City announces Holiday Parade Grand Marshals

December 4, 2021

Mayor Rick Becksted has announced that the Grand Marshals for the 2021 Illuminated Holiday Parade & Food Drive on Saturday, December 4, 2021 are the “Project Planter Box” team – the students and advisors who designed, built and filled the wood planters that topped the street-dining barricades all summer. The Grand Marshals will lead the parade that kicks off the holiday season in Portsmouth.

“The Grand Marshals were chosen for their generosity of spirit and the work-together attitude that was exemplified in the building of fifty innovative planter boxes and filling them with colorful plants that helped beautify the concrete barriers downtown,” said Mayor Becksted, in making the announcement.

In February 2021, having survived the 2020 pandemic wave, the Blue Ribbon Committee on Reopening Portsmouth, chaired by James Petersen and the late Mark Stebbins, discussed how to improve the appearance of the barriers defining dining spaces in the streets. The committee advanced the concept of a unified design scheme and topping the barriers with planter boxes. A subcommittee of design professionals, Anne Weidman and Alan Gold, as mentors and logistics coordinators enlisted the help of the Portsmouth High School Career Tech Education (CTE) Program Architecture and Design Build Instructor Steve Jones and 15 students to build the wood planters. On April 8, the students went to work; and by May 18 had completed 50 planters. After a volunteer crew put them in place, the Portsmouth High School Eco Club with club advisor and PHS Science Educator Kimberly McGlinchey filled the planters with herbs and perennials selected to last through the fall. 

Steeped in tradition, the Portsmouth Illuminated Holiday Parade aims to highlight collaborative efforts by residents, businesses and organizations, aided by staff, throughout the City. It also highlights the generosity and service commitment demonstrated by the high school students’ collection of donated nonperishable items for the annual food drive along the parade route. Collaboration, generosity and service are exemplified by the Planter Box Project and are the reasons the students and advisors were selected as the 2021 Grand Marshals.

The Illuminated Holiday Parade steps off at 6 pm on Saturday, December 4 (rain/snow date is Sunday, December 5). For more parade information, including street closures and parking restrictions, click here.


Holiday Parade