2016-12-05 / Front Page

An evening of Christmas magic in Biddeford

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Biddeford's Downtown Holiday Festival a success
By ALAN BENNETT
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — Scores turned out for an evening of caroling, hot cocoa and visits with Santa Claus on Friday during Biddeford’s Downtown Holiday Festival.

Hundreds of children and their parents braved the cold as they gathered in City Square to watch performances by the Academy of Dance, make s’mores and watch the city’s tree illuminated by Mayor Alan Casavant and Santa Claus, himself.

“I feel wonderful having everybody come together like this. This couldn’t have happened without support from the city and La Kermesse and these dance troupes and of course Santa coming to town, too,” said Delilah Poupore, executive director of Heart of Biddeford, the downtown revitalization organization which is the event’s sponsor. “There’s a lot of diversity in our crowd — diversity in age, people you see downtown all the time and new people — so I think events like this draw us all to one place and remind us we’re all in this together.” 

Togetherness was the theme of the night, as city officials and residents blended into one crowd. The square, on Adams Street outside City Hall, was shut down for the festivities, which included free photos with Santa Claus and fundraisers by La Kermesse and Steppin’ Out Dance Centre.

Along Main Street, attendees could partake in free horse-drawn carriage rides and take advantage of the several pop-up shops located in city businesses. On Friday, the “Holiday Lights and Sights” light installations were also unveiled on Main Street during a citywide scavenger hunt.

The festival hit its crescendo around 6 p.m., as Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived by horse-drawn carriage to widespread applause. Following a couple more performances by the Academy of Dance — which included a children’s version of "The Nutcracker” and a rousing number to the soundtrack of Disney’s “Frozen” — Casavant and Santa took to the stage to thank residents for coming out before lighting the city’s Christmas tree.

There were cheers from the crowd as the square lit up with color, the tree’s bulbs reflecting in the windows of City Hall.

For parents, the event was a chance to bond with their children and come together as a community. 

“It’s just a fun event. It’s always fun every year and this is just a perfect evening,” said Jessica Robichaud, who was there toasting marshmallows with her daughter. “It really brings us together, and people might think that Biddeford’s not the greatest place, but it has a lot of great things going for it, a lot of positives people don’t realize.”

Rep. Martin Grohman, D-Biddeford, agreed, saying it was, “Great to see people of all ages coming together in a festive atmosphere.”

“With Cow Bell, Edge Bar and Portland Pie, night life on Main Street in Biddeford is really happening,” Grohman said.

“Merry Christmas to all!” he added.

Other residents spoke about the positive happenings in Biddeford as they lined up to take photos with Santa, the line stretching across Adams Street into the City Hall parking lot.

Casavant said following the event that he was pleased to see a large turnout of people all come together for the spirit of the holiday season.

“A sense of community enriches a city. Events like the lighting of the Christmas tree bring people together in a common bond, and that is so important,” Casavant said. “Seeing all of the smiling faces of the children when Mr. and Mrs. Claus appeared is always magical, and it is that magic that unites us as a people.”

 — Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329, or abennett@journaltribune.com. 

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