MANCHESTER, NH – Gloria Druin hasn’t missed a Holiday Lights bus tour yet. She’s lived in the city her whole life, and was happy to share this year’s tour with her sister, Theresa Ahern. The two lingered over refreshments inside the Police Athletic League/Officer Michael Briggs Community Center on Beech Street, after touring some spectacular outdoor light displays together, courtesy of the city’s fleet of buses.
“I think because of the power outage people didn’t have a chance to get lights up,” said Ahern. Her sister agreed, that compared to other years, lights were lacking.
But the sisters said they feel blessed to have the Manchester Police Department on their side, and so many great opportunities to socialize.
“They do so much for us,” said Druin, who is also part of the city’s senior walking program, led by Manchester Police Officer Mark Ampuja.
“Everyone at this table, we all walk together. That’s how we met,” said Druin, who mentioned that they also take advantage of the indoor walking program at the Parish of the Transfiguration on Kelley Street, and participate in the senior exercise program at Sacred Heart.
“If people are bored in Manchester, it’s because they want to be. There’s a lot of free stuff out there, and you meet a lot of nice people,” said Ahern.
The annual holiday bus tour and Christmas party cap off a year of activities involving the city’s senior citizens, to keep them active and engaged, according to Chief David Mara. The year-end party is a collaborative effort by the Manchester Police Department, Manchester Police Crimeline, Manchester Transit Authority, Manchester Police Athletic League and Home Instead Senior Care in Manchester.
This was the seventh annual tour and party, which drew 150 sightseers, said Officer Ampuja.
“We had to turn another 150 away – we were all filled up and still getting calls,” he said, monitoring the cookie table inside the PAL Center. “We’d love to have them, but we only have so much room here.”
Buses rolled out of the JFK Coliseum parking lot at 5:30 p.m. and wound their way around Manchester and Bedford, with specific stops along the way – including Santa’s Workshop on Stephen Drive in Bedford, where Santa and Mrs. Claus boarded the buses and handed out candy canes to all the riders.
Back at the PAL Center, music was provided by Songs With Molly, a four member band that included James Tardiff, son of Manchester Police Officer Scott Tardiff, vocalist Molly Cloutier, drummer Tyler MacPherson and Devon MacPherson on bass guitar.
Carol Bond and Sandi Luken were feeling particularly festive in their matching Santa hats. They work together at the “mothership” Dunkin’ Donuts on South Willow Street.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Luken. “But we always have fun together – we’re the dynamic duo.”
If you would like to go on your own guided tour of some of the best light shows going, here’s the list:
Sandstone Drive: From Milford Street go west on Donald Street to the fork, then bear right onto Donald Street extension. Sandstone is your first right.
Stephen Drive: Exit Sandstone and turn right onto Donald Street extension. Then turn left onto Rundlett Hill Road. Go straight at the four way stop sign. Rundlett Hill Road turns into Hazen Road. From Hazen Road, turn left onto Stephen Drive. The whole street in decorated and at the end of the street you will find Santa’s Workshop.
Wyoming Avenue between South Elm Street and Calef R0ad.
Wilmot Street between Calef Road and S. Beech Street
Depot Road & River Bank Road off of Brown Ave.