HOULTON, Maine — Planners of this year’s Midnight Madness celebration are counting on shoppers to come out and say “Ahoy, matey” as they catch some bargains in downtown Market Square.
The late-night shopping extravaganza, which launches the town’s Fourth of July festivities, will run from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, July 3. This year’s theme is “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
The 23rd annual event is sponsored by the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce.
Lori Weston, executive director of the Chamber, said Tuesday that planners are gearing up for the event.
“It is going to be a great time and we are really excited about it,” she said. “We want everyone to come out and have a good time.”
During Midnight Madness, the town closes off Market Square to traffic and opens it to shoppers who jam downtown stores looking for bargains.
Shoppers also hit the outskirts of town to take advantage of additional deals offered by merchants. To decrease traffic and parking congestion, a shuttle bus will carry people from downtown to the North Street shopping area throughout the evening.
The deals get better as the night goes on, with shoppers finding the best bang for their buck as the clock moves closer to midnight.
For the past several years, planners have created a theme for the event, such as “Stepping Back into the ’70s,” “Pioneer Days” and “Hawaiian Luau.”
“We always look for a theme that is easy to do and will get a lot of people into the downtown,” Weston said. “This year, the shopkeepers and employees are going to dress as pirates and decorate their stores to go along with the theme. It will be a lot of fun.”
As in past years, music will be a key element of the event. Weston said McGill’s Community Band will host a concert in Monument Park, and Tim “The Tuneman” Humphrey will be in Market Square playing songs throughout the evening. A new addition this year is Ravocta, a rock band composed of area musicians.
Door prizes and deals will be offered and food will be sold at several places throughout the night.
Weston said that this year’s celebration is even more exciting due to the new businesses that have set up shop in town. She said she expected a big crowd as in previous years.
“It really is a draw because people are home for the Fourth of July and for class reunions, and they get a chance to come out and take part in the festivities and see everyone,” she said Tuesday. “It is just a great time all around.”