Kiddie Pool 23/11/30

Family fun for whenever

Holiday happenings

  • Merrimack’s holiday parade and tree lighting will take place on Sunday, Dec. 3, with the theme “Rock & Roll Holiday Thru Time.” The parade begins at 3 p.m. at the Commons Shopping Plaza (515 Daniel Webster Hwy.) and will end in the Town Hall parking lot (6 Baboosic Lake Road), where the tree lighting will take place. Visit
  • Looking for more holiday excitement, including details on Manchester’s Holiday Parade on Saturday, Dec. 2, and Concord’s Midnight Merriment on Friday, Dec. 1? Check out the Nov. 23 issue of the Hippo, our supersized Holiday Guide. Find the e-edition at

Meet the big guy

  • As part of Midnight Merriment, Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St. in Concord; 224-0562, will hold a Santa Storytime on Friday, Dec. 1, from 4:15 to 5 p.m. Catch new stories every 15 minutes, according to the website.
  • Charmingfare Farm (774 High St. in Candia; kicks off Santa’s Christmas Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3 (the event runs Friday, Dec. 8, through Sunday, Dec. 10; Friday, Dec. 15, through Sunday, Dec. 17; Wednesday, Dec. 20, through Saturday, Dec. 23). Pick a time when you buy tickets for either a four-person or a 10-person sleigh ride. The event also includes a stop at the North Pole, Mrs. Claus’ Bakery, a visit to the barnyard, an opportunity to shop for Christmas trees, a campfire, a special mailbox for letters to Santa and the big man himself.
  • Londonderry Access Center TV (281 Mammoth Road) will host Santa Live 2023 on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 1 to 3 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be present in the studio for children to visit and will be broadcast live on television. The event is free of charge and does not require Facebook access for attendance. It operates on a first come, first served basis. Refreshments and coloring activities are provided for children while they wait. Each child will receive a gift and a candy cane. Parents are allowed to take pictures during the visit. Visit
  • S’mores with Santa is returning to New Boston on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 4 to 6 p.m. Attendees can enjoy meeting Santa, making s’mores and sipping hot chocolate or cider while mingling with friends and neighbors. The gathering will include singing Christmas carols and the official lighting of the Christmas tree. Santa will be present in the gazebo for the tree lighting at 4 p.m., and children are invited to visit with Santa afterward and bring an ornament from home to place on the town tree. Toasty fire pits for roasting marshmallows will be available, with all the fixings for s’mores, hot chocolate and cider provided by the Recreation Department. In case of inclement weather, the backup date is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 3. Visit

At the Millyard Museum

  • The Millyard Museum’s (200 Bedford St., Manchester) holiday open house is on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will include children’s holiday crafts, cookies and cider, old-fashioned board games, and a special visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free. Visit
  • Millyard Museum (200 Bedford St., Manchester) is hosting an American Girl Doll Christmas Tea Party on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants are invited to bring their dolls and join a tea party that includes refreshments and crafts, featuring portrayals of Manchester’s notable women from history as depicted by American Girl dolls. Santa Claus will be visiting. Tickets are $20 per person. Visit

Holiday performance

  • Bedford Youth Performing Company presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at the Derryfield School Theatre (2108 River Road, Manchester) with performances on Friday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 2, at 1 p.m. The play is an adaptation of Barbara Robinson’s holiday classic that tells the story of the Herdmans, the worst kids in the history of the world, who take over the annual Christmas pageant. Ticket prices are $17.50 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. Call 472-3894 or visit

Treasure Hunt 23/11/30

Dear Donna,

Can you give me any information on this Occupied Japan tea set?

Thank you.


Dear Barbara,

Your set is moriage (which means hand painted with a raised enamel) dragonware. Being marked hand painted in occupied Japan gives you the time frame it was made (mid 1940s).

They made lots of dragonware earlier and even up to date. The history is an interesting one.

Having the tea set with teapot is better than just cups and saucers. As with everything, you want no damage or scratching. So if in good clean condition I would say the value is in the $100 range.

Thanks for sharing, Barbara.


What Thanksgiving is all about

Theatre Kapow presents The Thanksgiving Play

By Mya Blanchard

We all know Thanksgiving for the turkey and pie and giving thanks, but what is at the real root of the holiday and how does that tie in with Native American heritage month and culture? This is the question four individuals face when trying to write an accurate and politically correct Thanksgiving play for elementary school children in The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa FastHorse. Theatre Kapow’s production of the play will be at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage in Concord from Friday, Dec. 1, through Sunday, Dec. 3.

“It’s a group of four people who come together to write and produce a play in honor of Native American Heritage Month and they realize very quickly that it’s difficult for them to tell a story about Native American heritage without having any Native Americans among their company,” said director Matt Cahoon. “The whole play is them trying to struggle with the fact that they don’t know what to do. They get very paralyzed by their own ‘wokeness’ for lack of a better word, and they [are] trying to do the right thing, and the right thing ultimately ends them up in several not right places.”

