WATERVILLE — With the temperature hovering in the low 50s and not even a glimpse of snow, it didn’t feel much like the winter holiday season Saturday afternoon, but that didn’t dampen spirits of the hundreds of people who turned out for the Waterville Downtown Open House.

A horse-drawn carriage ferried people along Main Street while children peered through the windows of The Center to catch a glimpse of a man dressed up as Santa Claus inside, who was patiently listening to other children’s holiday wish lists.

Families, dressed in festive greens and reds, strolled down Main Street, doing some holiday shopping.

Others surrounded a paddock with live reindeer set up in Castonguay Square. The event was put on by Waterville Main Street as part of its push to get people to shop at locally owned establishments.

April Gardiner, from Newport, knelt with her daughter Sydney in front of the reindeer paddock, trying to snap a photo with her cellphone.

Gardiner’s mother, Anne Nixon, from Calais, came with her daughter and her granddaughter to Waterville to catch the 2 p.m. performance of “The Nutcracker” ballet at the Waterville Opera House. Seeing the ballet is a holiday tradition for the family, Nixon said. When April Gardiner was a girl, Nixon took her to Machias to see “The Nutcracker,” and she’s been taking her granddaughter to the ballet for the last five years, Nixon said.

The lack of snow and cold might be a little unseasonable, but it made it easier to enjoy the outside events, April Gardiner said.

“The grounds don’t look super-festive, but it makes it nice to be outdoors,” Gardiner said.

Nearby, Katherine Trask, of Waterville, was looking for a place to set up a family Christmas picture with her three daughters, Noelle, Autumn and Lelia.

The family takes a Christmas photo every year and tries to find a place in Waterville to stage it, either in Castonguay Square or down near the Two Cent Bridge, Trask said. This year she was considering adding the reindeer as a background, but the unseasonably warm temperature was making it tough to get a good wintry shot.

“Usually there is snow,” she said, “This year, it is has been challenging, because it doesn’t look Christmasy.

“I love how warm it is, but I do want snow for Christmas. I think everyone does,” Trask said.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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