NORWAY — The state’s largest Christmas parade is set to step off Saturday, Nov. 28 at 11 a.m. with dozens of floats, fire trucks, music and much more, including Santa Claus.
“People are coming in every day to sign up,” said Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Williams.
This year, participants have been asked to dress their floats using the theme a “Toyland Christmas,” which will depict the idea of a faraway land filled with magical toys.
“We’re expecting up to 50 floats,” said Williams of the parade, which annually draws in about 5,000 people. The popular Silver Dolphins drill team from Groton, Conn., will also march again in the parade this year. Music will be provided in part by the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School band and the Oxford Hills Middle School band.
The parade, which features Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, will start on Main Street in Norway, at the corner of Whitman Street, and end in Market Square in Paris.
Williams said other cities such as Lewiston and Auburn and Portland have Christmas parades, but the Norway-Paris parade has more “moving parts.”
“We just have a larger outpouring not only from businesses but from the fire departments in our 13 towns,” Williams said. All the fire departments participate in the parade as well as first responders and others. “It’s massive in that regard.”
The parade and accompanying three-day Festival of Trees, which will run Friday, Nov. 27 through Sunday, Nov. 29, and draws people from across the state and even beyond.
“We’re in a rural area. [The parade] draws from a lot of different areas,” said Williams of the thousands of people who come not only from Oxford Hills but from the Lakes Region, Lewiston-Auburn and beyond.
The fifth annual Festival of Trees returns to the Four Seasons Function Center at 187 Main St. in Paris, said Williams. It will begin on Friday, Nov. 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. with the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce open house. On Saturday, Nov. 28, the event is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Nov. 29 from noon to 4 p.m.
Williams said Santa and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance after the parade on Saturday, Nov. 28 and children may have their pictures taken with the jolly couple for free. Parents and others are encouraged to bring their cameras for the opportunity that Williams called, “the real heart” of the three-day event.
Children who visit with the Clauses will all go home with a gift.
All the trees on display from the Festival of Trees are raffled off. The winner will take home the tree, decorations and any gifts on or under the tree. A portion of the proceeds from the event goes to a local charity.
Anyone interested in registering to participate with a float or tree should contact the chamber at 743-2281.