Justin Fletcher, dressed as Captain America, greets children as he walks the parade route during the Central Maine 4th of July Celebration in Clinton on July 4, 2019. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

Fourth of July festivities will return to central Maine this year after the coronavirus pandemic halted fairs and large gatherings for over a year.

Independence Day celebrations will kick off with a parade down Main Street on Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. in downtown Clinton, which already has 35 floats signed up.

“We’re amazed about the parade, which has more floats signed up than we’ve had in probably the last 6 or 7 years,” said Kevin Douglass, chairman of the Central Maine Fourth of July Committee. “People are just wanting to be a part of it.”

The Clinton police department waves to parade-goers during the Central Maine 4th of July parade in Clinton on July 4, 2018. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

Following the parade, the celebration will resume at the Clinton Fairgrounds at 1450 Bangor Road. Food vendors, children’s activities, live music, and other games will be offered throughout the day, with a fireworks display ending the festivities at night.

At 11:30 a.m., a car show will begin and run through the remainder of the day. At noon, a horse show will begin, hosted by Sebasticook Riding Club.

Douglass said Thursday that the event was planned in about a month and though it may look different than previous celebrations, activities for all crowds will be offered during the one-day celebration.

The plan was initially made to cancel the celebration this year because of pandemic regulations and social distancing guidelines.

“With all of that stuff at play, we weren’t sure what was going to happen,” Douglass said. “When they lifted all the mandates, we decided that we would do the event.”

“Basically we had three and a half weeks to plan and we put it all into one day,” he added. “Usually, it’s a three-day event.”

New this year is a pie-eating contest, which attendees can enter throughout the day with a free raffle ticket. Prior to the event, 10 names will be drawn to participate; apple pies will be provided by Bee’s Diner.

“What’s more American than apple pie?” Douglass said. “(Contestants) can get a free ticket throughout the day, we’re going to draw the 10 who get to be in the pie-eating contest and we’re going to see who gets the bragging rights for the whole year of being the faster eater of apple pie.”

The celebration — in its 31st year after being held in Winslow for most of that time and the last four years in Clinton — will wind down at 9:15 p.m. with a fireworks show.

“This is the year to come together; we’ve been apart for so long,” Douglass said. “If you’ve never been before, this is a great year to come, be together, salute our troops and honor the country that we live in.”

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