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SALEM — It was a gingerbread holiday in Salem Saturday as the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its 10th annual holiday parade and festivities. Gingerbread houses and gingerbread people were highlights of the parade, and a gingerbread house contest, organized by the Bancroft Public Library, raised money for the Salem Food Pantry.

Twenty members of the Cool 2B Kind Kids club at Salem Central School, an anti-bullying group for students in grades 4-6, were dressed up as gingerbread people on their float. One of the club advisors loaned the group a toy log playhouse as the base for a gingerbread house that the students decorated, said Amy Ruggles, the other advisor.

Going slightly off-theme, the Salem Washington Academy Drama Club came with a puppet of Audrey, the carnivorous plant in their upcoming production of “The Little Shop of Horrors.” A few club members were on other floats, but most were walking with the club, their faculty advisor, Jason Laselva said. The club was back in the parade after missing a few years.

“The puppets we got (for the play) were great,” he said, “and the kids are really, really strong. We have a good mix of kids in grades 7 to 12.” Show dates are Dec. 13 and 14.

Some of the floats and tractors were also in last Saturday’s lighted tractor parade in Greenwich. One of them was the Salem FFA’s float, “A Barnyard Christmas.” The float featured a real goat owned by member Christine Austin, the other FFA members wearing animal masks and a barn decorated for the holidays.

“We got to double dip,” said Salem FFA member Phil Rea. “We’re not always in this parade, but we’re always in (Salem’s) 4th of July parade.”

Other participants included Grand Marshall Lily Gallagher, a senior at Salem Central School; the Susi Shoe Dancers, a local dance troupe that raises funds to help get shoes and other necessities to kids in need; the Troy Oriental Shriners; members of the 4JFarmm Horse Club in Argyle; Washington County Dairy Princess MacKenzie Spencer with members of her court; Salem Girl Scout Troop 3061; the Waite-Harsha and Nolan families; crews and vehicles from the Salem and Rupert fire department and Salem Rescue Squad; and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus. The Washington County Draft Animal Association provided several wagons and horses to pull them.

Organizer Laura Dunham said the parade had 19 entries. “I thought it was great,” she said. “I was really touched by the amount of work everyone put into their floats. The horses are always a hit.” Winners were the Cool 2B Kind Kids in the youth division, the Susi Show Dancers in the adult division and Santa and Mrs. Claus’s miniature white horses in the animal division.

The library’s gingerbread house contest had 38 entries, said organizer Karen Hickland. “A bunch were done by the elementary school council,” Hickland said. Their building materials included gingerbread cookies, candies, pretzels, brightly colored breakfast cereals and lots of frosting. The winner, chosen by donations to the Salem Food Pantry, was a gingerbread version of the landmark Victorian buildings at Salem’s main intersection, created by Kim Erbe and Simon Hickland.

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