A man on a decorated tractor drives during the SKOW-Whoville Holiday Parade while waving to the parade-goers Friday night in Skowhegan. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — The Sousa family had never been to SKOW-Whoville before. But they didn’t hesitate to be the first to enter a Christmas tree decorating competition held Saturday morning.

Their “Nightmare Before Christmas”-themed tree didn’t have any competitors shortly after the contest started at 10 a.m., though they expected several more to join soon.

“We figured everyone was going to do the Grinch,” Marshall Sousa said, as his family hung ornaments on the tree in the parking lot behind Joe’s Flat Iron Café.

The Sousas, who recently moved to Mercer, were one of hundreds of families who flocked to downtown Skowhegan this weekend for a full slate of Grinch-themed fun to kick off the holiday season.

The annual event, organized by the nonprofit Main Street Skowhegan, featured a parade, dozens of free family activities and an evening bar crawl, among several other activities throughout the weekend.

“We’re super excited to host an event that’s largely free for families to come out and enjoy Skowhegan,” said Kristina Cannon, president and CEO of Main Street Skowhegan.


The weekend’s festivities kicked off Friday night with the SKOW-Whoville parade. Thousands of people, by Cannon’s estimate, lined the route beginning at the courthouse and looping around downtown.

A festive dog walks through the SKOW-Whoville Holiday Parade Friday night in Skowhegan. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

The rain held off for just long enough for them to enjoy the spectacle of more than 40 parade floats.

“I heard a lot of people say that this was the best one yet,” Cannon said. “And that’s our goal.”

Karen Dore of Skowhegan watched the Friday night parade outside the Redington Memorial Home on North Avenue, where she works as activity director for its senior residents.

Many of the home’s residents watched from the windows, Dore said, and she made sure to film the parade on her phone for those who may have missed it.

“It was awesome,” Dore said. “There was a lot of effort put into it.”


Danielle Sousa, of Mercer, decorates a Christmas tree as part of a competition on Saturday. Jake Freudberg/Morning Sentinel

Saturday’s SKOW-Whovillage Stroll included free craft-making at several businesses, a Grinch-themed scavenger hunt, and lots of free snacks. An animatronic singing pig — new to the lineup this year — serenaded passersby across from ZAAP Thai Restaurant, and horses from Seavey Farm in North Anson provided carriage rides in a loop on side streets.

The added benefit of the fun that Main Street Skowhegan plans is that the weekend’s events draw people into local businesses, Cannon said.

Sally Preble, who opened River’s Edge Teas and Treats on Water Street in September, said Saturday morning that it was a busy weekend so far. “A lot of people, new faces,” Preble said.

Inside Computer Improvements on Water Street, children and their families packed into the back room to decorate cookies with the help of volunteers from the Skowhegan Women’s Club.

Ada Libby, 5, walked out with a smile on her face, showing off her “rockstar” cookie — with “all the sprinkles.”

Across the street, Dylan White was working on the scavenger hunt with two of his daughters, Leah, 7, and Kalli, 9.


Ada Libby, 5, decorates a cookie with help from volunteers from the Skowhegan Woman’s Club. Jake Freudberg/Morning Sentinel

“The kids have a great time,” White said, as his kids spotted one of the items from their list in a window display. “They ask every year” to go to Whoville, he said.

With the temperature in the low 40s, White said it was warmer than last year, which made walking around more enjoyable.

The Grinch himself, along with Martha May Whovier, Cindy Lou Who and Max the Dog, were out and about taking pictures throughout the morning.

The Grinch was spotted outside the Skowhegan Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Kevin Withee said he has been dressing up as the character for the past three or four years.

His message — speaking as the Grinch, of course — to the residents of SKOW-Whoville: “Make sure you hide all your presents.”

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