The four-person cast features longtime Theatre Kapow member Rachael Longo as high school teacher Logan, her onstage partner Jaxton played by Peter Josephson, Molly Litt as Alicia, and Joel Iwaskiewicz making his Theatre Kapow debut as Caden.

“I think one of the biggest challenges that we have is being OK with saying and doing some of the really awful and inappropriate things that they do,” Longo said. “We perform these school pageants that have actually … been written and used by different public schools in our country, and so the playwright took the text from the actual pageants and put it in for the actors to perform.”

Native American playwright Larissa FastHorse wrote the comedy in 2015. It is the only one of her plays to go to Broadway, which Cahoon says is likely due to its relatability.

“I think people [will] very quickly recognize themselves in some of these characters,” he said. “This kind of innate need to do the right thing, to be politically correct, to take care of each other and sometimes the ways in which we can tie ourselves in knots in an effort to do good. There’s a lot of comedy that comes out of that idea, that difficult conversations are difficult for a reason, and I think we get to laugh at these characters as they try to navigate [that].”

Theatre Kapow presents The Thanksgiving Play
Where: Bank of New Hampshire Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord
When: Friday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m.
Cost: General admission tickets are $28 and $23 for students and seniors not including fees.
More info: Visit

Millions of lights

Where to find holiday displays big and small

Season of lights

Planning, scenery and tons of twinkles make up professionally crafted displays

By Mya Blanchard

As I stepped into the world of LaBelle Lights at LaBelle Winery in Derry, I was greeted by the voice of Eartha Kitt singing “Santa Baby.” The entrance to the lights — a new addition this year — is an illuminated present you walk through to continue up the path, under the Gateway Bridge, to the Tasting Room. Once you emerge on the other side of the building, you’re immediately immersed in a winter wonderland among classic Christmas songs and a total of 1½ million lights.

“This is our third year and we’ve been growing it steadily year over year so this is the biggest yet,” said Amy LaBelle, the founder of the winery. “[There are more than] 25 displays along the [half-mile] walk.”

The idea of LaBelle Lights first came to mind at the end of the summer in 2021 during the pandemic, LaBelle says. The idea was to find a way to serve and unite the community and create memories while staying safe.

“It just became such an awesome, successful, fun event where people are making these great family memories, taking great pictures, reminiscing, creating new family traditions, and so we just decided to keep growing it and leaning into it,” LaBelle said.

As you progress along the path, you walk through bright Christmas ornaments and travel through Candy Cane Lane and Snowflake Forest before coming across one of my personal favorite displays, a 15-foot-tall shimmery gold teddy bear. Preparing all these displays and the golf course they inhabit for LaBelle is nearly a year-long process.

“It is a project that starts for us in February,” LaBelle said. “We look at all the catalogs … we order the things we want to add, we order commercial strings of lights for things we’re going to build and we order any big pieces that we’re going to be putting on the course. … We have a 45-foot-tall Christmas tree, we have ornaments that you’re able to walk through that are 20 feet high, tunnels, it’s just quite a spectacle.”

While the displays are being custom built prior to being shipped, trees are cut down, cables are hung, items in storage are refurbished, and bridges and tunnels are prepared. Once the golf course closes at the end of October, there’s just two and a half weeks to get everything assembled.

Around the corner from the teddy bear is the bubble bridge, a sleigh and a light tunnel that brings you to the new giant Merry Mushrooms before you come across — another favorite of mine — two sparkling 20-foot-tall reindeer pulling a present-filled sleigh and a family of silver and gold squirrels.

“Every week has a different theme … to add a bit of extra fun,” LaBelle said. “There’s ugly sweater week, there’s dress like Santa week … [and] one of the weeks … we’ll be hiding elves along the course.”

Two charities, Toys for Tots and End 68 Hours of Hunger, benefit from LaBelle Lights to bring toys and food to families in need.

“I really hope people that come through LaBelle Lights will be aware of this so they can help support these charities because they’re so desperately needed in our community,” LaBelle said.

“The goal of LaBelle Lights is to create an experience for our guests that will create beautiful family memories … with [their] loved ones and to have a great time [and] to kind of be an oasis from the crazy world and just have a good old-fashioned night together.”

lit Christmas decorations of elves loading presents into sleigh
New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Courtesy photo by Alan MacRae.

Now through New Year’s Eve, New Hampshire Motor Speedway brings us the Gift of Lights, a two-and-a-half-mile route featuring more than 3 million lights along the New Hampshire Motor Speedway property in Loudon.

