WATERVILLE — It may not be officially winter yet, but organizers already are planning the annual downtown Parade of Lights and opening of Kringleville, Santa’s mini-village, for the day after Thanksgiving.

This year, there will be some changes to the Nov. 25 event, including a new Christmas tree in Castonguay Square, as the old blue spruce was cut down last week. There will also be a new location for Kringleville in the south-facing window of The Center instead of the window facing Main Street.

The parade and opening of Kringleville draw thousands of children and adults to downtown to help kick off the holiday season in the city, according to parade organizer Tracy O’Clair.

“We’re creating memories that will last a lifetime,” O’Clair said.

Waterville Main Street hosts the 6 p.m. parade and Kringleville, which opens after the parade ends. Waterville Creates! is helping with decorations and will host a Pop-Up Shop in the art gallery on the first floor of The Center downtown. The shop will feature various fine crafts including jewelry, pottery, books and baskets, according to Marie Sugden, executive assistant for Waterville Creates!.

A wall in the gallery will separate that shop from Kringleville, where Santa will be sitting, and people outside in Castonguay Square will see him in the south window. Children will enter Kringleville via the door off the square as well and will be greeted by elves, according to O’Clair. Each child will sign in and be given a book, courtesy of Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce and Marden’s store, she said.

She emphasized that people should not park vehicles on Main Street downtown after 4 p.m. to allow for a clear parade route.

About 20 floats have already registered for the parade, including Waterville and Winslow firefighters, Young American Dance Center, Messalonskee Trail Riders, T&T Dance Studio, Getchell Street Baptist Church, Skills Inc., Waterville Elks Lodge and Decal Gymnastics. The deadline for registering is Nov. 11, according to O’Clair. Last year, 30 floats were in the parade, she said.

Those wanting to enter a float in the parade should go to Waterville Maine Street’s website, email [email protected] or call 680-2055.

Each float must have lights on it, O’Clair said. Organizers are prohibiting the throwing of candy from the floats as it causes a hazard, and floats should not have Santa Clauses on them, as the only Santa in the parade will be Santa himself, according to O’Clair. Mrs. Claus will accompany Santa.

Parade grand marshal this year is Bill Mitchell, owner of GHM Insurance Agency downtown, according to Charlie Giguere, president of Waterville Main Street’s board of directors, who was parade marshal last year. GHM was named 2016 Business of the Year by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

Parade lineup is 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Head of Falls off Front Street. The parade will start at 6 p.m. and go north on Front to Union Street, turn south and continue on Main Street downtown, where it will stop at Castonguay Square for the lighting of the tree. It then will proceed south to the former Levine’s store lot where it will end, according to O’Clair.

Volunteers will help decorate for the holidays and are excited about creating an ambiance around Santa that will draw people to the window overlooking the square, according to Nathan Towne, marketing manager for Waterville Creates!.

“We’ll make sure everything is beautiful for Kringleville,” he said.

The community group REM, based at The Center, will serve cookies and hot chocolate to children again this year, according to REM’s co-director, Faye Nicholson.

Meanwhile, Mark Huard of Central Maine Photography said children may have their photos taken with Santa for a small fee. Huard, who has been involved in the festivities for many years, said the Parade of Lights and Kringleville are very special events for children and families around central Maine and beyond.

“It’s my favorite time of the year,” he said. “The children’s eyes glow when they come to see Santa Claus.”

Giguere said an auction to benefit the Parade of Lights and Kringleville was held Wednesday at Hathaway Creative Center and about 160 people attended — many more than last year. About 150 businesses donated auction items, according to Giguere.

“We had such a great show of support,” Giguere said. “It was a wonderful success.”

The Sukeforth Festival of Trees will be held again this year, he said. Last year, dozens of decorated trees were donated by area businesses and nonprofit organizations and set up in the Hathaway building. Gifts in keeping with the tree themes were placed under the trees, and people bought tickets and placed them in containers near the trees they wished to win. Names were drawn and winners won not only the trees, but also the gifts beneath them. Last year the event, hosted by Doug and Rita Sukeforth, benefited Hospice Volunteers of Waterville, Spectrum Generations, Meals on Wheels and House in the Woods, a retreat for those in the military and their families.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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