The holiday season officially got underway in communities across the region Saturday with craft fairs, parades, tree-lightings and horse-drawn wagon rides.

“This is part of why we love our community,” said Peter Nielsen, Winthrop’s town manager. “This good holiday spirit is free for the taking.”

The festivities in the Winthrop Lakes region kicked off Saturday morning with an annual affair, the Monmouth Fire Department’s breakfast with Santa Claus.

Winthrop started the day with numerous craft fairs, along with a pie sale at the Charles M. Bailey Public Library.

Lorraine Fleury and Linda Quaste, both of Winthrop, had more than three dozen pies for sale, with proceeds going to the Friends of the Library. Flavors included apple, pecan, pumpkin and peanut butter, and Quaste’s meat pies were so popular she sold them in advance.

“I’m for sale, too,” she said. “You know, anything for the library.”

Just up the road from the library, vendors and community members gathered at Winthrop Grade School for a craft fair sponsored by the Winthrop High School student council. According to one of the organizers, proceeds from the registration fees support the Winthrop food pantry.

Rachel Pack’s table received attention from many visitors because of her $10 holiday bowling pins, an idea she saw on the Pinterest website. The regulation pins, purchased from a local bowling alley, featured a snowman design.

“It was a great idea, but does anything look like it does when you see it on Pinterest?” said Pack, a 20-year craft fair veteran who began painting bowling pins earlier this year.

Winthrop’s Judy Simonson, selling poinsettias for Winthrop High’s class of 2019, said the fair is great way to start the holiday season.

“This is a great community event and fundraiser,” she said. “It’s just nice to see people (from the community) and enjoy the holiday.”

Both Gardiner and Winthrop continued celebrating under the stars with parades. The 31st annual parade in Winthrop, sponsored by the Winthrop Lakes Region Chamber, culminated with a visit by Santa Claus at the Payson Tucker Fire Station.

Spectators lined Water Street in Gardiner for the city’s annual parade, including Brandon and Katherine Demmons, who came down from Augusta with their 11-month-old daughter, Katieann, in hopes of seeing Santa Claus.

Gardiner’s mayor, Thomas Harnett, said the turnout is a testament to the community, which he said “is really growing, and events like this really demonstrate that.”

Harnett added that the parade has grown “tenfold” over the last couple of years.

“It was just wonderful to see so many young people on Main Street enthusiastically welcoming Christmas and the holiday season,” he said. “It’s lovely to see our downtown so alive.”

The night’s events kept on well after dark at the Winthrop High School Performing Arts Center, which hosted its Winter Wonderland Holiday Concert, while the Maztones band performed at American Legion Post 40.

Other events in the area included the 18th annual Belgrade Lakes Village Holiday Stroll, which included caroling, a gingerbread house contest and the lighting of the village’s 50-foot tree.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ


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