“The community of speedways across the country likes to not only celebrate the holidays, but do different things to raise funds for local charities,” said Scott Spradling, a representative of the Speedway. “There was a group that essentially spearheaded using the different NASCAR track facilities across the country to do this kind of effort, so we were approached several years ago to join and offer this local, really neat way to celebrate the holidays, so we jumped in and this is Year 13.”

Assembling more than 520 displays and 80 scenes — including 12 Days of Christmas among others — takes the crew more than 650 work hours to complete. Other highlights include the 130-feet-long infield entrance and the exit tunnel with 25,000 lights. Once you come out, you will be able to roast marshmallows and make s’mores over open fire pits.

“It started off shorter with fewer lights,” Spradling said. ‘I … remember the first time around we were excited when we got to a million of the twinkling lights and now we’ve tripled that size, so it has grown precipitously over the years.”

The Gift of Lights is a way to celebrate the holidays while also giving back to the community. A portion of the proceeds from the Gift of Lights goes to the New Hampshire Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities and since 2011 they’ve raised more than $400,000. Goods are collected for the Loudon food pantry — anyone who brings three or more non-perishable food items will get $5 off a single vehicle’s admission on weeknights.

“One thing that’s new this year is the company that’s running the Gift of Lights for us — a company called Winterland — [is] going to give $5 coupons to local schools and then donate a dollar per car that redeems their school code,” Spradling said. “The school that rallies the most cars and families to go attend the Gift of Lights will win $1,000 for their school to be able to spend on whatever school activity they would like, so there’s a fun little competition.”

Attendees can also save $5 by participating in the different theme nights, such as Christmas sweater night on Wednesday, Dec. 6. On Sunday, Dec. 10, is Yule Light Up The Night, where you can run or walk the path.

“We’ll have thousands of families that will come and participate every single year,” Spradling said. “I think it harkens back to an innocent time … [of driving] around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights … [and] holiday traditions that many families can remember doing and so we like to think that it becomes not just a destination for seeing pretty lights but it becomes a really fun family tradition.”

Lights by the pros

LaBelle Lights at LaBelle Winery
Where: 14 Route 111, Derry
When: Tuesdays through Saturdays, 4:30 to 9:30 p.m., through Sunday, Jan. 7.
Cost: Tickets range from $4 to $18 and are free for children 3 years old and younger.
More info: Visit

Gift of Lights at NH Motor Speedway
Where: 1122 Route 106, Loudon
When: Hours are 4:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2; Thursday, Dec. 7, through Monday, Dec. 25; and Friday, Dec. 29, and Saturday, Dec. 30.; 4:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30; Monday, Dec. 4, through Wednesday, Dec. 6; Tuesday, Dec. 26, through Thursday, Dec. 28; and Sunday, Dec. 31.
Cost: Tickets are $35 per car load, $60 per bus, limousine or RV, and cost $2 in addition per person when there’s more than 15 guests.
More info: Visit

Charmingfare Farm
Where: 774 High St., Candia
What: Charmingfare illuminates the season with Santa’s Christmas, when the farm transforms into a festive wonderland with a horse-drawn sleigh ride through a trail adorned with holiday lights and 12 holiday scenes leading to the North Pole. Families can visit the Reindeer Barn, send Christmas letters and enjoy Mrs. Claus’ Bakery.
When: The event runs on Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3; Friday, Dec. 8, through Sunday, Dec. 10; Friday, Dec. 15, through Sunday, Dec. 17; Wednesday, Dec. 20, through Saturday, Dec. 23. Pick a time when you buy tickets for either a four-person or a 10-person sleigh ride. The week post-Christmas, Charmingfare holds an Encore of the Lights event, where attendees can “climb aboard our horse-drawn ride and travel 30 minutes through our Christmas light displays and see the Reindeer at the North Pole,” according to the website. The event also includes Mrs. Claus’ Bakery, a visit to the barnyard, a campfire and more. And ring in 2024 with a New Year’s Eve Ride. This evening event features a fireside meal, music and a ride along the trail of holiday lights.
More Info:

9th annual Hollis Luminaria Stroll & Tree lighting
Where: Monument Square, Hollis
When: Saturday, Dec. 9, at 4 p.m.

Candlelight Stroll/Vintage Christmas at Strawbery Banke
Where: 14 Hancock St., Portsmouth
When: Fridays, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, and Saturdays, Dec. 2, Dec. 9 and Dec. 16, from 5 to 9 p.m., and Sundays, Dec. 3, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17, from 4 to 8 p.m.
Cost: Tickets are $32 for adults, $16 for children 5 to 17 years old and free for children under 5 years old.
More info: Visit


Different lighting options can significantly impact both your energy bill and the environment. Doran Dal Pra, co-founder of The New England Holiday Light Co., a decorative lighting design and installation service based in Hooksett, shared some expert tips to help you ensure that your holiday lights shine brightly without putting extra strain on your wallet or the planet.

