YARMOUTH, Maine — The Yarmouth Clam Festival parade always had one grand marshal, but there will be eight honorees this year, with a “Famous Mainahs” theme.
The 49th annual festival will feature a number of famous Mainers during its Friday night parade, including ultimate CBS “Survivor” Bob Crowley, stars of Animal Planet’s “North Woods Law,” Steve Thomas of the PBS program “This Old House,” Olympic luger Julia Clukey, the Freeport Flag Ladies, “Marden’s lady” Birdie Googins, journalist Shannon Moss and local TV news reporters.
“It’s such a great spread of personalities,” Chelsea DiConzo, administrative assistant for the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, said. “There’s something for everyone.”
The Yarmouth Clam Festival is one of Maine’s most popular summertime events, with more than 100,000 people attending the event each year in a town of fewer than 9,000 residents.
The parade is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday and will last about an hour, while it makes its way down Main Street. The famous Mainers will be interspersed throughout the mile-and-a-half route, either riding in convertibles or on floats.
“Survivor Bob” will be riding on a Hannaford Bros. float, which will be decorated with a “Survivor” theme. The supermarket chain was already planning this float design before the theme of the parade was decided, according to Crowley. He said this made it easy to decide which float he would ride.
“If there was going to be a ‘Survivor’ float, I might as well be on it,” Crowley said Monday.
Crowley, who lives in South Portland, said he is looking forward to participating in the parade because it will be a relaxing day of meeting people and enjoying the festival. He said he’s excited to meet not only the spectators but other famous Mainers as well.
“It’s always fun meeting interesting Mainers,” he said.
According to DiConzo, residents of Yarmouth are looking forward to the new approach as well.
“We’ve got great feedback,” DiConzo said. “People are so excited because they know who [the famous Mainers] are.”
The number of chairs already lining the parade route Monday suggested DiConzo’s remarks were on target. According to Yarmouth resident Debbie Godowsky, 852 chairs were on Main Street as of 6 p.m. Sunday, five days before the parade.
Godowsky, owner of Cookies Direct, held a contest for the second year in a row to determine how many chairs were set out in advance. She asked people last week on her company’s Facebook page to submit their guesses by the end of the day. The winner would receive a gift basket of cookies.
“It’s a fun way to make the [Yarmouth] Clam Festival a little more fun,” Godowsky said.
The winner was a Pownal resident, who guessed 842 chairs. Godowsky said only five of the 90 guesses entered were too high — the majority of guesses were between the 400-500 range. She said that made sense, since there were 472 chairs along Main Street at same time last year.
Godowsky said setting the chairs out early gets people excited for the festival and that it speaks to the nature of the town.
“Only in a town like Yarmouth can you leave your chairs out all week long and no one will touch them. That’s Maine,” Godowsky said.
DiConzo said focusing on Maine and its spirit was a reason behind choosing the parade’s theme.
“Why not focus on people from Maine, who have had greatness or made an impact?” DiConzo said.
The festival’s three-day run will also feature its usual activities: crafts, a carnival, races, fireworks, musical acts, pancake breakfasts, a firefighters’ muster and a clam shucking contest. The full of schedule of events can be found online at clamfestival.com/schedule.
DiConzo said she hopes the famous Mainers will attend some of the other activities at the festival and meet people in attendance, but she acknowledges it will depend on their schedules. She said she’s just happy to have found so many of them who were available and excited to be part of the parade.
DiConzo said the people chosen by the chamber will highlight many aspects of life in Maine, as does the Yarmouth Clam Festival itself.
“We wanted a good representation of all things Maine,” she said.