Celebrations of the holiday season build this week, as area communities bring residents together for festivals and celebrations.

The third annual Madison Christmas Celebration is set for Saturday with a parade, fireworks, cookie decorating and a craft fair, among other events.

In Belgrade, the 17th annual Belgrade Lakes Village Holiday Stroll will include such traditional favorites as Christmas caroling, a tree lighting, music and a craft fair.

Most of the events in the region are free, and everything is open to the public.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the community to get together,” said Tim Curtis, Madison’s consultant for economic development. “Last year it was very cold, so a lot of people stayed in their cars, but the parking lot behind Renys was packed.”

Madison sponsors fireworks, which Curtis said are best seen from the parking lot behind Renys on Main Street, and a parade.

“We have a number of floats sponsored by area businesses in the parade and some people that are going to be riding their horses decorated, which I’m excited about,” said Kathy Lightbody, a member of the Christmas Celebration Committee. “We’ll as always have firetrucks, and we’ll be bringing Santa into town.”

The celebration is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Saturday with a pancake breakfast at Christ Community Fellowship and a craft fair at Maplecrest Nursing Home from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Activities are also scheduled throughout the day, including cookie decorating at Firehouse Bakery on Pine Street from noon to 4 p.m. and horse-drawn carriage rides that will be leaving from the town office between 2 and 5 p.m. A live Nativity scene will be on display outside Taylor’s Drug Store on Old Point Avenue.

The fireworks are scheduled for 5:15 p.m. and will be followed by a parade beginning on Maple Street and ending at the Madison Area Junior High School. Afterwards, Santa Claus will be at the Madison Public Library to visit with children. The celebration has been growing every year since it started in 2012, Curtis said.

“We’ve gotten a lot of sponsorships this year. A lot of people have given money to pay for different events which has enabled us to do so much for free,” Lightbody said.

The Belgrade Lakes Region Business Group sponsors the town’s holiday stroll, which is from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday.

The celebration will include visits with Santa at the Maine Lakes Resource Center, horse-drawn wagon rides and caroling with the Messalonskee High School chorus.

The giant Christmas tree in the village triangle will be lit at 4 p.m. Memorial luminaries will be displayed around the tree and along the street at a cost of $1 to benefit the Nora Birch Scholarship, in honor of a Messalonskee High School student from Belgrade who died earlier this year at the age of 17.

Businesses will have special events and raffles. There is a craft fair at the Community Center for All Seasons from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Belgrade Lakes Regional Health Center will host a fire pit, popcorn and children’s activities in the village, as well as take healthful recipes from the public for compilation in a community cookbook.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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