A little boy reacts to Santa waving to him at the Riverhead Lions Santa parade in 2017. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Hundreds turned out for the Santa parade and holiday bonfire in downtown Riverhead this afternoon.

Excited kids lined Main Street, craning their necks to get the first glimpse of the event’s guests of honor.

Veterans, volunteer firefighters and EMS, Scouts, antique automobiles and antique tractors filed in with floats featuring all sorts of holiday scenes in a parade that took about 40 minutes to make its way along Main Street from Osborn Avenue to McDermott Avenue and down to the riverfront, where a huge blazing bonfire awaited.

The warmth of the bonfire was welcome relief for parade spectators, who were chilled by the crisp late afternoon air as the sun set.

Councilman James Wooten and volunteer Vincent Cederna built the bonfire, Wooten said. They kept the blaze going with the assistance of volunteer Tommy Lassandro. In all, they would use four cords of wood before the evening was over.

“I’m so glad the decision was made not to have it yesterday because of the wet weather,” Wooten said. “Combining the two events was really a great idea. Look at the turnout,” he said. This was the first time the Lions Club parade — now in its 62nd year — and the town’s holiday bonfire were held together. The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was postponed due to inclement weather.

Parade spectators walked to the riverfront to see the bonfire and children got to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the gingerbread house the BID had built for that purpose several years ago.

A DJ played Christmas songs for sing-a-long caroling and the BID served free hot cocoa to the crowd.

(Check back tomorrow for event video.)

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti


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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.