WATERVILLE — Plans are in the works to create a holiday season in the city that will glow with lights and color, not only during the Parade of Lights and Kringleville, but also at a new event — the Sukeforth Festival of Trees at the Hathaway Creative Center.

The tree festival opens Nov. 20, when a section of the main floor at Hathaway will be adorned with 59 artificial trees donated and decorated by central Maine businesses and nonprofit organizations. Each tree will be decorated according to a theme. Gifts in keeping with the themes will be placed under the trees.

Kringleville, Santa Claus’ mini-workshop, is set up in the front window of The Center at 93 Main St. downtown and opens after Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus arrive with the Parade of Lights, which will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27 — the day after Thanksgiving.

Festival of Trees themes include hunting, flowers, camping, golfing, candy and snowmen, and the businesses will decorate the trees in grand style, according to Gary Poulin, a member of the Festival of Trees committee. He said he expects up to 12,000 people to visit the festival during the holiday season.

“I believe this is going to be the most fantastic event of the Christmas season in Waterville and central Maine,” Poulin said. “The trees are all going to be glowing. The Hathaway Center will be glowing. To me, it’s going to be amazing — the smiles and delight that we are going to see on the faces of the children and parents.”

The Festival of Trees is hosted by Doug and Rita Sukeforth and will benefit Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area, Spectrum Generations’ Meals on Wheels program and House in the Woods, a retreat for those in the military and their families in Carmel.

The Sukeforth family for many years has hosted an annual pig roast in Solon as a charity event but decided this year to do something different, according to Poulin. He said the Sukeforths’ daughter, Annette Sukeforth Marin, has been working on festival plans.

The festival will be held two weekends in a row — Nov. 20-22 and 27-29.

The decorated trees and gifts will be given away to 59 people whose names are drawn from boxes next to each tree. The drawings will be held at 5 p.m. Nov. 29, the last day of the festival.

There will be signs next to the trees that display the names of businesses or organizations that donated and decorated them, and a People’s Choice Award will go to the tree that gets the most raffle tickets. As part of the festival, other drawings will be held for gifts donated by area businesses.

Santa’s Snack Shack at the event will feature soup, hot dogs, cider and other refreshments. Santa Claus will be on hand to greet children.

Those who turn out for the Parade of Lights on Nov. 27 — the day after Thanksgiving — will be able to visit the tree festival after the parade, as the fest will stay open longer that evening, according to Poulin.

The 6 p.m. parade is scheduled for just before the opening of Kringleville, where children and their parents may visit Santa. He and Mrs. Claus will give each child a book as part of a project carried out by Waterville Main Street, Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce and Marden’s Surplus & Salvage. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there most evenings and Saturdays until Christmas.

The parade and Kringleville, which typically draw thousands of people downtown, are organized by Waterville Main Street, whose executive director, Jennifer Olsen, said planning for the events has been going on since summer.

“It is pretty magical,” Olsen said. “Before I came to Waterville, I didn’t realize just how special the whole Kringleville tradition is for the city. It’s uniquely ours, and it brings so many volunteers to the table and so many businesses to the table.”

The lineup for the parade is scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. at Head of Falls off Front Street. The parade will start heading north at 6 p.m. and will proceed on Front Street to Union Street and then will turn south onto Main Street and proceed through the downtown, where the giant evergreen tree will be lit in Castonguay Square next to City Hall. The parade then will continue south on Main Street, wind around the former Levine’s clothing store and head north back to Head of Falls to disperse.

After the parade, Santa will greet children at The Center. Stores and other businesses are encouraged to remain open into the evening, according to Olsen.

Waterville Main Street also is organizing a downtown business open house Saturday, Dec. 12, during a performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Waterville Opera House. Horse-drawn carriage rides and other special activities will be on tap.

A dinner and auction to benefit Kringleville and help support Waterville Main Street programs was held Wednesday night at the Silver Street Tavern.

Meanwhile, Waterville Main Street partnered with the Sunrise Rotary Club of Waterville to hold a greenery sale to help businesses decorate their storefronts during the holiday season.

Olsen said she invites anyone interested in getting involved with the parade, Kringleville or other holiday activities to call her.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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