ROCKLAND — The annual Festival of Lights celebration in downtown Rockland is on schedule to kick off the holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving weekend, November 29 through December 1.
By the time Santa arrives via U.S. Coast Guard vessel Friday, Nov. 29, at 12 p.m., the Lobster Trap Christmas Tree will be up, and storefronts along Main Street will be decorated.
Upon his arrival at the Middle Pier, Santa will be escorted by his biggest fans to the corner of Park and Main Streets, where he will officially declare Downtown Rockland “Open for The Holidays” with a ribbon cutting. He’ll then retire to his workshop in Mildred Merrill Park, where he will greet children during the afternoon.
Santa’s Workshop is provided by Shed City, and sponsored by Hampton Inn. Candy canes will be provided by J. Edward Knight Insurance.
Free horse-drawn wagon rides will also be available.
The lighting of the Lobster Trap Christmas Tree, hyperbolically measured as the largest of its kind in the world, will occur on Friday evening. Santa will be assisted by the mayor and others in the flipping of the switch at 6 p.m. The lead sponsor for the lighting of the Lobster Trap Tree is Camden National Bank, with hot drinking chocolate provided by Bixby & Co.
Music for Santa’s arrival and for the tree lighting will be provided by the Midcoast Music Academy.
Saturday, Nov. 30, Santa will return to his workshop from noon to 3 p.m. Free horse-drawn wagon rides will be available, and downtown businesses will be open with special promotions for Small Business Saturday.
According to Gordon Page, executive director of Rockland Main Street, Inc., in a news release, shopping in a downtown district is far more appealing than any shopping mall.
“Main Streets in every town and city of all sizes offer unique advantages, and during the holidays and all year long, Downtown Rockland offers a vibrant community connection with city residents, friends from neighboring towns and merchants that are known by their first names,” said Page.
Saturday night features the annual Parade Of Lights, beginning at 6 p.m. Floats sponsored by participating businesses, neighborhoods and organizations will gather at the public landing beforehand. The parade will begin at the Public Landing, head north on Main Street, turn around in the ferry terminal parking lot, then return to Main Street heading south. The lead sponsor for the Festival of Lights parade is First National Bank.
Parade-goers are encouraged to “vote” for their favorite float with non-perishable food and new, unwrapped gifts that will be donated to the Salvation Army food pantry. Hot cocoa provided by nonprofit organizations will be available at strategic locations along Main Street.
On Sunday, Dec. 1, families will have an opportunity to have Breakfast With Santa, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at Eclipse Restaurant at 2 Park Drive. Breakfast is $2 for children and $5 for adults. The breakfast is sponsored by Bixby & Co., who will also be providing hot drinking chocolate, and co-sponsored by Rockland Café.
This year’s major sponsor for Festival of Lights is the Island Institute.
Rockland Main Street, Inc., is a downtown advocacy organization that focuses on historic preservation of, and economic development in the downtown district. Rockland Main Street, Inc., produces the Festival Of Lights weekend events and the annual Summer Solstice Celebration Street Party and Dock Party.