WATERVILLE — For the second year in a row, there will be no Parade of Lights to kick off the holiday season in Waterville, but the Children’s Discovery Museum is organizing events that they say are meant to help protect the public’s health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A highlight this year will be Santa and Mrs. Claus’ arrival by sleigh at Castonguay Square the Saturday after Thanksgiving to help turn on the lights to a giant evergreen tree, according to Amarinda Keys, executive director of the nonprofit museum. A small Santa’s Village called Kringleville will be erected in the square as part of the event.

Rick Dutil, left, and Scott McAdoo string Christmas lights on the Kringleville building at Castonguay Square in downtown Waterville in November 2018. Kringleville will be set up again this year, but for the second consecutive year, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing organizers to modify some events. Morning Sentinel file photo

The Light Up the Town event that was started last year also will be held. Businesses and individuals may register with the museum and decorate buildings and properties with as many holiday lights as possible. Their locations will be listed on a map people may use to travel around and view the sites, and a panel of judges will decide which are most compelling. Light displays must be ready by Nov. 27.

“We weren’t originally planning to do Light Up the Town again, but we got such positive feedback that we thought, why not?” Keys said Monday.

Meg Loubier, president of the children’s museum board of directors, said things have to be done differently during the pandemic.

“Of course, the past couple of years have been so challenging for families,” she said, “so we hope that our holiday programs can bring much-needed joy to the community.”


Information about Kringleville and Light Up the Town are available at the event’s Facebook page, and families may start registering for virtual Santa Claus visits beginning in November. The sponsors of Kringleville are Central Maine Motors Auto Group, T-Mobile, Selah Tea, Day’s Jewelers and MaineGeneral Health, according to Keys.

Like last year, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available to speak with children virtually through scheduled online Zoom calls. Families must preregister online for the telephone calls, which last five to seven minutes and will be scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekend in December leading up to Christmas. Each child taking part will receive a free storybook as a gift from the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, Marden’s Surplus & Salvage and Sappi.

Children may also write letters to Santa and leave them in his mailbox outside his cabin at Kringleville in Castonguay Square, or send them through the Waterville Post Office. Each child will receive a letter back from Santa if the child includes his or her address in the letter. The children’s museum will keep addresses confidential, according to Keys.

On Nov. 27, S&S Carriage Rides of Sidney will carry Santa and Mrs. Claus in a horse-drawn sleigh on Main Street in downtown Waterville. The festive couple will greet families in Castonguay Square at 5 p.m., before turning on the tree lights.

The children’s museum is partnering with Waterville Creates’ Joy to the Ville and the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce’s Shop Small Saturday for weekend events.

The museum last year bought the former Congregational Church at 7 Eustis Parkway, and while renovations and construction have gone more slowly than anticipated, the museum looks forward to welcoming families in the near future, according to Keys.

Meanwhile, the museum has been offering programs for the community, including summer camps, after-school activities and a new, weekly program at the Quarry Road Recreation Area that includes a walk in the woods and a short activity at 10 a.m. every Tuesday.

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