SACO – On Saturday, Dec. 10, the place for holiday lovers will be downtown Saco for the city’s annual Holiday Festival. New this year is a parade of lights and a Toys for Tots benefit dinner at Thornton Academy.
“We hope the whole community will come out to enjoy some wholesome family fun,” said Nadeen DeSilva, executive director of Saco Spirit, which is sponsoring the festival.
It was DeSilva’s idea to add the parade to the mix of events offered, after she heard about a similar successful parade of lights in Waterville.
Those marching in the parade, which will start at 5 p.m. at C.K Burns School, on Middle Street Extension, and then continue on Main Street, include Santa’s elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Also signed up to take part are local Boy Scout troops, the Saco Bay Rotary Club, Prime Auto, the Oakhurst Dairy buggy, three floats from the Saco River Winter Market, Slugger the Sea Dogs mascot, Mrs. Saco, the Community Animal Watch committee from Old Orchard Beach, the Saco and Old Orchard Beach fire departments, the Way, Way Store, the Steppin Out Dance Center and Saco Parks & Recreation.
“I thought the parade would be a great addition to our festival and maybe a tradition for years to come,” DeSilva said this week. In fact, the parade has proved so popular that she’s still fielding requests from those interested in participating.
Over at Thornton Academy, the school will host a Toys for Tots benefit dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m. The cost for the event, which includes a choice of pasta or baked beans and hot dogs, is $7 for adults and $3.50 for children, 2-12.
The dinner will be followed by the school’s traditional tree-lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m., which will include a sing-a-long and hot cocoa with cookies.
DeSilva said this is the first year that Saco Spirit, Thornton Academy and Toys for Tots have teamed up in this way, but she hopes it will also become an annual tradition.
Other highlights of the Holiday Festival include the Cookie Walk, noon-2 p.m. Tins are available for $10 at Sam’s Place, but only 60 will be sold. Get two cookies from each of the 19 participating merchants for a total of 38 freshly baked cookies.
Also, noon-2 p.m. will be gingerbread man and gingerbread house decorating. Horse and buggy rides will be offered noon-4 p.m. and visits with Santa, at City Hall, will be held 2-4 p.m.
Then at 5:30 p.m., the floats participating in the parade will return to Main Street for judging and a “best float” winner will be named.
“I would like to see everyone turn off their computers and cell phones and come to downtown Saco,” DeSilva said. “This is a time for kids to be kids, visiting Santa or taking a horse and buggy ride. The parade of lights should also be fantastic. These are tough times for everyone and I just hope the Holiday Festival helps to lift people’s spirits a little, even if it’s just for a day.”
In addition to Saco Spirit, the event sponsors are Digital Sky LLC, Saco Valley Credit Union, Bangor Savings Bank, Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution, Town and Country Federal Credit Union, the Bank of Maine, Southern Maine Medical Center, German Auto, 99.9 The Wolf, Worthing & Going, the Hampton Inn, the city of Saco and Thornton Academy.