GREENVILLE, Maine — They are seasonal residents but Lauri and John Waitkus of Massachusetts have wholeheartedly adopted Greenville.
On Thursday, the couple sponsored their third annual Family Fun Day for local residents which included horse-drawn wagon rides, fireworks, a professional juggler, a clown and refreshments, all free of charge.
“We’re pleasantly surprised at the turnout,” Lauri Waitkus said Thursday, noting that more than 300 people and children attended the nearly daylong event.
The children had a blast getting their faces painted, watching the performances and sipping hot cocoa.
Allison St. Jean of Greenville, who waited while her daughter Lakely St. Jean, 3, had a penguin painted on her face, said the event gave children something to do during vacation week. “Our kids like it,” she said, noting her appreciation.
The Waitkuses are no strangers to Greenville. The couple, who run a construction company specializing in bridges in Massachusetts, have contracted with the town the past few years to provide trail grooming on about 61 miles of the Interconnecting Snowmobile Trail in the Moosehead Lake region. The contract amount hasn’t totally covered the cost of grooming the trail, but Lauri Waitkus said the couple knew that beforehand. She said the town had “stepped to the plate” when asked, and the relationship has worked well.
Even though the contract has fallen short of the amount of work required, the Waitkuses say they’re willing to work with the town for next year’s grooming.
Lauri Waitkus said the family has always enjoyed snowmobiling and has always made it a family event. “Our kids grew up in that atmosphere,” she said. “We like to see families snowmobile together and get involved in winter activities in the community.”
Thus, the couple decided three years ago to promote winter togetherness with a free fun day. All of the expenses for the event are funded by the couple.
The couple even purchased more than 100 $5 gift certificates to the Mud Puddle Mercantile Store in Greenville. The store provided a discount to the couple who awarded the gift certificates to the 68 local schoolchildren in grades three, four and five who had participated in an art project involving the fun day. The remainder of the gift certificates were given out Thursday.
“It’s just been really, really nice,” Lauri Waitkus said of the gathering.