AUGUSTA — A Grammy-nominated singer and Waterville native known internationally for her performances at over-the-top Christmas displays synced to her music will help light the city’s holiday tree Saturday.

Tree lighting festivities in Augusta will also include a dip into the cold water of an outdoor pool, just outside Fort Western, to raise money for Bicentennial Nature Park.

And it’ll be the last time the old blue spruce, lit by the city for the holidays for decades, will be the focal point of the festivities. The downtown tree will be cut down next year when a new, larger, redesigned park will be built at Market Square.

The last lighting of the spruce Saturday will feature a performance by Grammy-nominated singer Judy Pancoast, who will sing original songs and holiday classics.

Pancoast was nominated for a Grammy in 2011 for her CD for children, “Weird Things are Everywhere!” But the song that likely has more to do with her Augusta performance is “The House on Christmas Street,” her 1998 tribute to the massive holiday light displays she says she has loved all her life.

Darryl Zeleniak, whose own elaborate music-synced holiday light display at his 132 State St. office draws numerous gawkers annually, said the song has made Pancoast a cult figure to Christmas decoration enthusiasts like himself worldwide.


Zeleniak, owner of Augusta Orthodontics, and Pancoast chatted after she performed and spoke at the Christmas Expo in Tennessee in July, which Zeleniak described as a “gathering of the geeks” where they discuss their over-the-top holiday displays.

They connected over their mutual love of such displays, and their Maine ties, so Zeleniak asked if the New Hampshire resident would come to Augusta for the tree lighting. She agreed to do so, and the concert will kick off what she calls her fourth annual “The House on Christmas Street International Tour,” in which she sings her original and classic Christmas songs in concerts on the lawns and in the driveways of decorating enthusiasts across the country.

She is scheduled to perform at 5 p.m. Saturday, at the Key Plaza adjacent to Market Square on Water Street in downtown Augusta. It will be followed by the tree lighting. The show is part of an afternoon and evening of activities on both sides of the Kennebec River.

New at this year’s festivities is the Polar Plunge, in which supporters who garnered pledges will raise money by jumping into a pool that will be set up next to Fort Western. The money is aimed at keeping Bicentennial Nature Park, on Three-Corner Pond, operating next season.

The plunge is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Augusta, Augusta Kiwanis Club, and this year’s Kennebec Leadership Institute class, according to organizer Bob Dodge.

Dodge said they considered jumping into the river, but “we decided the currents were just too much in the river. And we didn’t want to lose any Augusta citizens.”


Returning popular attractions, according to Bruce Chase, recreation director for the city, include Santa Claus’ arrival downtown at noon, photographs with Santa and letters to Santa and kids crafts, Christmas at Old Fort Western events, and music, dance and twirling performances at Key Plaza.

Festivities will be capped off by fireworks over the river, around 5:45 p.m.

“It’s a great afternoon of family activities to ring in the holidays in downtown Augusta,” Chase said. “It’s a packed-full day.”

Keith Edwards – 621-5647[email protected]

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