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.
As the jolly old man headed 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 who turned out for the annual holiday event marking its 30th anniversary this season, according to the script prepared by the parade’s sponsor.
“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 we 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 more than 40 entrants slowly come down Main Street from Railroad Street at 4:30 p.m. The parade turned left onto Central Street, then right onto Harlow Street before ending at the Bank of America building on Exchange Street.
Susan Jonason, president of the Bangor Rotary, which co-sponsored the event, said Sunday she was pleased and proud of how it went and of the club’s efforts. This was the first year Jonason has attended the parade.
“It was a perfect day for it,” she said in a phone interview Sunday. “What I was hearing from the crowd was great. Everyone just seemed to really love it.”
The parade lineup this year included two high school bands, five churches, six nonprofit organizations, more than 20 businesses including dancing and karate studios, four Boy Scout troops, nearly a dozen horses and the Marine Corps Reserves.
Sponsors of the parade were the Bangor Rotary, Oxford Networks and WABI-TV.
Winning participants in the parade by category were:
Performance group — Morgan Hill Dancers from Morita’s School of Dance.
Youth group — World of Twirl Baton Twirling Teams.
Adult group — Step in Time Cloggers.
Nonprofit group — tie: Cub Scout Pack 45 and East Orrington Congregational Church.
Commercial group — Bangor Gas.
Band — Pride of Madawaska Marching Band.