HALLOWELL — With the Water Street crown all the way down and the temperature all the way up into the 90s, cool treats such as frozen popsicles and chilled bottled water passed out from parade floats and frosty adult beverages served at streetside bars and restaurants were the hot items Saturday for Old Hallowell Day.

“We’ve got a cooler with some water in there, and a couple hundred popsicles. We’ll hand those out to the crowd,” D.J. McNaughton said while waiting for the annual Old Hallowell Day parade to get underway with others who planned to ride on the Maine Ice Vault and Skating Association of Maine float.

“We always look forward to (Old Hallowell Day),” he said. “It’s a good time. Everyone comes to town. Whether you’re 10 years old or 90, you want to be at the parade. And then maybe you grab a drink and some brunch, spend some time with friends. Bunch of us who grew up in town are getting together, and come back for the fireworks.”

So many parade participants were passing out popsicles, slushy treats and ice cream sandwiches that even some children along the route said no, thanks, they already had enough. Many children had a place to stash their less-perishable items such as candy or toys passed out along the parade route — plastic pails passed out to them from a trailer positioned near the front of the parade.

A few floats had buckets of water and squirt guns on board, to help keep each other — and the occasional targeted spectator — cool.

Efram Ferrusca, top left, tells Lisette Spiegel, 4, and her father, Peter Spiegel, about Mexican food and culture Saturday during the Old Hallowell Day International Kids Festival at Vaughan Field in Hallowell. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

They included a float sponsored by the local secondhand shop, A Second Life, which was decorated with a theme of “dog days of summer,” in line with the heat of the day, said Ashley Mathews, of Mount Vernon, who rode on the float. She said they planned to pass out flyers depicting adoptable dogs at the Kennebec Valley Humane Society in Augusta, to help spread the word about dogs in need of homes. On board their trailer was Champ, a stuffed fake dog; while Sammy, a real dog with the group, got to ride inside the air-conditioned truck towing their trailer.

A team of brightly-dressed young dancers from Vicki’s School of Dance danced their way down the parade route to, among other tunes, Abba’s “Dancing Queen,” with three people, each carrying multiple water-filled spray bottles, flanking the dancers and periodically spraying them with water to help them keep cool.

The river side of Water Street, which was the shady side, drew a noticeably larger crowd for the parade than the opposite side of the street, where the sun wasn’t blocked nearly as well by downtown buildings.

In addition to sharing popsicles and ice cream sandwiches, some participants in the day’s events shared a bit about their cultures and native countries, at the International Kids Festival at Vaughn Field. Many offered warm thoughts about Old Hallowell Day itself, a day many said is for reunions with old friends in a riverside city they love.

The International Kids Festival, sponsored by the Capital Area New Mainers Project, featured activities and food from around the world, explained by immigrants from several countries who now live in the Augusta area. Children were given “passports,” which they then filled out by going around to the various stations representing different countries, where they learned a bit about each country’s culture.

Peter Spiegel, wearing a “I love Hallowell” pin on his T-shirt, had his two children, Lilette, 4, and Holden, 6, in tow as they explored the world before them, set up under a tent that provided shade.

Aaminah Aleem showed the children where Pakistan is on a globe, with Peter Spiegel showing them where it was in relation to Maine.

“You (come from) the other side of the world!” Lilette exclaimed.

“Isn’t it cool,” her dad responded, “that we all come together in this town?”

At the table for Mexico, Efram Ferrusca and his wife, Stacie Haines, of Augusta, served their visitors corn chips with guacamole and pico de gallo, helped them make maracas by taping together two paper cups, and, potentially to help deal with the heat, hand-held fans made from small Mexican flags.

Other Old Hallowell Day events included a running road race, a bicycle ride, yard sales, bake sales, arts and crafts tables, a muffin bake-off, a book sale at Hubbard Free Library, art exhibits, a bocce tournament and a wide variety of musical performances, all capped off by fireworks shot over the Kennebec River.

Larry Davis, president of Row House, which is Hallowell’s historic preservation organization, who is also a past chairman of Old Hallowell Day, worked with other Row House members on their float entry, a wooden model of the historic Second Street row house that give the organization its name, for weeks before the parade. He said he always looks forward to Old Hallowell Day, especially the parade and fireworks.

“It’s like an old home day. People have class reunions. You get to see your friends, your neighbors. Everyone comes together,” he said.

 

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