AUGUSTA — John Dumas’ hand-painted renderings of the Miser brothers — Snow Miser and Heat Miser — greeted visitors making their way down the Water Street hill into downtown Augusta on Saturday, as Dumas himself, clad in Santa Claus’ familiar red and white outfit, did the same just outside the door to The Studio where his work was displayed.

Dumas’ artwork featuring characters from the classic 1974 holiday television special, “The Year Without a Santa Claus,” was joined by holiday-themed decorations adorning numerous other downtown windows, part of a day and evening full of festivities planned on both sides of the Kennebec River, which also included visits with Santa, the annual tree lighting and fireworks.

“I really want to make little kids happy,” Dumas said of his participation in the holiday festivities. He’d also painted characters from the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas” on another window at The Studio, which is part of Gallant Therapy Services’ programming for adults with disabilities. Inside he’d done artwork for sale on winter hats featuring Frosty the Snowman and Yukon Cornelius.

Gingerbread-themed decorations can be seen Saturday in the window of Studio 330 salon in downtown Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Dreams Bridal Boutique also got into the holiday spirit, decorating its Water Street dress shop with lighted green and red dresses, as well as gingerbread men.

Deirdre Berglund, a bridal consultant at the shop, said they wanted to take part in the kid-centered festivities downtown even though a bridal shop doesn’t necessarily have items for sale that’d appeal to a child.

“We try to promote the local celebrations,” said Berglund, who noted they had a “Bride of Frankenstein” display up for last month’s downtown Halloween event. She said a bridal shop doesn’t necessarily see a boost in business when there are special events downtown, but they like to help support the other businesses there. She said downtown is a good spot for the shop because bridal parties can go celebrate at downtown restaurants after picking out their dresses.


At Merkaba Sol, a new age metaphysical shop that includes a chocolate section featuring some 275 different candies, owners David and Bishop Hopkins said business Saturday — traditionally billed as Small Business Saturday — had been good and was likely to pick up as more activities got underway in the afternoon leading up to the fireworks.

David Hopkins restocks ritual bath soak on a shelf Saturday at Merkaba Sol in downtown Augusta. Traditionally, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is known as Small Business Saturday. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“It’s been fun, everybody is having a good time,” David Hopkins said as he shrink-wrapped plastic seals on the bottles of bath salt mixes sold at the shop. “Everybody is getting involved with it, which is nice. The only way to survive is to help each other.”

Bishop Hopkins said they’re now making more of their own items for resale at Merkaba Sol, to help combat the rising cost of buying inventory.

They both said candy is a big seller for gift-giving, as they sold some 600 gift boxes of chocolate last Christmas.

Just up the street at T and K Tactical, Tony Lewis showed two customers a gun while his two Bernese mountain dogs played in the shop. He said downtown activities such as those going on Saturday don’t really help his business, and can actually make it harder for customers to get there when parts of the street are closed to traffic and parking. But he notes the location has been a good spot for his business anyway, since he moved in June of last year. He said customers buy guns as well as ammunition, gift certificates and accessories as holiday gifts.

“It has been a good spot, a lot of foot traffic, and other businesses have been welcoming here,” Lewis said.

At Wrapped Up, a coffee house and restaurant, co-owner Ryan Hill worked the counter Saturday morning but, by 3 p.m., he said co-owner Shawn Bloodsworth was expected to come in to work the shop so he could go enjoy the holiday festivities with his young family.

Saturday afternoon Santa Claus, as well as several costumed characters, were driven around many of Augusta’s neighborhoods with a police car and fire truck escort, where they were greeted by waving children. Old Fort Western hosted old-time Christmas events just across the river from downtown. And the annual tree lighting was set for Market Square on Water Street, to be followed by fireworks.

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