Camden, Lincolnville and Rockport are festive the first weekend of December, which is traditionally Christmas By the Sea weekend. This year's event, like so many holiday events in Maine, will be different, due to the ongoing pandemic and recent spike in positive cases statewide.
For the sake of public health, the Dec. 4 annual holiday parade, which usually kicks off the weekend event, is cancelled.
Due to the inevitability of drawing crowds, the organizing committee decided it is best to change course once again, drawing from the recommendations of Maine CDC Director, Dr. Nirav Shah, at his Nov. 17 media briefing, according to a Nov. 22 news release.
But the celebrations will continue, with modifications.
This year, Santa will be joining live via the internet from his home in the North Pole, where he is safely riding out the pandemic ahead of his important night of work on Christmas Eve. Everyone is encouraged to view the special 2020 tree lighting via livestream on Friday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m., on the Christmas By the Sea Facebook page.
Santa's elves in Camden have created a downtown storefront Treasure Hunt for families to enjoy on their own. “Finding the Twelve Days of Christmas" entry forms will be available for download starting Dec. 4 on the Christmas By the Sea Facebook page. Printed copies will also be available at the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center on the Camden Public Landing. The Treasure Hunt will run through Dec. 13, and prizes will be awarded.
While searching for the Treasure Hunt clues, wander throughout the downtown, which will be decorated for the season, while listening to holiday tunes inside shops and along sidewalks.
The Community Hat and Mitten Tree will be on display in the Camden Public Library windows throughout the event. Items for the tree may be dropped off at the library Monday-Saturday, 1-6 p.m. through Dec. 14. Donated hats, mittens, scarves and socks will be gifted to the SOS Room at the First Congregational Church of Camden.
In keeping with the virtual theme, the tradition of listening to Santa Claus read the holiday classic Twas the Night Before Christmas will happen via Zoom. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, snuggle up in your favorite chair at home and tune in Saturday, Dec. 5, at 1 p.m. Afterward, Santa and Ellen Elf will answer interesting questions they have been asked over the years.
Santa Claus has also set up his very own chat line, where parents can arrange some one-on-one conversation time for their children with the jolly man himself, and Ellen Elf. Visit chat-with-Santa.com for more information.
Thanks to generous sponsors, autographed photos of Santa Claus will be available in a variety of downtown Camden locations all week. Also, pick up a free canvas shopping tote bag at the Penobscot Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, Two Public Landing in Camden, while supplies last.
And building on Dr. Shah's recommendation that families stay home and celebrate the holidays in ways that avoid even modest group gatherings, the Christmas by the Sea committee is asking families to "go all out" and decorate their homes for the holidays.
"The idea to decorate our homes is to show that our communities refuse to give up on the holidays," said committee member Holly Anderson. "Let’s light up our neighborhoods with good cheer while demonstrating our collective resolve to stay safe.”
Valued sponsors and supporters of this year’s Christmas by the Sea include Camden National Bank, First National Bank, Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, Ardiah Managed Services, Camden Area Business Group, Camden Public Library and Town of Camden and Camden Parks and Recreation.