The Nicest Place in New Hampshire: Temple

NICEST PLACES IN AMERICA 2020 FINALIST
"Birthday Parade"

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Even COVID-19 couldn’t stop this town from celebrating.

Emily Aborn was taking a walk through Temple when she heard honking, cheering, and sirens. In a big city, those high-decibel street sounds signal business as usual, but in Temple, a rural town of 1,300 in the mountains of Southern New Hampshire, it meant something special was happening. Aborn raced to the commotion and discovered the town’s first birthday parade.

In early May, a woman asked Temple Fire Chief George Clark whether he would consider driving by her house for her son’s birthday. Clark thought he could do even better. “Why don’t I combine what the teachers did, and do a birthday parade for everyone who had a birthday between March and the end of June?” Clark told Reader’s Digest.

Less than a month before, the Temple elementary school teachers had organized a drive-by parade for their students. Officials from the fire department, police department, and even the animal control officer joined the school’s teachers, principal, and janitor as they drove past each student’s home. They blared their horns and yelled positive messages. Teachers wrote their students’ names on their back windows and attached balloons to their cars.

Following the teacher parade playbook, Clark took to Facebook to invite anyone in the school system with an upcoming birthday to participate. Pretty soon the celebration expanded to residents of all ages, especially those who had a milestone birthday. In all, about 25 families signed on. “It turned out to be bigger than I thought it would be,” says Clark.

He mapped out a route, then he and his wife drove a practice run. Many of the rural homes on the list weren’t visible from the street so Clark wanted to provide the families with an estimated time of arrival so they could come outside and watch the festivities.

birthday paradeSarah Mattson/Courtesy George Clark
Temple Fire Chief George Clark made sure no one’s birthday was forgotten in his town.

The next day, at 1 pm, nearly 20 vehicles, including firetrucks and a police cruiser, kicked off the parade. The convoy rolled past the general store, library, town hall, church, hotel, restaurant, and tavern. “I looked back and as far as I could see, there were cars and lights,” says Clark. “It was fantastic.”

The group visited each house and sang “Happy Birthday.” At each stop on the parade route, the caravan of celebrants grew.

Clark says it was such a success, he’s planning another parade at the end of August.

“The parade was awesome,” Aborn says, adding, “The community is unbeatable. I don’t think we’re ever going to leave.”

The Nomination

Since the beginning of the virus and schools being closed, the elementary school my grandson goes to has been incredible. I’m actually tearing up as I write this. They leave bags of food on our porch daily but it goes far beyond that. The second week of school closures The ENTIRE town of officials including our fire dept, police dept, dog warden and every single teacher, janitor and principal gathered as a group to drive past every students home beeping horns and hollering positive messages. They then topped that by making another special trip to each students home in the beginning of May to celebrate all the birthdays of all the students. Our Fire Chief was first. He stopped in the truck and sang Happy Birthday . We had a visit by Scooby Doo and Goofy, one of the teachers took time to write every students name on her back window, lots of balloons and sirens. It was overwhelming. The kindness and compassion that this town showed the kids . And not one student was left out.

My grandkids and daughter moved from CT in October. From day one, the school has gone out of their way to welcome these kids into the community.

The school the kids attended in CT was the exact opposite of Temple Elementary. Fighting between students was encouraged as a way to” become friends.” Several parents of students would actually make fun of my grandchildren ( ages 5 and 8 ) for not having a pool or brand new car at home. School employees would either smirk or chuckle while witnessing these awful people. I’m sharing this to show how incredibly important this community has been to these 2. And my daughter.

The 2 pictures are of 2 happy kids after their first week here, attending a normal school with normal and KIND people that truly love kids and family alike.

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