SKOWHEGAN — A free showing of the 1996 movie “Jingle All the Way,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, cellphone calls from Santa Claus and the grand entry of the Jolly Old Elf on the town’s new $950,000 ladder truck during the big parade Friday night all promise to highlight the two-day Holiday Stroll this year in downtown.
Darcy Spooner at Country Crow Primitives on Water Street, the events organizer, said the parade starts at 7 p.m. at the Skowhegan Savings Bank parking lot and will wind its way through downtown to Redington Memorial Home. Festivities continue on Saturday with breakfast and photos with Santa at the Federated Church, a petting zoo, horse-drawn wagon rides, children’s activities, bake sales, hot cocoa and a bonfire with marshmallow roasting all in the heart of downtown.
The Holiday Stroll in Skowhegan is in its 24th year, and if previous years are any indication, the downtown area will fill up for the parade Friday and for shopping and fun stuff on Saturday, said Kristina Cannon, executive director of event sponsor Main Street Skowhegan.
“My parade list is crazy. We’ve got more than 30 participants, including the field hockey team, Lambert Run Farm, Leaping Lizards Reptile Zoo, Life Church, Midge’s Theater Arts and routines by Bradley’s School of Dance and Top Hat Dance,” Cannon said.
Cannon will lead the parade seated next to Brooke Harris, of Portland, Miss Maine USA, and Victoria Timm, of Scarborough, Miss Maine Teen USA, driving in a 2015 Mustang convertible from High Ford.
“The parade lasts for a good half-hour,” Cannon said. “People start lining up as early as 4:30. They pack the streets before the parade. Downtown businesses stay open late.”
“Our stores are filled with people,” Spooner added. “They are filled until the parade and then after the parade when my store fills back up with people.”
Events get going early Friday with sign-up at the Children’s Cottage for a phone call from Santa, a Holiday Bazaar at the public library at 10 a.m. and the free movie at the Strand Cinema on Court Street at 4:30 p.m. There will be free hot cocoa at The Bankery in the downtown Pocket Park, where there also will be hot soup for sale, and at the Masonic Lodge there will be hot cocoa and coffee.
At 5:30 p.m., an annual remembrance ceremony called Lights to Remember will get under way with the reading of names and the lighting of candles at the Federated Church to be followed by a tree lighting at the fire station across the street.
Saturday’s events begin with breakfast with Santa, movie pass bargains at the cinema, a petting zoo from Tessier’s Farm from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., craft fairs, yo-yo making, snowman soup and the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt, where shoppers look for hidden elves in downtown locations for a chance to win two movie passes and a gift card from The Bankery.
The bonfire and marshmallow roast are from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the municipal parking lot, horse and wagon rides are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the municipal lot and visits with Santa and Christmas story readings at nearby Somerset Public Health are from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. There also will be a knit-along at Happyknits on Court Street inside the old county jail and the unveiling of Rama Brown’s mural “River of Dreams” at noon behind River Roads Artisan Gallery.
“We’re looking forward to the fun, family crowd,” Spooner said. “The forecast is looking promising.”
There also is a Parents Night Out babysitting group from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Federated Church with pizza provided at $20 per child.
For a complete list of times and events, go to Main Street Skowhegan’s holiday stroll website.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367