A critical aspect of setting up holiday lighting, according to Dal Pra, involves assessing the electrical load of the circuit used.

“[For] a homeowner, knowing where things are plugged in and how everything is run is important,” he said.

Pairing holiday lights with outdoor outlets already powering high-energy appliances such as refrigerators and dryers can risk overloading circuits.

“Those can use a ton of energy, and you can trip something if the lights are on and you start those appliances,” Dal Pra said.

The choice of lighting type can also significantly affect energy consumption.

Though “incandescent lights look nice,” Dal Pra said, The New England Holiday Light Co. uses exclusively LED lights due to their lower energy usage.

“There’s a remarkable difference in the amount of energy drawn by incandescents versus LEDs; LEDs draw a fraction of the power that incandescent lights do,” he said. “You’ll see it on your electric bill; LEDs have a dramatically reduced impact on the end consumer.”

The enhanced efficiency of LED lights not only conserves energy but also enables the use of more lights per outlet

“You can run a lot of lights off a single outlet with LEDs due to their lower power requirements — much more than incandescents,” Dal Pra said.

While LED lights were once thought to be less vibrant and colorful than incandescent lights, Dal Pra said, they have “come a long way” and include new technology that provides more decorating options.

“The range of products available now is enormous, and the level of customization and programmability is really cool,” he said. “You can get standard colors, programmable colors, and do all sorts of effects.”

Finally, consider responsible disposal of your old or unwanted holiday lights.

“Instead of throwing them away, there are places that recycle holiday lights,” Dal Pra said. “Some places will even pay you for them because of the copper in the wires.” — Angie Sykeny

Festive brilliance

Holiday lights bring joy to local neighborhoods

By Renee Merchant

The holiday season is marked by the glow of lights, and some people create bright, eye-catching displays. We talked with homeowners who do these lights to see what goes into creating an extravagant display.

Dan Jobin designs his residential light show, which he calls Jobin Christmas Lights, in Bedford. He has been doing displays since 1982.

“It just grows bigger every year,” he said. “We’re over 100,000 lights now.”

Jobin didn’t acquire his collection of holiday decorations overnight; he said he picks up new pieces and more lights each year.

The most cost-effective way to build a collection, he said, is to buy discounted lights after the holidays.

“I try to pick up a standard type of light and then watch for those to go on sale so that [it’s] consistent,” he said.

Jobin’s light show has more to it than the visual aspect. It is synchronized to music that plays through speakers in the yard, beckoning visitors to roll their windows down or step out of their cars to hear the music.

When the weather is nice, Jobin likes to stand outside to meet the visitors and pass out candy canes, and he collects monetary donations for a local chapter of Make-A-Wish.

“We have a donation bin out front,” he said. “We’ve given Make-A-Wish over $30,000 in the last seven years.”

Mark Mousseu, another holiday lights enthusiast, has been doing his light show in Hudson, called Hudson Christmas, for about 25 years.

Unlike some new types of lights that are computer-generated, like pixels and projections, Mousseu’s collection is mostly wire frames, which are shapes or figures made out of metal that have lights attached to them.

He said the process for setting up his display starts around Nov. 1, and his family helps out.

“Paul … my stepfather … sits down and goes through the pieces we have and figures out what we’re going to use that particular year,” he said.

Once the display is planned out, Mousseu makes sure the wire frames are working properly.

“We check the lights, we check the figures, make sure everything’s all set … dig through the piles of stuff we have, bring them down and set them up,” he said. The lights are turned on each night from Thanksgiving until Christmas.

Jobin puts his lights up before Thanksgiving in the afternoons while the weather is nice.

“Generally, I start with things that are off the ground until the leaves are gone. So on the house, on the roof, on the bushes, on the trees — that typically gets done first,” he said. Once the leaves are cleaned up, Jobin will start putting out the ground displays. Like Mousseu, he lights his display on Thanksgiving night.

A few days after Christmas, Mousseu takes his lights down in one day.

“It’s one day, assuming we don’t have 2 feet of snow,” Mousseu said. “If we have 2 feet of snow, it’s probably a couple of days and it’s a little more difficult.”

When Mousseu takes the figures down, he sets them into two garages to thaw out before stacking them side-by-side in an attic until next season.

When Jobin takes his decorations down, he puts away the things on the ground first, like the arches over the driveway and the decorations along the street. Then he removes the lights from the trees before taking things off the house.

“Some of the stuff on the house stays up,” he said, “But for the most part we take as much as we can down as quickly as we can.”

Mousseu and Jobin both said that they host annual light shows because it gives them an opportunity to connect with the people in their communities.

“[It’s] the joy of seeing people see it for the season,” Mousseu said.

“They were kids when their parents were bringing them,” Jobin said, “and now they’ve grown up … and they’re bringing their kids.”

