Brian Tracy loves Bangor’s Festival of Lights parade. Attending it has been a Tracy family tradition since he was a kid growing up on Lincoln Street. This year the 41-year-old hotel maintenance worker and lobsterman drove from his home in Bar Harbor, about an hour away, to keep the tradition alive.
But it’s gotten a tad sedate for his taste.
“One of the biggest things is you don’t have all the sirens and stuff going off like they used to. It doesn’t seem as loud as it used to be,” Tracy said as the parade marched past him and his wife and daughter near the central fire station on Main Street. “I liked it better when it was flashy and loud.”
As many as 15,000 people watched the parade’s 80 floats glide by on Saturday, before City Council Chairwoman Clare Davitt lit the holiday tree in West Market Square, said Roland Narofsky, who oversees the parade as a member of the Rotary Club of Bangor.
Organized since 2000 by the club, the parade has long been the state’s largest.
“By all the feedback I have had at this point, there were some good floats, some good performance acts, and everything went smoothly,” Narofsky said. “It could have been warmer, but at least it wasn’t raining.”
Area dance troupes, dogs, fire dancers, emergency service vehicles, marching bands and carolers were among the participants. Although Narosky said that the club has never forbade the fire trucks, police cars and ambulances from using sirens and horns, and he couldn’t recall them ever setting them off during the festival parade. They did activate their emergency lights.
The lack of horns and sirens was probably a good thing. The club added two speakers along the parade route to allow more attendees to hear the running commentary provided by the judges in the parade float contest.
For the first time in at least two decades, the holiday tree was topped with an ornament – a star. Rotary members added the star this year to give the tree for some new visual interest for the square’s visitors, Narosky said.
The Hampden Academy Choir sang carols as part of the festival for the first time. Singing in the square was more challenging than performing indoors, choir director Heidi Corliss said.
“All of the sound usually goes up into the air, up into the night sky,” Corliss said.
Downtown merchants hope to have area choirs perform at the square Saturdays from noon to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. for the rest of the month, but they need the carolers to contact them for bookings, said Cheryl Michaud, owner of West Market Square Artisan Coffee House.