RUMFORD — About 100 spirited people of all ages participated in Friday night’s Christmas in the Valley Parade, which featured many floats in the Christmas in the Future theme.
Following the parade, which serves as an escort for Santa Claus, the jolly elf greeted more than 100 children and their parents in the Rumford fire station, where firefighters served cookies and hot chocolate.
Parade float participants and emergency responder vehicles from several River Valley towns began lining up prior to the 6:30 p.m. start in the Mountain Valley High School parking lot.
Glen Laliberty of the Hope Association stood beside its spaceship float, featuring several members who were dressed as aliens.
“This is the future spaceship for Santa Claus,” he said.
He was already looking forward to hot chocolate at the fire station, where children could give Santa their wish lists.
Next in line was the Greater Rumford Community Center float, which was a giant iPad.
“Our theme was to do technology in the future, so we made a huge iPad,” member Amanda Hamner of Mexico said. “The bigger the better, you know — that’s the future.”
While holding her son, Tucker, on her back, Hamner grabbed a lit hula hoop and twirled it with Jade Kubic, 12, of Mexico, who stood on the float in front of a Christmas tree.
A giant car resembling the DeLorean from the movie “Back to the Future” made up the bulk of the Andy Dupuis Towing and Salvage float, which also sported futuristic elves ahead of it, standing on hoverboards.
Isaac Dupuis of Mexico, who was dressed as the movie’s time-traveling inventor, Dr. Emmett Brown, sat in the driver’s seat, leaning out the car window. Also inside were Bristol Leahy and Brock Pelletier.
On Portland Street, the Rumford and Mexico fire departments’ and the Andover Fire Department’s trucks extended their ladders to form an arch. Underneath hung a 6-foot wreath, illuminated by many multicolored Christmas lights.
The parade would pass underneath the wreath, which hung 20 feet above the street, Rumford fire Chief Bob Chase said. Chase said they’ve been using Andover’s wreath for six or seven years, since the parade was restarted.
Families were already streaming into the downtown to watch the parade before it left the high school.
“This is probably the coldest one that I remember,” Chase said of the parade and 15-degree temperature. “It’s pretty cold. Fifteen degrees for the first week of December.”
Chase said the Rumford Firemen’s Relief Association helps organize the parade and the River Valley Chamber of Commerce assists in providing the gifts that Santa and his elf, portrayed by Rumford firefighter Ernie Peare, give to children in the fire station. Local 1601 Professional Firefighters from Rumford provided the hot cocoa and cookies.
At 6:45 p.m., several excited children yelled to their parents that they could see the parade across the Androscoggin River.
The parade traveled up Route 2 toward the rotary, where it turned and headed across the Memorial Bridge. Many firetrucks from throughout the River Valley followed police cruisers through the crowd of onlookers by about 7 p.m., followed by Med-Care Ambulance and Christmas floats.
By 7:11 p.m., Santa came through on his sleigh and headed down Congress Street to light the town Christmas tree before returning to the fire station to meet with children.