Lea Wait here, reporting on yet another wonderful Maine festival — the Harbor Lights Festival in Boothbay
Harbor. This year was the 27th, held each year on the first weekend in December, and each year it’s gotten bigger and better.
Some events, like the Festival of Trees sponsored by the Boothbay Region Garden Club at the Opera House, started Friday, and went on all weekend. Many towns have Festivals of Trees, in which organizations or individuals decorate trees and compete to see which is the most glorious or creative. But in Boothbay there’s a twist. Most of the trees here were part of a silent auction (money to go to Garden Club community projects), along with hundreds of other food and holiday plants, crafts, and other donated items. After the weekend, those trees that were not sold were stripped and then donated (with bags of ornaments) to deserving families in the Harbor who couldn’t afford a tree this holiday season, so those families could have the joy of decorating their own tree.
During the weekend holiday meals were served at several of the churches in town, there was a craft fair at the fire house, and, of course, holiday sales at most of the stores. The local elementary school sold wreaths. The Art Foundation not only had a special sale (its artists painted 12 x 12 canvases particularly for the occasion, all marked $100) but hosted a Holiday Reception Saturday afternoon. Their receipts supported young artists through an Art Scholarship Fund.
The highlight of the day, however, was Santa’s arrival. No reindeer for mid-coast Maine: Santa and his friends the lobster, the moose, the Christmas tree, the gingerbread man, and, of course, Mrs. Claus and the elves, arrived by boat at the town pier, escorted by the Coast Guard. They then rode in a horse-drawn wagon to the library,
where they greeted their public during the afternoon. (The wagon
was available for rides for the rest of the day.)
Books, are, of course, a part of a Christmas celebration. One elf at Sherman’s bookstore spent the afternoon reading Christmas books to any children who wanted a warm place to sit down and listen to a story while they were waiting for 3:30.
That’s when everyone gathered on the library lawn for a community carol sing, followed by the town tree lighting. At 4:30 everyone was invited (and most went) to follow the Three Wise Men from the library across the footbridge that crosses the Harbor to Our Lady Queen of Peace Church where a live nativity scene was unveiled, and cocoa and cookies were shared.
And at 5:00, if you were wondering why the name of the Festival was Harbor Lights, your question was answered, as local fisherman, lobstermen, and those owning any other sort of boat, including the Coast Guard, circled the harbor, their crafts decorated with lights, trees, and holiday trimming of all sorts, competing for the “Best in Fleet” title. The awards ceremony was at “The World Is Mine Oyster” restaurant afterwards, where everyone was invited to belly-up to the bar, share some appetizers, and then adjourn to McSeagulls’ Restaurant for dinner.
This year Bob and I didn’t participate in everything … but I can report that the weather outside was frosty, light snow was falling, the real Santa was there in person, and the coast of Maine is a wonderful place to spend the holidays. Wish you were here!