More local light shows

An Otterson Christmas is at 37 Otterson Road in Londonderry. Visit

Callaway Christmas Light Show is at 15 Pasture Drive in Goffstown. Visit

Christmas in the Kings is at 3 King Edward Drive in Londonderry. Visit

The Daly Family’s Festival of Lights is at 51 Pond Lane in Fremont. Visit

Holt Family Christmas is at 118 Marathon Way in Manchester. Visit

Hudson Christmas is at 75 Pelham Road in Hudson. Visit

Jobin Christmas Lights is at 8 Stephen Drive in Bedford. Visit

Lamprey Village Lights is at Lamprey Village Drive in Epping. See “Lamprey Village Christmas Lights” on Facebook.

Lights on Legacy Drive is at 75 Legacy Drive in Manchester. Visit

The Southern NH Tour of Lights features addresses from 14 towns, coordinated by their Parks and Recreation Departments. Put your address on the list by Dec. 4; a master list of addresses will be released Dec. 8, according to Participating towns include Amherst, Auburn, Bedford, Danville, Derry, Goffstown, Hampstead, Hudson, Litchfield, Londonderry, Merrimack, Nashua, Pelham, and Windham.

The Southwest NH Tour of Lights features the towns of Amherst, Milford, Troy, Fitzwilliam, Rindge, Greenfield, Swanzey, Antrim, Peterborough, Jaffrey and Keene. Those Parks and Recreation departments will be taking locations through Dec. 3, with a viewing starting Dec. 9

Q&A with Justine Callaway of Callaway Christmas Light Show in Goffstown

When did you start doing this and what inspired you to do so?

I’ve been doing it for about 11 years I would say. My son is almost 13 now and I saw that he enjoyed Christmas lights when he was born. It started a little small [with] a couple of Christmas lights [and] he seemed to really enjoy it and it just kept growing from there. Then I would say about nine or 10 years ago we started collecting money for charity and then it became an additional cause to keep doing it every year. … My son started it and then the charities kept it going.

House, garage and yard decoraded with christmas lights of different colors
Callaway Christmas Lights. Courtesy photo.

How do you go about raising money for those charities?

We’ve always chosen a veterans-based charity and effectively we offer a QR code for people to be able to donate online and we also take donations through a little public service announcement in the middle of the show and people donate with cash in … a little donation bin beneath the mailbox. People have donated a lot. I would say since we started raising money we’re a little over $60,000 in charitable donations that we’ve just passed right on to three different charities over the course of the last few years.

What are the names of those charities?

We started with the Wounded Warrior Project and then we did Homes For Our Troops and now we have a local charity called the Worker Bee Fund and that’s a Goffstown-based charity that does work for local veterans.

What goes into preparing and assembling the light displays?

It’s lots of time out in the cold. … There’s a lot of time spent setting up the lights, probably seven or eight full days of time… . A lot of time … goes into writing the programs that make the music go with the lights and broadcast so people can catch it when they’re at the show.

How do you go about matching the lights with the music?

There’s a software package that I use that allows me to listen to the song and then create effects for each of the lights on the house as I go. So I have to listen to the song … in little five- to 10-second increments. I probably listen to each song that I program 200 times so … when I hear it in the show [it’s] a little less enjoyable since I’ve listened to that same song 200 times over and over again, but it basically is me sitting at a computer telling the software what to do so that it times to the lights every time I change an effect for one of the different parts of the show.

Do you have a background in doing stuff like that or did you learn specifically for this?

No, I’m very bad at it, probably in reality. It may take other people less time than me. I do have an engineering degree but it has nothing to do with this type of programming … I think I have seven networks that I have to run in my front yard and a number of other things that I had to learn as I went along, so it helped that I built it slowly because it was hard to get those things figured out easier.

When did you start incorporating the music with it?

That was probably … 10 years ago so that second year I think I added music. It was very simple, I think I just had 10 windows that would change color with the music and now there’s obviously a lot more in the yard as well.

How do you feel it has grown in popularity?

I think it’s been … pretty steady for the last three or four years. I think people loved it during Covid because they had to stay separate from others … [and] were out looking for something to do, [and] I think people were looking for that sort of display. The best part is … you can hear … the kids screaming ‘There’s Santa!’ or singing along with the songs and that sort of thing. … A lot of people tell me we’ve been doing it long enough that it’s part of their family traditions around Thanksgiving or around Christmas so it’s definitely become a high-pressure situation to get it started on time.

How many lights do you incorporate every year?

We use something called pixels, so each pixel can change the color … any time, and we have about 35,000 pixels. … I also have little blinking strobe lights, probably another 10,000.

How do you keep everything protected from the weather elements?

They’re just laying out there in the grass and … they’re low voltage, most of them, so they don’t end up shorting out when there’s water and moisture.

