BY TOM DALTON
---- — BEVERLY — When Ben Goodell walked out of the GAR building last night, he could barely squeeze his costume through the door.
With two adults guiding him, the 10-year-old boy made it safely down the steps of the historic hall, which was no small feat. He was inside a 10-foot-tall costume of Snoopy sitting on a dog house.
“I reserved this last year because I really wanted it,” the fifth-grader said just before the start of the 2014 Beverly New Year parade.
Ben could barely see where he was going in his huge cardboard costume, but he was in no danger. A police officer watched his every step — a police officer who happens to be his father.
“He’s been in the doghouse all year,” joked officer Ted Goodell.
Ben was one of more than 100 marchers to participate in the annual parade, which wound its way down Cabot Street last night with Mayor Bill Scanlon in the lead car for his final New Year ride. Scanlon steps down next week after nearly two decades as the city’s mayor.
It was the first parade for the city’s new state senator, Joan Lovely of Salem. She smiled broadly as she carried a stick with a painted picture of a clown, or court jester.
The crowd that lined the street was impressive on a 23-degree night, but so were the number of marchers.
“There are as many people in the parade” as watching, said Patrick Kennedy, 47, who was decked out as the letter “R” — which proved an important role when it came time to spell out “NEW YEAR.”
It’s hard to describe the Beverly New Year’s celebration. With dinosaurs walking next to chickens and dragons marching alongside sea horses, it looks like something that spilled out of the pages of a children’s book.
It’s certainly an event full of surprises.
“Mom,” yelled 5-year-old Ava Solomos, as a costume caught her eye. “Look at the penguin!”
A large crowd assembled on Cabot Street for the ceremonial greeting of the New Year. At precisely 6:45 p.m. — give or take a minute — bags of beach balls were tossed from second-floor windows of Beverly National Bank.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.