GREENVILLE, Maine — Like Pied Pipers, John and Lauri Waitkus drew the attention of children from throughout the Moosehead Lake region Thursday as the seasonal Greenville residents hosted their fourth annual Family Fun Day.
The couple, who own a construction company in Massachusetts specializing in bridges, adore their adopted hometown, enjoy children and love snowmobiling, so the combination made sense, according to Lauri Waitkus. Attendance has grown each year at the event, and about 400 children participated last year.
“We enjoy seeing the kids and the families come to Greenville to enjoy the winter festivities,” Lauri Waitkus said Thursday. “It’s a fun time for the whole family to get out and enjoy a beautiful day, and then we top it off with fireworks.”
Enjoyment it was. The kids were immersed in the activities, having their faces painted, watching a juggler’s antics, riding in a horse-drawn wagon and making clowns of themselves.
“This is awesome,” Isaac Burdin, 9, of Greenville said Thursday. He held an animal balloon while waiting for clown school. Asked what he would say to the Waitkuses for the free fun, Burdin said, “A thank-you.”
“I think this is fantastic, a day like this for family activities. This town is just full of families right now,” Greenville Town Manager Gary Lamb said Thursday. He said snowmobilers were everywhere and that they and others were looking forward to the fireworks. “This community is extremely appreciative of that gift.”
Asked how much the couple invests in the event, Lauri Waitkus replied, “That’s not what’s important.” While most of the costs are borne by the couple, several volunteers assisted at the event, including Pat Huckins and her husband, Dave Vaughn, of Greenville, who donated their time and clown outfits for the clown school and parade.
Lauri Waitkus said it takes the couple about three months to coordinate the events.
For several years, the Waitkuses have contracted with Greenville to groom about 61 miles of the Interconnecting Snowmobile Trail in the Moosehead Lake region. The contract amount never has covered the grooming costs, but that hasn’t deterred them from providing the service.
“You never make money grooming, it’s just something that John and I like doing,” Lauri Waitkus said. “We’re a snowmobiling family, and we enjoy the area.”