How will the show be different this year?

This year we’ve added a couple of new elements that I have yet to figure out so I’m reluctant to tell you, but we’re hoping to add something basically every year. This year we’re adding two little trees that will sing along with the music so they’ve got eye motions and mouth motions … just to … tie the music in a little bit better.

Mya Blanchard

Featured photo: The Proposal Ball at the LaBelle Lights. Photo by Mya Blanchard.

This Week 23/11/30

Big Events November 30, 2023 and beyond

Friday, Dec. 1

The Bedford Women’s Club’s “Festival of Trees & Holiday Market” runs today from 4 to 7 p.m. and tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bedford Old Town Hall (70 Bedford Center Road). Admission is free and the event will feature a guest appearance by Santa Claus on Saturday, live music, more than 25 decorated artificial trees that will be raffled, and vendors, according to

Friday, Dec. 1

It’s Midnight Merriment! Tonight from 5 p.m. to midnight, get holiday cheer and shopping opportunities in downtown Concord. The evening will include an appearance by Santa, strolling carolers, a dance party with DJ Nazzy, the Concord Art Market Winter Giftopolis and more. For details, check out the story on page 18 in the Nov. 23 issue of the Hippo; see for the e-edition.

Friday, Dec. 1

Catch a screening of the holiday “indie dark(ish) comedy”Merry Good Enough, a movie directed by Caroline Keene and Dan Kennedy that was a winner at the 2023 New Hampshire Film Festival for Best NH Feature Narrative, tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Rex Theatre (23 Amherst St. in Manchester; Tickets cost $10. See the trailer at

Friday, Dec. 1

Or go even darker with Fright Kingdom’s The Fright Before Christmas haunted attraction (described on the website as being “extremely scary,” where you will encounter “rabid reindeer, crazed carolers, cannibalistic elves”) running today from 7 to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 2, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 3, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $35. Visit

Saturday, Dec. 2

Head to Elm Street today at 3 p.m. to watch oodles of runners in Santa suits run in the 3-mile BASC Santa Claus Shuffle, which features stops with the four Santa food groups — chocolate, cookies and milk, candy, and maple, according to, which will explain how to register if you want to take part yourself. A Stonyfield Organic Lil’ Elf Run (of 100 yards) starts at 2:30 p.m.

Then at 4 p.m. settle in for the annual Manchester Holiday Parade, which will head down Elm Street from Brady Sullivan tower to Victory Park and feature a variety of floats and marchers. For more details on the parade, check out the story on page 19 in the Nov. 23 issue of the Hippo.

Sunday, Dec. 3

The NH Music Collective Sunday Sessions will feature Ryan Williamson & The hArt of Sound today at 6 p.m. at the Cantin Room at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage (16 S. Main St. in Concord, Tickets cost $18.75. Find more ticketed concerts this weekend and beyond in our Concert listings on page 38.

Save the Date! Saturday, Dec. 28
Looking for entertainment options for that final week of December? The Harlem Globetrotters 2024 will come to the SNHU Arena (555 Elm St., Manchester, 644-5000, on Thursday, Dec. 28, at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets cost $44 through $134, with pre-game VIP options.

Featured photo: The Santa Shuffle. Courtesy photo.

Quality of Life 23/11/30

Bird page

Bird enthusiasts can now delve into the world of local avian life through New Hampshire Audubon’s new interactive website dedicated to New Hampshire’s birds. This comprehensive portal, accessible within the New Hampshire Audubon website, provides an in-depth look at the current status of birds in New Hampshire, the challenges they encounter and the actions that can be taken for their conservation. The site allows users to explore information sorted by breeding habitats and species groups, including waterfowl, birds of prey, shorebirds, aerial insectivores and ocean birds. It also offers insights into migration cycles and a resources page filled with bird conservation-related links. Visit

QOL score: +1

Comment:“Why pay attention to birds?” the website asks and answers: “New Hampshire’s birds are an integral part of our ecosystem. They can tell us about our environment, and what the birds are telling us may be important, not only to their survival but to ours.”


In a CommercialSearch study, Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire, was recognized among the top 30 metro areas for career advancement, placing 10th with 56 points. The metrics spotlighting New Hampshire included the second-lowest unemployment rate at 2.3 percent, the fourth-best student-to-teacher ratio with 11 students per faculty, and the fourth-highest job mobility for high-skill workers at 3.9 percent. Additionally, Manchester noted a 7.5 percent growth in the percentage of high qualified jobs, adding 2,120 such positions in one year. The study, aimed at identifying metros with the best career development opportunities, evaluated factors like education and labor market conditions.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Manchester-Nashua was the only metro area from the Northeast that ranked in the top 10 for career development, representing the region amidst a list otherwise dominated by Western metros.

