Horses Jessie and Duffy of Belgian Meadow Farms pull a wagon of family and friends through Sanford as part of a previous year's Holly Daze festivities. Credit: Penny Mills | York County Coast Star

Mark your calendars and plan to be home for the Holly Daze.

The city of Sanford’s annual kickoff to the holiday season will return in a couple of weeks with festivities sure to put the community in the mood to celebrate.

Keeping with tradition, the Holly Daze parade will start the fun on Friday, Dec. 7. The parade will begin at Dairy Queen on York Street and will proceed north on Main Street to Central Park in downtown Sanford at 5:30 p.m. As always, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be in the parade, waving to boys and girls of all ages from a sleigh pulled by Belgian Meadows horses.

After the parade, the Clauses will gather with the community in Central Park to turn on the lights of the city’s Christmas tree.

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No worries if it’s cold that evening: cups of hot mulled cider will be served at the Sanford Mainers office at 917 Main St. and hot chocolate and popcorn will be offered at Garnsey Brothers Insurance at 909 Main St. Also, the Gotta Be Frank food truck will be parked on site and will sell refreshments.

The Sanford-Springvale Recreation Department is organizing the parade. To fill out an application to take part in the parade, prospective participants are urged to visit www.sanfordrec.com. For more information, they can call 207-324-9130.

Holly Daze will continue on Saturday, Dec. 8, with activities planned at locations throughout the downtown from 10 a.m. to noon. Helen Hajny, the owner of the Get Fired Up pottery studio, and Thea Murphy, the director of the Y Trafton Senior Center, are co-organizers of the day’s attractions.

According to Hajny, numerous local businesses are getting in on the holiday fun. Among them: Get Fired Up at 883 Main St.; Goodall Library at 952 Main St.; Hollywood Hair at 4 Washington St.; Literacy Volunteers of Greater Sanford at 883 Main St.; the Sanford Mainers Baseball Organization at 917 Main St.; SIS Bank at 900 Main St.; Snip and Tone at 890 Main St.; Third Alarm Diner at 47 Washington St.; Town Square Realty at 883 Main St.; and the Trafton Center at 19 Elm St.

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At 10 a.m. that Saturday, children and their parents can report either to the Trafton Center or Get Fired Up to receive a bag to take to each of the above participating businesses. Each business will be handing out candy or knickknacks — Third Alarm Diner, for example, will be offering kits for making gingerbread men.

“It’s like trick-or-treating at Christmas,” Hajny said.

Children will be able to have their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Literacy Volunteers of Greater Sanford office from 10 a.m. to noon. As well, people can take a horse-drawn wagon ride throughout the downtown, courtesy of Belgian Meadows. Members of Our Theater Company will lead caroling during the wagon rides.

H.A. Mapes and Jim’s Alignment are both sponsoring the wagon rides, according to Hajny.

As well on Saturday, Sanford High School Project Graduation 2019 will host a craft fair at the Memorial Gym at 678 Main St., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Once again, the Sanford Mainers baseball organization is sponsoring a Christmas tree-decorating contest. In the past, festival-goers could visit a specific site, see the trees, and cast votes for their favorites.

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This year will be different: contestants will decorate and display their trees at their place of business for a whole week leading up to Holly Daze. People will be encouraged to visit these businesses throughout the week and see the trees. During Holly Daze on Saturday, Dec. 8, people then can report to the Sanford Mainers office at 917 Main St. to cast their votes for their favorite trees between 10 a.m. and noon.

Businesses that would like to participate in the tree-decorating contest can call Hajny at 207-651-1806. In addition, anyone who would like to get involved in Holly Daze in any way is encouraged to call Hajny.

A full list of businesses and organizations participating in the tree-decorating contest will be posted online at www.sanfordmainers.com on Saturday, Dec. 1.