HALLOWELL — If you’ve ever been to an Old Hallowell Day event, “serious” probably isn’t the word you’d use to describe it.

“I think everyone here is serious about celebrating our 250th anniversary,” Mayor Charlotte Warren said. “We really wanted to host the biggest party in central Maine.”

And it was a bit more serious. While the day’s main event, the morning parade down Water Street, kept standards such as dance exhibitions, lively musicians and stumping politicians, it had a more unified theme than usual: appreciation of history.

Past winners of Hallowell’s annual Citizen of the Year award rode a trolley in the procession, and balloons were released skyward bearing names of past award winners who have died. Later, Revolutionary War re-enactors invaded the grounds of the Vaughan Homestead, off Litchfield Road.

The Row House preservation organization hauled the Old Thunder Jug, an 1800s-era cannon it recently restored. Members of the Apostolic Church in Augusta sang songs under a covered wagon-like float, dressed like pioneers.

The planning started about a year ago, when the Old Hallowell Day Committee and the 250th Anniversary Committee started coordinating in hope of making this year’s celebration bigger than normal.

Susan MacPherson, the Old Hallowell Day Committee’s executive director, said early in the day they might have achieved that goal.

She said 199 people pre-registered for the 5-kilometer morning road race — the most ever — and parade entries were close to, but slightly up from the amount last year.

“We really wanted to keep it under an hour,” she said of the parade. “Past that, people really lose interest.”

A list distributed before the parade showed 70 entries, and the parade ran about 15 minutes over the hour.

By most accounts, crowds were up as well. Police Chief Eric Nason said before the parade that the number of people downtown in the morning was a bit higher than normal.

“We came down in the mayor’s car and there were so many people,” Warren said. “So many familiar faces and so many new faces.”

Also, the annual pie contest was replaced by a cake contest, in accordance with the birthday theme. MacPherson said there were more cakes entered than pies last year.

Matt Scease had one of the city’s best jobs of the day: judging about 30 cakes in four categories, laid out on tables outside Slates Bakery. The four judges ate slivers of cake from small cups as onlookers milled about, waiting for judging to cease and the cakes to be sold off.

“Small breakfast, no candy at the parade,” Scease said of his preparation routine. “I’m drinking a little water to cleanse the palate.”

There was one big cake in the parade too — a 12-foot-high, green birthday-cake float entered by zany NoHa, the group composed mostly of residents from Pleasant and Page streets in the city’s north end, near the Augusta line.

The float had a door with a ladder leading up to a lookout, where Alan Stearns, functioning as the cake’s candle, emceed for the parade’s length.

The group let a reporter inside after the parade, and it took a hot wriggle through a trap door and a claustrophobic climb to reach the top inside the structure, built of wood atop a trailer.

“We had the trailer, so we had to build the cake to fit,” said Christy Cross, of Pleasant Street, whose son built the structure. “If we had to pay the builder, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

She said it took a while to build, but she kept the exact amount of time a secret.

The ambition shouldn’t have been a shock. The NoHa group is a perennial parade award-winner. This year was no different — they took home the Grand Marshal’s Award for best overall float and were called most original by judges as well.

“It got a little bigger than expected,” Cross said.

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