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Holiday Roundup

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The greater Bangor area has always had had many ways to celebrate the holidays, and this year is no different, with a wide range of events and activities planned for December.

One of the first is the Festival of Lights Parade hosted by the Rotary Club of Bangor. The parade will begin at 4:30 at the corner of State and Exchange Street. The parade with then turn left up Central Street and then right on Main Street. The parade will end in front of Davenport Park. This year's theme is 'Light up the Season,' so expect it to be a bright parade. Santa Claus will be a part of the festivities, as usual. Following the parade will be the traditional tree lighting in West Market Square.

Speaking of Santa Claus, good ol' Saint Nicholas will be very busy with a number of appearances in the area. He will be at the Bangor Mall most days from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. in the Sears Court through Christmas Eve. A full list of his schedule is available athttp://www.simon.com/mall/bangor-mall/news-and-events. Although his hours are fairly consistent, it may be worth taking a look at the schedule before visiting him because some days are a little different. Santa will also be at the Winterport Winery in Winterport to take pictures with kids. There will be cookies, decorating and Christmas movies. Bel Portraits is offering two free 4x5 prints. They do ask you to schedule photos ahead of time by calling 223-4400. You are also asked to bring either art/craft supplies or a monetary donation. These will all benefit a local grief support group called Pathfinders. Santa will also be at the Lee Pellon Center in Machais from 3 to 5 on Dec. 4.

There is also plenty to watch this Christmas. The Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers production of 'The Grinch Family Holiday Event' will be at The Grand in Ellsworth on Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. and Dec. 5 at 1 p.m. You can expect quirky characters and plenty of physical comedy in this unique twist on The Grinch. More information can be found atwww.grandonline.org/. In fact, The Grand is hosting a lot of holiday events, including Robinson Ballet's presentation of 'The Nutcracker' on Dec. 12 and 13, a screening of 'Miracle on 34thStreet' Dec. 15-18 and a live production of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' Dec. 18-20. This version of Charlie Brown is actually produced by The Grand and has a cast of local teens. It will include many of the classic songs from the iconic TV special, such as 'Christmas Time is Here.' These are just some of the events at The Grand. Check out the full list on their website. According to Robin Jones, Film Program director at The Grand, 'For better or worse we take celebrating the Holidays pretty seriously at the Grand. We come up with a bunch of different types of programs for families and older and younger audience members.'

Ellsworth hosts its annual Christmas parade on Saturday, Dec. 5. The parade will begin at 11 a.m., going down Main Street and up State Street. This year's theme is 'Santa's Workshop.' This of course means Santa himself will be part of the parade. You can keep an eye out for him on the last float. Ruth Foster, long-time Ellsworth resident and former city councilor and state legislator, is the grand marshal this year. Some of the other features will include floats from Ellsworth and Sumner high school, Anah Temple Shrine Funsters, troops of Boy and Girl Scouts and fire departments throughout the region. After the parade, Santa will be at his Ellsworth workshop at 112 Main Street from 12 to 3. He will also be there the same hours on Dec. 12 and 19.

The Bangor Opera House is celebrating Christmas 1940s style with 'It's a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play that Tells a Story Within a Story Within a World.' Nine actors will play more than 50 characters in this classic Christmas tale with a twist. "With lively music, Foley sounds and a bevy of colorful characters, this production tells the story we all know and love within the story of a 1940s celebrity-studded radio program, within the world of post-war America," explains Producing Artistic Director Bari Newport. The audience will feel like they have gone back to the '40s as soon as they walk in to the Opera House with era-appropriate concessions, radio ads and an interactive musical preshow. Even those familiar with the classic tale will enjoy this spin on it. More information, as well as ticket purchases, can be found athttp://www.penobscottheatre.org/.

Searsport is certainly not forgetting about Christmas. Searsport's Christmas Extravaganza kicks off Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m., when the tree is lit. From 4 to 6 on the same day the Penobscot Marine Museum Sea Captain's House will be open to the public. Each room will be decorated for a classic Victorian Christmas. The museum store will host six Maine authors, including Ardeana Hamlin and Douglas Coffin, and will feature the red velvet dress designed for Rosemary Clooney for the 1954 movie 'White Christmas' as well as nautical themed gingerbread displays.

On Dec. 5, the Captain's House will host live music from 10 a.m. to 4 pm... From 10 to noon will be Ralph Stanley and his group of fiddlers. From 2 to 3 will be a performance by Pen Bay Singers. Elsewhere in Searsport, the First Congregational Church will host open tours of the historical building as well as offer refreshments. Admission for the tours is free. These events don't even scratch the surface of what Searsport has on deck for the weekend. For a full list of events, visithttp://penobscotmarinemuseum.org.

