BELFAST, Maine — This weekend Santa Claus flew in to the Polar Air Mail Express celebration at the Owls Head Transportation Museum in a Piper Super Cub plane. In Camden, he landed in a tugboat for Christmas by the Sea.
But in Belfast — a town with a more blue-collar background — Santa came in a firetruck. And while crowds of children clapped and cheered his arrival Saturday evening, at least one wondered what had happened to St. Nick’s more traditional means of conveyance.
“Levi’s confused,” Jessica Woods of Belfast said of her young son, who had some questions. “I told him the sleigh wasn’t ready yet.”
Woods and her children were among a throng of people who came to watch as the tall evergreen next to Belfast City Hall was illuminated with a multitude of tiny white lights. The event was a highlight of the Old Fashioned Belfast Christmas festival, which began on Friday and will continue for the next two Saturdays.
Saturday’s activities featured strolling carolers, free photos with Santa, a performance at the Belfast Free Library, early bird specials in all downtown shops, a toe-tapping show by the Penobscot Bay Fiddlers and artists performing in a Main Street storefront window all afternoon and evening.
The festival was organized by Our Town Belfast, a new social, artistic and cultural effort that initiates and supports community and creative sustainability in downtown Belfast.
“We got loads of people here,” Larraine Brown, the group’s project manager, said after the tree lighting. “I’m so thrilled.”
Joanna Lovejoy of Northport said that she was thrilled, too, by the diverse events available throughout the day. She said she woke up early to score some bargains and then enjoyed the tree lighting with her family.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “It’s really fun.”
Her daughter, Olivia Lovejoy, 10, said that she also was having a good time.
“It’s pretty cool,” she said.
Gail Clark of Belfast said that she always enjoys the community’s Christmas offerings.
“I think it’s wonderful. It’s a small town, and they always do so much,” she said.
After the tree lighting, children ran in manic circles underneath its extended branches, the twinkling lights above illuminating their wide, wide smiles.
Megan Cullen of Belfast watched her daughter zip around the tree.
“It’s spectacular,” she said. “It’s our fourth year since we moved here, and we wouldn’t go anywhere else. We’re excited to see Belfast taking some fun steps forward.”