Caribou celebrates 150th with parade, fireworks

Posted Sept. 04, 2009, at 8:14 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:42 a.m.

CARIBOU, Maine — A newcomer to the city and the state, 38-year-old Nicole Matthews admitted earlier this week that she knows “absolutely nothing” about Caribou’s history.

But the former Hartford, Conn., resident plans to take her first lesson this weekend, as she and her family attend the city’s 150th anniversary celebration.

“It seems like it is a good chance to get out and show my kids more of the city,” said Matthews, who moved to Caribou with her three children in May. “We have been to the schools and the parks and to most of the businesses, but we really don’t know a lot about the city’s history. We also haven’t really gotten out and attended any communitywide events so that we can meet new people. We need to do that.”

Matthews plans to take her children, ranging in age from 2 to 11 years, to most of today’s events.

The Sesquicentennial Celebration based on the city’s founding in 1859 began in February. The largest portion of the fete began Aug. 22 and runs through Sunday.

Many of the events are being sponsored by the 150th Celebration Committee.

Today, Company B, 20th Regiment Maine Volunteer Infantry will maintain a Civil War encampment in Teague Park beginning at 10 a.m. They will run drills and participate in the Sesquicentennial Parade, which begins at 1 p.m.

Touted as “the grandest parade seen in Caribou since the 100th celebration in 1959,” the procession will feature pageant queens and marching bands, antique cars and tractors, and floats from area businesses. Entrants will snake along the customary parade route.

At 10:30 a.m., the Queen’s Tea will be held in the Chan Center at Cary Medical Center. The tea will honor the city’s former Miss Caribous as well as Miss Caribou 2009. Tickets at the door are $5. The event will run until 12:30 p.m., and the queens will take part in the parade.

After the parade ends at Caribou High School, the community is putting on a barbecue at the school with band performances. It will run until the fireworks begin. At 7 p.m., U.S. Sen. Susan Collins will speak, and a cake will be cut and served.

The highlight of the day will be the fireworks display at 8 p.m. The show will be set to music at Caribou High School. There is limited parking at the high school, but free shuttles from downtown will run every 20 minutes along parade route locations.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, an ecumenical service will be held at the Caribou Performing Arts Center.

The sesquicentennial fete has been under way for much of the year, with at least one celebration-related event each month. Businesses have held parties, open houses and customer appreciation days, and families have been invited to genealogy workshops to learn to trace their family roots.

Fundraisers, barbecues, snowmobile runs, holiday decorating contests and more will continue through December.

The final event will be the Jefferson Cary Foundation New Year’s Eve Party at the Caribou Inn and Convention Center from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dec. 31.

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