Farmington is celebrating the holiday season in the way only Farmington can. The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce presents the 39th annual Chester Greenwood Day Parade. Farmington resident Chester Greenwood has the distinction of being the inventor of ear muffs. The theme of this year's parade is 'favorite characters,' so expect to see some recognizable characters from TV, movies and video games. The parade will begin at 11 a.m. at the Mallet School. The festivities will also include a gingerbread house competition and a chili competition. From 2 to 5 you can take part in horse-drawn carriage rides. If you are feeling brave, you can participate in the annual Polar Bear Dip on Clearwater Lake. It all wraps up at 5 p.m. with the Christmas tree lighting at 198 Front St. For a complete list of events and activities, visitwww.franklincountymaine.org/calendar/event/471.

Hinckley is holding the Good-Will Hinckley Festival of Trees from Dec. 6 to Dec. 12. There will be daily tree viewings from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the tree viewing will go until 7 p.m. on Dec. 9 and 11. There are several days of free live entertainment. The Triple C Dance Team and Kennebec Valley Chordsmen will be there on Sunday, Dec. 6. The Lawerence HS Show Choir will be there Dec. 9. Over the River Ringers will be there Dec. 11, and Uniquely Music will close things out on Dec. 12. All the events take place at 16 Prescott Drive. More information can be found atwww.gwh.orgor by calling 238-4280.

The Maine Indian Basketmaker's Holiday Market will be held Dec. 12. It will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Collins Center for the Arts. This event will feature basket weavers from multiple generations. The work will be varied, as this is the largest event of its type in New England. There will be a lot to see and learn. One of the major goals of this event isn't just to sell baskets but to educate people on their history and significance. Of course, you can buy them as well. I can think of few gifts as unique as a hand-woven basket, especially if you are going to be heading out of state for the holidays. There will also be a raffle to win a basket created by Jeremy and Ganessa Frey, who have baskets showcased in the Portland Museum of Art.

The Collins Center will also be home to a Yuletide Concert on Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. The concert will feature over 200 voices singing and playing classic holiday songs. Tickets are $12, but students get in for free.

Also at the Collins Center is Danu, A Christmas Gathering. Danu is one of the world's leading traditional Irish ensembles. Danu has traveled the world including the U.S., the U.K., India and Israel but Sunday, Dec. 13 they will be in Orono at 3 p.m. Danu is known for giving the feeling that you have been whisked away to Ireland, so if you'd like to experience an Irish Christmas, this is for you. A full list of the Collins Center events can be found at www.CollinsCenterForTheArts.com.

Wreaths Across America will begin their journey to take wreaths of fresh balsam fir from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery. A convoy of 12 transport trucks filled with wreaths will depart from Harrington Maine on Dec. 6. A group of VIPs including Gold Star Mothers, veterans, dignitaries and law enforcement escorts will accompany the convoy. The convoy will stop at schools, memorial sites and veterans' homes along the way. The theme this year is 'Cemeteries are for the living. Every stone tells a story.' Dec. 12 is Nation Wreaths Across America Day. Thousands of volunteers across the nation have been working hard to make sure there is a wreath for every headstone in Arlington and also at over 1,000 other locations both in America and overseas. At noon EST on Dec. 12, there will be a shared moment of silence by all those participating. It is a good time to reflect and honor those who won't ever be home for the holidays again and the families that will always have an empty seat at the table. For more information, you can visitwww.WreathsAcrossAmerica.com.

There are many ways to give this holiday season. One way is through the Maine Children's Home for Little Wanderers. The Maine Children's Home has been around since 1899. Their Christmas Program distributes boxes of both fun and useful items to over 1,700 children in need throughout the state. Each box typically contains mittens, gloves, a hat, a reading book, an activity book, crayons, a large and a small toy, a family game and a warm outfit. To find out more, visitwww.mainechildrenshome.orgor call 872-0261.

Another way to help this holiday season is with the Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine. For a minimum donation of $25, you can make a donation in someone's name. This person will also receive a holiday card imprinted with your name telling them that a donation has been made in his or her name. If you forgot to pick up a card for someone this is a great way to get one without leaving your computer, and helping people out at the same time.

Maine clearly knows how to celebrate the holidays. Wherever you are in the state, there is something going on near you for all ages. Take this season not to just be with your family and friends but also your community. Whether it is a parade, a tree lighting or a charity event, just be happy we are able to come together as a community and enjoy the warm glow of the holiday season.

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