SKOWHEGAN — An “Elf on the Shelf” scavenger hunt throughout the downtown has been added to this year’s 23rd annual Holiday Stroll, a two-day celebration of the season beginning Friday.

Events begin with a candle lighting ceremony at the Federated Church at 5:30 p.m. Friday to be followed by the big holiday parade at 7 p.m. Activities continue on Saturday, including a chili cook-off, petting zoo, a bonfire and marshmallow roast, Santa’s Village, craft fair, horse-drawn wagon rides and breakfast and photos with Santa at Tewksbury Hall on Island Avenue.

The scavenger hunt is set for 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, said Kristina Cannon, executive director at Main Street Skowhegan. Families can pick up a checklist for the hunt at The Bankery or Skowhegan Fleuriste on Water Street. Participants are asked to find an elf hidden in various businesses downtown — the family with the most checks on the list wins a prize, Cannon said.

“The ‘Elf on the Shelf’ is to get families into businesses that they may not go to otherwise,” Cannon said. “Because it’s all the rage right now, we’re using it to our advantage asking each business to get an elf and put it in their business somewhere and put a name on it.”

Scavenger hunt families will then check their list and write down the Elf’s name next to the business name. The most checks will be entered in a drawing to win a prize, Cannon said.

“Elf on the Shelf” is a Christmas tradition based on a 2005 children’s book of the same name, which tells the story of Santa’s “scout” elves who are sent to be Santa’s eyes and ears at children’s homes around the world, making sure they are good little girls and boys.

Cannon, who took over at Main Street Skowhegan in September, said she has been working on Chamber of Commerce Director Cory King to possibly have an announcer stationed along the parade route Friday night to introduce each of the participants.

At the Chamber office on Monday, King said the idea of setting up a public address system to announce the parade as people are coming through still is in the planning stages.

King offered to be the voice, perhaps along with one other, on the public address system.

“The Holiday Stroll is a wonderful community event that’s well supported by many businesses in the downtown and throughout the area,” King said. “It’s a traditional, holiday experience. The lighted parade is a can’t miss with two dozen floats, probably more, and organizations from around town getting together. And it’s at night and it’s really fun.”

Also on tap for the Holiday Stroll will be a holiday bazaar book and bake sale at the Public Library on Elm Street, a Festival of Trees at Redington Memorial Home and a free holiday movie at the Strand Cinema. Maine author Lynn Plourde will be on hand Saturday to read from one of her holiday books at Midge’s Theater Performing Arts Studio on Water Street.

The fourth annual Towrific Toy and Food Drive to benefit area families and the local food cupboard also is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hight’s Chevrolet. Area residents are asked to drop off cash, non-perishable food items and new unwrapped toys.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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