s dog park. A black panther, the mascot of Beverly High, replaced the Grinch in festive float called, “How the Panther Stole Christmas.”
“It’s a great day for Beverly,” said Mayor William Scanlon[left], who wore a Red Sox cap for his final holiday parade.
Scanlon is retiring in January after serving 18 years in office.
The parade capped a big weekend in Beverly, where merchants participated in Small Business Saturday, a national promotion by American Express to support local businesses.
Free parking was offered on Cabot Street on Saturday, easing at least for a day a parking crunch that some merchants say hurts business.
“Years ago, there was free parking from Thanksgiving until Jan. 1, “ said Jane Darrah, an owner of Browns of Beverly, a 75-year-old bicycle shop.
Free parking now is limited to two hours per day, Thursday through Saturday, through January 1. Shoppers must keep a close eye on time, or risk getting a ticket.
.”At least if we had free parking during the holidays, it would help,” she said. “We have so many competing shops at the malls, where there is free parking.”
Orange and green bicycles were displayed in Browns’ window. Darrah hoped the display would prompt youngsters to put a new bike on their list for Santa.
“We made sure our window looked good,” she said, standing outside her shop, as the parade rolled by.
Saturday drew a lot of shoppers thinking about making a holiday purchase. But Darrah thinks Small Business Saturday should be held later in the holiday season.
“It’s a nice idea but I think, on this weekend, people are preoccupied with getting the Black Friday sales. That mentality lasts all weekend,” Darrah said.
But another longtime Beverly merchant thinks the timing for Small Business Saturday is just right.
“It gets us in the spotlight on an important shopping weekend,” said Jan Preston, who opened Casa de Moda, a gift shop, 44 years ago.
Preston used social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to promote her shop, which sells everything from toys and games, to knitwear and jewelry.
“We sold a lot of jewelry, and a lot of men were shopping,” Preston said.
Heather Carnevale, 35, of Beverly, spent $70 on board games, word game books, and other holiday gifts for nieces and nephews.
“It’s Small Business Saturday and I wanted to give my local shops a boost,” said Carnevale, a teacher at a Montessori school.
“You can find a lot of unique gifts in a local shop.”