HALLOWELL — The annual parade down Water Street, considered by many to be the best part of Old Hallowell Day, had plenty of old and a lot of new Saturday morning.

There were floats and walking groups honoring veterans, local clubs and organizations and businesses, including the Granite Athletic Club, who’s “Wizard of Oz”-themed display included several athletes dressed in full costume. The famed Winged, or Flying, Monkey character was hoisted into the air by a picker truck to the delight of people lining Water Street, especially children.

After that display, an O’Reilly Auto Parts float featured two Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots, while the Rocky for Equality theater company in Augusta had everybody doing “The Time Warp” from the classic “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

“My family and I had heard about Old Hallowell Day from friends for years, and we find the city charming,” said Matt Cunningham, of Worcester, Massachusetts. “We’re so glad we decided to finally come up and check out everything for ourselves.”

Nate Rudy attended not just his first Old Hallowell Day as city manager, but his first since coming to Maine more than a decade ago. Rudy and his wife, Adrian Blevins, stood on the corner of Water and Wharf streets and clapped and cheered throughout the parade.

Rudy and his wife said they experienced many local parades while living in Virginia, but added that this parade was special.


Despite the polarizing political landscape leading up to November’s presidential election, the day was without much political fanfare. Several elected officials were seen walking around throughout the day, and the parade featured a few candidates running for office in November, including Shenna Bellows and Bryan Cutchen, who are vying for a seat in the Maine Senate.

Kara Walker and a large group of supporters walked in the parade with purple shirts emblazoned with “Kara for Council” on the front. Walker is running for the Ward 3 City Council seat currently occupied by Councilor Phil Lindley. Lindley hasn’t said whether he will seek re-election, official nomination papers aren’t available in Hallowell until August, and the filing deadline isn’t until early September.

The weekend’s festivities began, as they have so often in the past, with a lobster roll supper and cribbage tournament Friday night. Saturday’s big day started with yoga by the river at 6 a.m. and a 5-kilometer run, won by Alan Groudle, 32, with a time of 17:31. The parade, the best part of the day for many attendees, kicked off shortly after the race finished.

The majority of the action, which was expected to continue late into the night, happened all around Hallowell, though most of the activity was centered around the historic downtown district on Water Street.

If the Maine Department of Transportation schedule holds, this was the penultimate Old Hallowell Day parade on Water Street before a reconstruction project begins in the spring of 2018. The transportation department’s plan calls for reconstruction of the infrastructure below the street surface, which would level the stretch of Water Street that is uneven in some places. The sidewalks also will be completely overhauled and redone, so the Old Hallowell Day parade in 2019 will look different.

Jane Orbeton, chairwoman of the organizing committee, said she thought it was an “excellent turnout with lots and lots of people enjoying the great weather and activities.” Last year, light rain off and on made for “a pretty cold day,” Orbeton said.


Old Hallowell Day, which started in 1968, according to the event’s organizers, always has featured culinary delights including a cupcake contest, a healthy cafe, an assortment of desserts including strawberry shortcake, a food court and several other dining options.

This year, visitors could choose from many new places to fill up on the hot summer day, including getting gelato at Scrummy Afters Candy Shop; a thin slice with cheese at Kennebec Pizza, which reopened after a change in ownership earlier this month; and breakfast all day at Buddy’s Diner. The diner, where Hattie’s Chowder House operated for 17 years, opened July 4. Owner Buddy Iaciofano said in late May that he was looking forward to his first Old Hallowell Day as a restaurant owner.

Buddy’s opened at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, its normal opening time, and by 8 a.m., the only seats available were at the bar, though even those were taken by about 8:30. Iaciofano’s fiancee, Becky Havens, said things have been great since the diner’s grand opening July 4, and the staff was prepared for what they expected would be a full day Saturday.

Hilary Davis, of Scrummy Afters, said the gelato has been a big hit and the shop was expecting a lot of customers Saturday. To prepare, Davis ordered two weeks’ worth of gelato and thinks she’ll sell out before Old Hallowell Day comes to a close.

And farther along Water Street, the new upper-level outdoor space at the Quarry Tap Room was filled with revelers eating, drinking and enjoying the views of both the Kennebec River and Water Street. Co-owner Chris Vallee said workers spent the last few days getting part of the space finished, including laying stone pavers and setting up picnic tables in order to accommodate guests this weekend.

Vallee said the rest of the outdoor expansion, including the lower-level beer garden and new kitchen, should be completed in the next four weeks.


The celebration was scheduled to end with a fireworks display over the Kennebec River.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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