WINSLOW — Tens of thousands of people stood in the sun Monday morning to watch a stream of floats, antique cars and firetrucks go by in the 26th annual Winslow Family 4th of July Celebration parade, many of them grateful that the celebration remained in Winslow this year despite months of debate over possibly moving it to another community.

“We’re glad it’s here because it’s been here for 26 years, and we’ve been working hard to keep it,” said Michele Grotton, of Clinton, a member of the Winslow Family 4th of July committee who was participating in Monday’s parade dressed as a bright yellow minion from the movie “Minions.”

“It brings the whole community together and feels like one big family,” said Grotton, 48.

“I just love being in the parade,” added Grotton’s mother, Flo Poulliot, of Albion, who was also dressed as a minion with bright yellow face paint completing her costume. “There’s just something special about it.”

The three-day Winslow Family 4th of July Celebration has been a fixture in central Maine since 1991 and typically attracts about 70,000 people each year. For the last several months organizers and town officials have debated moving the event due to its growing size and an increased need for public safety. There was talk of holding the celebration in Fairfield, but in April Winslow Town Manager Michael Heavener said the town had worked out a deal with surrounding police departments to ensure adequate coverage and the celebration would go on as in past years.

The event bills itself as Maine’s largest Fourth of July parade and fireworks display and was one of several that took place around the region Monday.

In Belgrade, dozens of spectators gathered on Great Pond for a parade of new and antique boats around noon time, one of many events taking place for the day. Main Street was packed with cars parked on the shoulder of the road. Hundreds of people were walking through town and buying snacks at vendors.

Kathy DelRossi, of New Hampshire, was watching the boat parade with her brother, Daniel Ross, who is visiting from California and was celebrating his 50th birthday Monday.

“I love it,” said Ross. “It’s a great way to spend my 50th birthday.”

“We always come down and watch this,” said DelRossi, who has a camp on the pond. “The beauty of the festivities here are that you can come and go. There are things going on all day. I like the quaintness of the village. It’s a real Maine village.”

Rhonda Wiles-Rosell, of Farmington, was also watching the parade Monday with friends visiting from New Jersey.

“It has a great small town feel,” said Wiles-Rosell, 57, of the Belgrade celebration. “I love the spirit of everyone coming here to celebrate our freedom.”

In Solon, about 250 people attended the fifth Solon Annual 4th of July Parade. There were a record number of participants in the parade and spectators, according to parade director Alicia Golden.

“It was definitely our biggest and our best yet,” Golden said. “And we certainly had great weather for it.”

After the conclusion of the Winslow parade, several spectators said they planned to spend the day outside at barbecues with families or watching the fireworks over the Ticonic Bridge between Waterville and Winslow Monday night.

“It’s great. I’m glad they kept the parade here. The kids really enjoy it,” said Jess Vizier-Nye, 36, who lives along the parade route and was walking her cat, Simba, outside Monday.

Eight-year-old Kyle Petrovic, who also lives along the route and was collecting candy from a lawn chair Monday morning, also said he’s happy the parade stayed in town.

“I like getting the candy,” Petrovic said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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