WATERVILLE — With two holiday traditions returning this weekend, few folks are as excited for the celebrations as Mark Huard, longtime volunteer with the Parade of Lights and Kringleville, and this year’s parade grand marshal.

“Now that we’re able to do that in person, I think it’s going to create a lot of excitement within the community,” Huard said. “And there are some changes, there’s some different things that are going on, there’s a lot of good changes.”

Neither event has been held in person for two years because of the pandemic, but they are back this year with a few new twists. The parade, held Saturday evening, has had a variety of routes through Waterville over the years, but this year’s began in Winslow before crossing the Ticonic Bridge and moving up Main Street in Waterville.

Mark Huard, seen Saturday at Kringleville at Head of Falls in Waterville, has been selected as grand marshall this year’s Parade of Lights. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Kringleville also has a new location at Head of Falls this year, and Santa will be visiting with people at Kringleville on Sunday afternoon, and every weekend until Christmas.

Huard, a martial arts instructor and photographer, has been involved in the holiday events since 2007, he said, mostly doing behind-the-scenes work. For several years he personally took the photos with Santa at Kringleville. Even though these days he doesn’t quite have the time, he still donates the equipment to use for the photos.

Growing up in Winslow, Huard loved Christmas as a kid, a joy he didn’t lose growing up. And now he loves the way the holiday brings people together, and the excitement he sees in kids and adults alike during the parade.


He was shocked to be honored as the grand marshal this year, but organizer Amarinda Keys said it just felt like the right time.

Keys, executive director of the Children’s Discovery Museum, which hosts the events, said Huard has stepped up to help plan in a variety of ways over the years.

“We thought this would be a good year to officially thank him, in a different way, by selecting him as the grand marshal,” Keys said.

Huard was scheduled to head up the parade in a car chosen by Central Maine Motors, the grand marshal sponsor. And in true form, he invited some of the kids from the martial arts studio where he teaches to join him with candy to hand out.

Santa Claus stops at Castonguay Square for the lighting of the tree Saturday during the Parade of Lights on Main Street in downtown Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Next up would be 30 floats, from both new and returning groups. The groups in the parade range from Central Maine Jeep Owners and area fire departments to the Waterville Area Humane Society with an island of misfit toys float, to represent the misfit animals at the animal shelter.

“The parade would be nothing if the floats weren’t great, so I’m just blown away every year, people do such a good job decorating,” Keys said.

And despite a lack of snow, the cool temperature and clear sky is expected to bring the iconic holiday feel to the return of a beloved tradition.

“The whole spirit of it is just very exciting to see,” Huard said. “The kids and everybody in the community are excited, it’s a special time of year.”

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