ELLSWORTH, Maine — The snow came down — heavy; at times — and created a New England white Christmas atmosphere for the city’s annual Christmas parade Saturday.
But the snow didn’t deter parade goers who lined Main Street, many arriving early to stake out prime parade viewing spots. Carolyn Hawkins of Ellsworth and her son, Mason, 3, bundled up in the back of their pickup truck to watch as the parade passed.
“It’s tradition,” Hawkins said. “I’ve been coming since I was eight.”
The theme for the parade, which is sponsored by the Downtown Business Association, was “Santa’s Workshop” and many of the floats featured Kris Kringle and his elves.
The parade watchers who may have come the farthest to see the parade were Nina Mityanskaya of Vladivostok, Russia and Diana Vicol of Moldova, near Romania. The two teenagers are exchange students staying with John and Ginger Cunningham of Franklin through the Pacific International Exchange program and are attend-ing Sumner High School this year.
Although they both are used to snow in their respective countries, the girls watched the parade huddled in a business doorway.
“We have a lot of snow,” Mityanskaya said. “I just don’t like it.”
They enjoyed the festivities but noted the difference in the celebration from that in their homelands. Their Orthodox Christian tradition celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7 and their New Year celebrations are more like our Christmas traditions.
“That is when we have parades and give presents,” Mityanskaya said.
The parade annually kicks off the official Christmas season downtown and often brings in people who don’t always shop downtown.
“This is one of our biggest days. The parade brings a lot of people downtown and it’s great for our toy department,” said Lass King, the manager at The Grasshopper Shop. “We have Black Friday and then the parade happens. It’s the official beginning of the Christmas season.”
Although there were numerous accidents throughout the region during the snowstorm, the weather didn’t seem to keep anyone from attending the parade, King said.
“Downtown was pretty packed; the streets were lined with people,” she said.
And though the crowds don’t always translate into immediate sales, the parade attracts potential customers to the city.
“We get a lot folks who come in with their children,” said Tammy Deckers, owner of Four the Fun of It, a Main Street toy store. “They’ve got the kids with them so they don’t always buy a lot. But it’s a good time for folks to come in and get ideas.”
“We were quite busy this morning,” she said. “And the snow really gave an awesome Christmas feeling to the parade.”