WATERVILLE — The city will usher in the holiday season in style Friday night as the annual Parade of Lights passes through downtown and Kringleville, Santa’s mini-village, opens in Castonguay Square.

Santa Claus’ house was returned to the square Monday morning after a three-year hiatus during which Santa visited children in The Center. A gingerbread house large enough for children to enter will be featured in the square, along with Arctic animals.

The events are being organized for the first time by the Children’s Discovery Museum instead of Waterville Main Street. Tracy O’Clair, who was hired last year to organize the parade and Kringleville, was asked this year to help with the transition. Four entities are sponsoring the parade and Kringleville — MaineGeneral Health, Central Maine Motors Auto Group, the Unity Foundation and Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate, according to O’Clair.

“It’s a community event, and it takes a lot of people to bring Santa to town,” said O’Clair, who owns TOCmedia. “We’re just really happy we have a lot of community to help out. I think it’s just great that everyone’s involved and willing to make this happen.”

Amarinda Keys, the Discovery Museum’s executive director, said the organization is excited to take over organization of the parade and Kringleville. The museum plans to release information soon about its future move from Augusta to Waterville.

“We are so thankful for the opportunity to adopt this event from Waterville Main Street and keep the tradition alive,” Keys said of the Parade of Lights and Kringleville. “While we wait to open the new museum’s doors, this is a wonderful way for us to give back to the families of the Waterville community.”

The parade will start at 6 p.m. after lining up at the former American Legion Hall on College Avenue, where Selah Tea will sell hot chocolate and cookies, according to O’Clair. It will proceed down Main Street and stop at Castonguay Square, next to City Hall, where lights on a giant spruce tree donated by Joe Lemieux, of Fairfield, will be turned on and Girl Scouts will circle the tree and sing Christmas carols. The Mix 107.9 radio will emcee activities.

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will ride atop one of 25 floats in the parade, whose grand marshal will be Paul Ureneck, director of commercial real estate for Elm City LLC, an affiliate of Colby College. Ureneck oversees Colby construction projects downtown.

“We’re excited about that,” O’Clair said of Ureneck’s role as grand marshal. “He’s going to be driven down the street in a Central Maine Motors convertible.”

Thousands of people typically line the streets downtown for the annual parade, and O’Clair said motorists are being asked not to park on Main Street after 4:30 p.m. Also, she emphasized that people watching the parade should not stand in front of the construction site at 150 Main St., where Colby is building a student residential complex.

Parade participants include police and fire officials, Scouts, Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, Skills Inc., Messalonskee Trail Riders, area churches, dancers and more. After the parade, children may line up to visit Santa in his house, and Girl Scouts will sell hot chocolate in the square.

“We did some renovations on Santa’s house,” O’Clair said. “The roofing is new and it got a paint job and some new stairs. It’s going to look really sharp.”

The Children’s Book Cellar at 52 Main St. will host book readings on the hour at the store while Kringleville is open, and the Children’s Discovery Museum will have an activity center in the annex of Common Street Arts inside The Center by the square, O’Clair said. The Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce and Marden’s Surplus & Salvage will give a book to every child who comes through the annex.

“Their mission is improving literacy,” O’Clair said.

After Friday, children may meet Santa at Kringleville during times listed at kringleville.org, she said.

Meanwhile, the spruce tree was hauled Monday morning to the square from Fairfield by Waterville Public Works and Waterville Parks & Recreation.

“It’s really full. It should look great,” said Matt Skehan, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

During the holiday season, from now through Dec. 23, the Holiday Bazaar is open in Common Street Arts’ gallery on the first floor of The Center.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday although the shop will be closed Thanksgiving day and the day after that, according to Nate Towne, marketing director for Waterville Creates!

The shop features ceramics, hand-carved and molded concrete planters, jewelry, hand-crafted knives, Christmas ornaments, fiber art and more. Towne said some special pop-up shops will be held during the bazaar, including felt works by Heather Kerner on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25; pottery by Elizabeth Louden on Dec. 9; and free gift-wrapping and fresh balsam wreaths for sale by Barbara Sullivan on Joy to the Ville Day, Dec. 2.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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