Helping out

The New Hampshire Bankers Association completed its third annual #NHBanksGiveBack month of service in October. According to a press release, the event saw participation from 27 member banks, which engaged in community service activities and financial contributions. This year’s efforts amounted to more than 3,186 volunteer hours across 382 events, with a total of $504,900 in monetary donations. The activities included shred events, food and clothing donations, soup kitchen work, and financial literacy outreach, among others.

QOL score: +1

Comment: “In just three short years, the volunteer efforts of our member banks have contributed more than $1.3 million in financial support to our state and communities, backed by over 5,000 volunteer hours spread out over more than 800 charitable events,” Kristy Merrill, President of New Hampshire Bankers, said in the release.

QOL score: 84

Net change: +3

QOL this week: 87

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A dynasty gone kaput

The Big Story – The Fall of the Patriots Empire: It just keeps getting worse and worse. Every time you think it can’t go lower for the Patriots it does.

It seemed the bottom couldn’t be any lower after humiliating back-to-back losses to the Cowboys and Saints by a combined 69 points. Then came a 21-17 loss to the dysfunctional Raiders a week away from firing their plainly over his coach Josh McDaniels.

But Sunday’s loss to the hapless Giants is the worst so far. For a second straight week they couldn’t outscore a team they held to just 10 points, despite being able to move the ball on the ground with 144 rushing yards, after 167 the week before, in large part because of the indecisive, mistake-prone puddle of doubt and insecurity Mac Jones has devolved into.

After consecutive losses at the hands of three terrible teams, they are in the running for the first overall pick at 2-9.

Sports 101: Who is the NBA leader in most fouls committed?

News Item – Jordan Montgomery, No Way: Given how he pitched after landing in Texas at the trade deadline, the lefty hurler will soon be a hot commodity, and the rumor mill has the Red Sox kicking the tires. But while price is the ultimate deciding factor, there’s no way the Sox should drop big cash on a guy after a two-month hot streak. The record says after seven seasons he’s 38-34 with a decent 3.68 ERA.

News Item – NBA In-Season Tournament: Three reactions to the NBA in-season tournament: (1) Who cares? (2) The courts specifically made for the tournament are unsafe for players, idiotic at best to viewers and blasphemy in Boston Garden. (3) And only a doofus doesn’t know it’s a ploy to juice merchandise sales from goobers who’ll buy anything.

News Item – Alumni News: Not a good week for ex-Celtics sent away in depth-sapping off-season trades. First Lob It To Rob Williams didn’t even make it through Week 1 before going down for the season after knee surgery. Then Malcolm Brogdon goes down for a few weeks with a hamstring issue, followed by news out of Memphis Marcus Smart will miss three to five weeks after spraining his foot.

The Numbers:

7 – number showing reality won over nonsense hype given to the ever obnoxious Deion Sanders, as it’s the number of consecutive losses Colorado had to close at 4-8 after he was all but given Coach of the Year honors after a 3-0 start.

75 –millions of dollars still owed to Jimbo Fisher after his firing as Texas A&M football coach last week. How much freaking money do these football programs have?

Of the Week Award

Thumbs Up – Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks: Whose players according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale voted an inordinately high number of full World Series money shares (61 and 71 worth $311,000 and $506,000 respectively) to include clubhouse attendants and support staff that helped them get to the Series to make that extra money. Bravo.

Random Thoughts:

Listening to Matt Bonner while sitting in on a recent Celtics broadcast in Toronto I say give that kid a TV gig. He was smart, concise, funny and likable. And I swear his legendary Concord-ite dad Big Dave Bonner didn’t make me say this.

Given her general nastiness to anyone not on her political side, I must say I’m getting a kick out of the flak Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is getting for spending $13,081.36 in public money on an invite-only party to kick off the U of A’s football season. Especially since the “Undefeated” season party badly missed the mark with the Razorbacks going 4-8 after the bash.

Sports 101 Answer: Not surprisingly the NBA leader in fouls committed is 20-year veteran Kareem Abdul Jabbar with 4,657, followed by Karl Malone, Artis Gilmore, Robert Parish and ex-76er Caldwell Jones to round out the top five.

Final Thought – Kristaps Porzingis Injury Watch Begins: Everyone knew the risk bringing him to Boston: a lack of durability that’s held him to just 54 games per since 2020, which was preceded by missing an entire season with a torn ACL.

And now it begins. He missed one at the 11-game mark, then went out early in Game 15 with a strained calf that will see him miss at least four games, including vs. Joel Embiid and the 76ers.

I’m not second-guessing trading for him. But his lack of durability was one reason I opposed giving up Rob Williams in the Jrue Holiday trade, because he was proven depth behind him. But given what’s happened to him, that’s a moot point.

