BANGOR, Maine — Sara Hunt got a really good look at Santa Claus on Saturday when his reindeer and sleigh touched down to join the Festival of Lights parade.
Just as the jolly old man was heading down Main Street, Jim Hunt, 42, of Dedham lifted his 9-year-old daughter onto his shoulders. Sara Hunt bounced a bit as she waved excitedly at the man in the red suit and her father clutched her legs.
Standing in front of the Grasshopper Shop, the pair also had a perfect view when the Christmas tree in West Market Square suddenly lit up to cheers from the thousands that turned out for the annual holiday event that marked its 30th anniversary this season.
“It was really great,” Sara Hunt said of the parade. “Seeing Santa was the best part.”
Harry and Joanne Bishop of Addison hadn’t been to the parade since its early years in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. The grandparents of four, with a fifth grandchild on the way, were in Bangor over the weekend shopping for Christmas gifts and decided to head downtown for the parade.
“We came to the parade to get into the holiday spirit,” Joanne Bishop said. “And the snow that was falling when were coming down here [from Addison] really helped.”
The large snowflakes that blanketed Bangor on Saturday morning were over by the time people began picking out good spots about 3 p.m. to watch the nearly 40 entrants slowly come down Main Street from Railroad Street at 4:30 p.m. The parade turned left on to Central Street, then, right on Harlow Street before ending at the Bank of America building on Exchange Street.
The parade lineup this year included two high school bands, five churches, six non-profit organizations, more than 20 businesses including dancing and karate studios, four Boy Scout troops, nearly a dozen horses and the Marines Corps Reserves.
Sponsors of the parade were the Bangor Rotary, Oxford Networks and WABI-TV, Channel 5.