By Matt Daigle
OXFORD HILLS — The Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its annual Festival of Trees and Christmas Parade, set for Friday, Nov. 25 to Sunday, Nov. 27.
Jennifer Boenig of the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce said that the Christmas Parade is nearing its 40th year, while the Festival of Trees is entering its sixth year.
The Festival of Trees is scheduled to begin from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at the Twin Town Plaza at 243 Main St. in Paris.
Boenig said that the chamber is nearing 35 businesses, organizations, groups, or individuals who are purchasing artificial Christmas trees and decorating them to raffle off over Thanksgiving weekend.
“Normally, we average around 30 trees a year,” Boenig said. “Sometimes it’s a few lower, sometimes it’s a few higher. We’re doing good this year.”
She said that the new venue – the old Family Dollar building – is “a big plus for us.”
“We have the ability to open the space up a week before the Festival of Trees begins and let folks come in, set up their trees, and decorate them,” Boenig explained. “At the old venue, we weren’t able to get in there until the day before we held the festival.”
Admission to the venue is free for residents throughout the weekend. Raffle tickets will cost $1 for one ticket, $5 for six tickets, $10 for 15 tickets, and $20 for 35 tickets.
Boenig said that 20 percent of proceeds will go to local charities.
In 2015, the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce donated Rightstart Inc., and $500 each to the Oxford Hills Food Pantry in Norway, the food pantry at Guy E. Rowe School, and the Helping Hands Food Pantry in Oxford.
The Festival of Trees will also be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, and from 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27.
Boenig said that the winners of the raffle will be decided on Sunday, and that winners can pick up their trees between noon and 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28.
Boenig said that the Christmas Parade is due to take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26.
Boenig said that the theme for this year’s Christmas parade is “The Sounds of Christmas,” and that normally, “anywhere between 40 and 50 businesses are represented in the parade, in some manner.”
“Right now, we have all of our usual suspects, such as the Norway Savings Bank, Paris Farmers Union, Wal-Mart, and Stephens Memorial Hospital,” Boenig said. “We always have some folks that come and go, depending on the year.”
The parade will begin at Main Street in Norway, in front of Ari’s Pizza, and will continue on to Market Square in Paris.
Boenig said it will be made up of many businesses and organizations, some of which created floats ahead of time that will be judged by a panel of locals.
The judges for the upcoming parade includes Recreation Director Deb Partridge, Judy Green of Crazy Horse Racing, and Lt. Christine Yates of the Norway Fire Department.
Boenig pointed out that the Progress Center and Community Kitchen in Norway will be open on the morning of the parade, offering a place for residents to “warm up and get hot chocolate and cookies” before the parade begins.
Partridge will also have stops along Main Street where some businesses will be giving away cookies and hot chocolate.
Boenig said that every year, the parade route through Norway and Paris is “packed.”
“The police chiefs in Norway and Paris estimated that somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 people have been watching the parade as of late,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing.”
For more information on the Festival of Trees or the Chamber Christmas Parade, call Boenig at 743-2281 or email firstname.lastname@example.org