HARRISON—The town is geared up and ready for tonight’s kick off of the annual four-day Christmas in Harrison event to celebrate Christmas in New England the old fashioned way.
The first event of the festival is Soup and Song at 6:30 p.m. tonight, Thursday, at United Parish Congregational Church, 77 Main St. April Frank, coordinator of Christmas in Harrison, asks those attending to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the food pantry.
“It stays here in Harrison,” she says about the food donations.
After Soup and Song is a musical program upstairs and then there’s a live nativity outside of the church.
This year’s theme is “Under the Mistletoe” and Frank says she and her small group of volunteers have been working for a while now to pull off the multi-day event for the Harrison and the surrounding communities to enjoy.
“It’s just to bring the spirit of Christmas to the area. It’s not just about Harrison,” she says. “Each year we try to make the things we have worthwhile.”
All day Friday residents and visitors alike will be able to stroll through the village to enjoy homes and businesses that have been festively decorated for the holidays. Santa arrives at the Town Office at 20 Front St. at 6:45 p.m. to light the Christmas tree. A warming fire with marshmallows, hot chocolate and sugar cookies will be available for attendees, and Santa will listen to children’s Christmas wishes inside the Town Hall from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“We don’t charge for anything,” Frank says. “Donations are accepted, though.”
Saturday has a full schedule of events. Two breakfasts are available, with a buffet from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Olde Mill Tavern, 56 Main St., which is sponsored by United Parish Congregational Church of Harrison and North Bridgton. Donations are accepted and will go to Christmas food cards and fuel assistance to those in need in the community. The other breakfast, along with lunch items, is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the grange hall at the corner of Main and Lincoln streets.
Area businesses and organizations throughout town will host open houses from morning until early afternoon Saturday.
The Christmas Parade steps off at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday on Depot Street, travels through the village on Main Street and ends at the fire station on School Street, Frank says. Santa will again ride in style on the antique fire truck, Old Engine 1, since it had its engine restored last year. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. there’s craft fairs at the grange hall and Town Office, along with children’s crafts and a Chinese auction from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lions Den. A Cookie Walk and gingerbread man making will happen from 10 a.m. to noon at Harrison Village Library, 4 Front St., photos with Santa will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at the Olde Mill Tavern and Christmas tree sale supporting the Harrison community, sponsored by the Lions Club, will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Village Tie Up parking lot. Swag making occurs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m in the garage at the Town Office, along with a treasure hunt from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., while the Brass Ensemble wanders through the village from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. playing live tunes. Horse-drawn wagon wides through the village from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“People love that,” Frank says about the wagon rides. “Kids love to get on the wagon and ride … down the street.”
From 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. the Waterford World’s Fair Supper will be held at North Waterford Congregational Church, off Route 35, with its famous baked haddock dinner. Ending Saturday is the Christmas Dance with Santa that has been revived this year from 8 p.m. to midnight with Montgomery Road Band at the VFW Hall, 176 Waterford Road. It’s a bring your own booze event.
Rounding out Christmas in Harrison is a breakfast buffet from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday at Ruby Slippers Cafe and Bakery, and a spaghetti dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Lion’s Den.
Frank says the volunteer group to put on the festival has been dwindling over the years, which is why she took over last year.
“We can’t emphasis enough we need help. … It doesn’t have to be young blood, it can be new blood. We’ll take any ages,” she says, adding they’re also looking for new ideas. “We’re hoping to rejuvenate some life [into the festival]. From the outside looking in, I don’t think anyone notices. … The more the merrier.”
Those interested in volunteering and helping out with Christmas in Harrison can contact Frank at 743-0048.