Central Mainers formed new traditions this Fourth of July as they traveled to Clinton for the annual fair and fireworks show historically hosted in Winslow, or cheered on the bootstraps parade organized by community members in Waterville.

Lois-Anne G. Campbell, of Waterville, said she realized Thursday that there was no parade in Winslow or Clinton for the holiday. So she hopped on Facebook and started spreading the word, asking for volunteers to walk in the parade and organize the event.

“Most of these people, I don’t even know,” Campbell said while looking around at those getting ready to march. She put some of her contact information on Facebook and got responses from a variety of people who took part in the parade — American Legion Post 152 in Waterville, the local Humane Society and Terry Sawyer, who owns miniature horses.

The parade, which started at 10:30 a.m. at Head of Falls, drew a sizable crowd of about 400 people.

Campbell said she felt compelled to do something because “it’s America’s birthday. We’re all Americans. We’re all free.”

Most people in her family are also in the military, she said, so she felt the need to honor them.

Tickles The Clown, or Merle Trott Jr., helped Campbell organize the parade. They started Friday afternoon and got the necessary permits for a walking parade — the “old-fashioned way” — and started planning. Everything was done on a volunteer basis, he said, and money was spent only on the candy that was handed out to children.

Trott said they wanted to do something for patriotism, but also to “really bring the community together, even for an hour.”

They’ve started planning a parade for next year, he said.

For the past 26 years, Winslow held a parade and was the epicenter of central Maine’s Fourth of July, featuring multiple days of live music, contests, and a fireworks show that drew tens of thousands of Mainers to the small town.

The nonprofit group that organizes the festivities each year decided to leave Winslow after tension grew over the size of the fireworks event and the costs to secure it.

After months of looking for a new home, the group struck an agreement with the Clinton Lions Club to host a two-day event at the fairgrounds of the Clinton Lions Agricultural Fair on Bangor Road.

A number of people at the fairgrounds Tuesday said they thought the change was a good one.

“The crowd isn’t quite as bad,” said Fern Corbin, who lives in Waterville and used to attend the Winslow celebration.

Another woman, Nancy Drysdale, from Fairfield, said she was excited about the change.

“I’m wondering if it’s going to be easier to see the fireworks,” she said, adding that it was difficult in Winslow because of the crowds in the small park.

Others, though, said the move may take some getting used to.

Young Pooler, who used to live in Maine but now lives in Florida, said she visits every year at this time and was disappointed because when Winslow ended its celebration, it also ended her tradition of going there with her family.

Jaime Pooler, of Vassalboro, said she doesn’t think the move was a good choice. “A lot of Mainers don’t like change.”

A lot of people were confused this year, she said, but she added that the fairgrounds are a nice place to hold an event that needs a lot of space.

The change didn’t seem to affect attendance, according to Kevin Douglass, vice chairman of what was the Winslow Family 4th of July Committee. About 1,000 cars came through on Monday, and he said the start of Tuesday was “tremendous.”

“I see cars lining up now to come in,” he said around noon. “We’ve never had that at this time of day.”

Both Douglass and Charles Brown, chairman of the committee, said the support from the town and its residents has been “wonderful.”

“They’ve been very responsive and very supportive,” Brown said.

People feared losing central Maine’s celebration, Douglass said.

“They realize what this celebration really is,” he said, adding that it’s a celebration of American troops and freedom.

While there was no parade this year because of time constraints, the committee plans to hold one next year.

In Winslow, Town Manager Michael Heavener said he hadn’t heard from residents about their thoughts on the move. The town didn’t plan anything in its place this year.

“I certainly would’ve liked to have had the parade,” he said. “I was concerned about the size of the event in the park. … I am going to miss the parade. I think a lot of people enjoyed that.”

The committee still owes the town more than $13,000 for the years 2015 and 2016, Heavener said, and a payment plan has yet to be set up. He plans to contact the group after the events in Clinton, he said.

Douglass said that the money is in negotiation, however. While he wouldn’t disclose what he thinks the group should pay, he said the town provided some unnecessary services that the committee was against.

The committee’s largest unforeseen expense in those years was for police officers. Winslow increased the police force for the fireworks event, where more than 70,000 people — 10 times the town’s population — would gather at the park and on the bridge, spilling into the streets.

In Clinton, two police officers were working during the day and five were scheduled to work at night, along with two to control traffic and other volunteers hired by the committee to act as security.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.