What it all means is that Brad Stevens needs to find someone to reliably fill in for him. Though after the C’s depth and draft resources were wiped out by his two big off-season deals it’s hard to see how he’ll do that. Email Dave Long at

Email Dave Long at

News & Notes 23/11/30

School funds

The Manchester School District has been awarded a new GEAR UP grant totaling $4.8 million, to be distributed over seven years. According to a press release, this grant from the U.S. Department of Education will support college and career readiness programs, with an emphasis on serving students from middle school through high school graduation. The funding enables the hiring of full-time staff for programming, training and professional development. The GEAR UP NH project, managed by Campus Compact for NH, focuses on early academic readiness, career exploration, dual enrollment and postsecondary persistence. Interventions include academic tutoring, out-of-school activities, college visits, financial literacy workshops and more, aiming to close the state’s equity gaps and aid students in realizing their aspirations. The district will have access to the funds starting January 2024.

School contracts

In other Manchester school news, the Manchester Board of School Committee recently endorsed tentative contract agreements with five unions representing a broad array of District employees, including educators, principals, support staff and administration. According to a press release, the next step for these agreements is obtaining approval from the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Negotiations, which started in the fall, are part of the District’s strategy to bolster recruitment and retention as current contracts are due to expire by June 30, 2024. The agreements will proceed to the aldermen for a vote scheduled for Dec. 5, following approval by union members and the School Committee.


Tripp Harrison has been appointed as the new president and CEO of Goodwill Northern New England, succeeding Richard J. Cantz. Bringing experience from his previous role as President and CEO of Goodwill of South Mississippi, Harrison joins at a pivotal time as the nonprofit expands services and advances sustainability efforts, according to a press release. Goodwill Northern New England, serving Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, operates 29 stores and provides various programs supporting more than 17,000 individuals annually. Harrison’s track record includes growth, complex problem-solving and partnership-building. He said in the release that he aims to enhance the organization’s community impact, employee support and customer service, building on his past successes in retail operations, mission services and community partnerships across different regions. Goodwill NNE, an autonomous nonprofit, focuses on services for adults with disabilities, workforce development, and sustainability, contributing to local community needs.

Committee openings

The New Hampshire Insurance Department has announced the reactivation of the Mental Health and Addiction Services Advisory Committee, which had been inactive since July 2021 due to Covid-19 challenges. According to a press release, the committee will resume advising the Insurance Commissioner on improving access to mental health and substance use disorder services through private insurance and aims to enhance service delivery, advise on regulatory actions and implement new legal requirements. There are still vacant positions, and the Department invites interested individuals to apply. The Insurance Department remains a resource for the public regarding insurance marketplace matters.

Feedback wanted

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), in collaboration with the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) and the UNH Center on Aging and Community Living, is seeking public input on the state’s Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) for older adults and people with disabilities. According to a press release, this initiative, funded by the CMS “Money Follows the Person” Demonstration Expansion award, aims to evaluate and enhance New Hampshire’s system of long-term services and supports. Public forums, both in-person and virtual, are scheduled for December to gather stakeholder input. The findings will contribute to a final report due in June 2024, offering recommendations to improve community integration and independence for service users. DHHS encourages individuals, caregivers and stakeholders to participate in these sessions and provide feedback via email or attend the listening sessions detailed in the announcement. Email

Political praise

House Speaker Sherman Packard (R-Londonderry) has been named the 2023 recipient of the Tom Thomson Defender of Liberty Award by the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), according to a press release. In his second term as speaker, Packard’s leadership has been pivotal in a closely divided New Hampshire House, through efforts that include the voice vote passage of the state budget, the accelerated repeal of the state’s interest and dividends tax and bipartisan efforts in bail reform and housing, the release said. The award will be presented at the AFP Christmas Party on Dec. 19.

Lincoln Avenue Communities (LAC) hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for The Residences at Chestnut in Manchester on Nov. 29. According to a press release, the event marked the start of construction on the affordable housing development, addressing Manchester’s housing shortage. Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and LAC Vice President Scott Shaw were among the speakers. LAC, a subsidiary of Lincoln Avenue Capital, develops affordable housing across 26 states.

Bridge preservation work was set to begin Nov. 29 on the Patten Hill Road bridge over Route 101 in Candia, according to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. The work will require a lane closure, with traffic controlled by alternating stop and yield signs on either side of the bridge. Weather permitting, the project is expected to take about five months. Motorists are encouraged to consider signing up for real-time construction and traffic updates via text or email from

Mount Pleasant Elementary School in Nashua, a recipient of a 2023-2024 CLiF Year of the Book grant, hosted an event on Nov. 28 with children’s author Matt Forrest Esenwine and Nashua Public Library, marking the occasion of approximately 50 students receiving their first library cards. Funded by the Children’s Literacy Center of Waterbury Center, Vermont, the school was awarded a $25,000 grant for literacy programming, which includes supporting author visits.

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