CLINTON — Organizers say the first year in a new home for the region’s landmark Fourth of July celebration went off without a hitch, even as questions remain about thousands of dollars the group owes to the town of Winslow.

The celebration, known now as the Central Maine 4th of July: The Great American Celebration, hosted its first events in Clinton on July 3 and 4 after 26 years in Winslow, where it was known as the Winslow Family 4th of July Celebration.

Kevin Douglass, vice chairman of the committee that organizes the event, said the two-day celebration went smoothly and that the attendance was even better than they had expected. He said the most people the Winslow venue at Fort Halifax Park could accommodate was about 5,000. But the Clinton Fairgrounds, where the Lions Club holds its fair, are much bigger, and Douglass estimated that close to 10,000 spectators viewed the fireworks there, which he said was surprising.

“We didn’t expect to see the crowds we normally did,” he said, “but instead we saw bigger crowds than we usually do.”

While the tradition in Winslow had included a parade, this year’s celebration in Clinton did not have one. In response to that, an impromptu parade was held July 4 in Waterville, which began at Head of Falls at 10:30 a.m. The parade, organized through Facebook, drew a crowd of about 400 people.

The Waterville organizers had said after their parade they had begun planning for next year. Clinton organizers say they plan to hold their own parade next year as well.

The event organizers still owe the town of Winslow more than $13,000 for event expenses in 2015 and 2016. The celebration itself is the organizers’ largest fundraising event all year. Douglass said he didn’t know how much money was raised this year, but he said it looks good. The committee treasurer will calculate the tally next week.

Douglass said the final cost of the events hadn’t been calculated fully yet, but he estimated it would come in under the cost of recent events in Winslow, which typically ranged from $25,000 to $35,000. Going further back in time, he said the events ran from $40,000 to $60,000.

Mike Davis, president of the board for the celebration, cited a disagreement about the money owed to Winslow. While the town claims it is about $13,000, Davis said the celebration group believes the total is closer to $8,000. He said once the group and the town agree on what is really owed, they will figure out a payment plan.

The two-day event in Clinton focused more on children and family-oriented events the first day. A petting zoo and pony rides were throwbacks to celebrations from past years, but 2017 also featured the Maine Ghostbusters, a group of fans of the “Ghostbusters” movies who dress up as the characters and support fundraising efforts.

Douglass said they also plan to have another bounce house for children next year, as well as a dunk tank.

“It went very smooth,” Douglass said. “It was a pleasure.”

The only real problem organizers ran into involved traffic and parking, Douglass said, especially when more people came to see the fireworks Tuesday night. Traffic backed up some, but Douglass said that’s a good problem to have, as it means people want to come to the event.

“We’ve already sat down with a police officer to make sure that doesn’t happen next year,” Douglass said.

He said they’ll work out a better system to deal with traffic flow and make sure that aspect of the celebration goes faster and more easily.

After spending parts of the winter and spring trying to find a new home, organizers eventually came to an agreement with the Clinton Lions Club to hold the events at the Clinton Fairgrounds on Bangor Road, where the annual Clinton Lions Agricultural Fair will be held Sept. 7-10.

The Clinton version of the July Fourth celebration was also smaller than in past years. The Winslow celebration sometimes attracted 70,000 people to the park — nearly 10 times the population of the town — but Winslow officials said that became too large for the venue. The crowd at Fort Halifax spilled out onto the main road, which is U.S. Route 201, and that created traffic congestion when the fireworks went off.

The rising cost of local police coverage was one of the major reasons cited by town officials and organizers for the falling out between Winslow and the celebration committee.

Clinton police Senior Officer Karl Roy said overall, the event this year was excellent. There was about $1,000 of added police costs, which the organizers paid ahead of time. Roy said there were two officers on the first day.

On the second day, they started with two, then after 4 p.m. they had eight officers on hand. He said there was trouble with traffic and parking, especially when people were trying to leave, but the town already was looking at ways to mitigate that problem in the future. He said the same problem occurred in Winslow, with many people trying to show up at the last minute.

“Having a lot of people leaving at once is a good sign they had a great turnout,” Roy said.

The only trouble police encountered was a couple who were intoxicated. Roy said they were removed from the park and a responsible driver took them home.

Roy said the organizing committee was great to work with. He said they cleaned the fairgrounds up as they had promised, and no trash was left behind. He said they were a “pleasure to work with.”

Seven nonprofits were represented around the fairgrounds, including the local Boy Scouts, a group called Bikers Against Child Abuse and the Clinton Lions Club, organizations that were able to come to the event and raise money for their programs at no charge, as long as they agreed to help clean up the fairgrounds after the celebration ended.

A Facebook post from the event organizers thanked everyone involved for getting the event off the ground, from committee members to the Lions Club, the town of Clinton and its police and fire departments, the sponsors and businesses that participated in the event and the Fairfield Veterans of Foreign Wars for providing the fireworks.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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