Season starters: Niantic Stroll and Mystic Boat Parade

Mystic Holiday Lighted Boat Parade puts a nautical spin on the season.
Mystic Holiday Lighted Boat Parade puts a nautical spin on the season. Carole Drong

Quick! Finish scarfing down that turkey and cranberry sauce because it's time for Christmas, man!

The festivities begin in earnest Friday, with Santa materializing at Olde Mistick Village at noon and in downtown Westerly at 6 p.m.

Saturday brings the Norwich Winter Festival Parade and Light Up City Hall from 3 to 5 p.m., as well as the Niantic Holiday Stroll and the Mystic Lighted Boat Parade.

The Niantic Main Street stroll, which runs from 3 to 8 p.m., offers store and restaurant specials, horse-drawn carriage rides, caroling, and kids' games on the town green. The countdown to the tree lighting begins at 4:45 on the green, followed by the Snowflake Drop at 5 and then the much-anticipated arrival of Santa Claus - on a fire truck, no less - at 5:15. He'll visit with the kids afterward.

Santa makes his way to Mystic, too, although the jolly ol' elf arrives via the John Paul tugboat, at 2 p.m. at the Mystic River Park. Lots of holiday fun follows - and, yes, Santa will listen to tykes' wish list.

The Mystic River turns beautifully luminous when the Mystic Holiday Lighted Boat Parade begins at 6:15 p.m. Two-dozen boats - all decorated with festive lights - travel loops from Seaport Marine to the bridge (construction means the whole procession happens south of the bridge this year) and then circling back to the Amtrak Bridge. They'll tie up at Mystic River Park.

Organizers encourage folks to bring to the festivities an unwrapped toy for the donation to the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center.

- KRISTINA DORSEY

FRIDAY

Santa and Mrs. Claus, noon-3 p.m., Olde Mistick Village Meeting House, Coogan Blvd., Mystic; through Sat.; (860) 536-4941.

Santa's Arrival, 6 p.m., Westerly Square, High and Broad streets, Westerly; Santa and holiday characters arrive by fire truck with free coloring books and lollipops; sponsored by The Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce; in case of inclement weather, moves to Westerly Armory; (401) 596-7761.

SATURDAY

Niantic Holiday Stroll, 3-8 p.m., downtown Niantic; free; (860) 739-2550, discovereastlyme.com/nianticmainstreet.

Mystic Holiday Lighted Boat Parade, 6:15 p.m., Mystic River south of the Mystic Bridge; also, Santa arrives at 2 p.m. at Mystic River Park; (860) 572-9578, email alexa@mysticchamber.org.

Norwich Winter Festival Parade and Light Up City Hall, 3-5 p.m., City Hall and Chelsea Parade, Norwich; the lights will be turned on at 5 p.m.

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