NORWAY — The annual Oxford Hills parade will welcome in the Christmas holiday season at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 24.
The 37th annual parade, which is thought to be the largest Christmas parade in the state, starts on Main Street in Norway by the Advertiser-Democrat Block and will proceed down Main Street to Market Square in Paris. The parade is expected to take about 90 minutes to complete.
“It's unbelievable,” Oxford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Williams said of the turnout of participants for the parade, which the chamber organizes.
Work on the parade began in August, when Williams sent out word that floats and marchers were being sought for the “Christmas Characters and Critters” theme parade.
Almost 50 floats have signed up, along with the prestigious Silver Dolphins rifle team, two 18-wheel trucks carrying Wreaths Across America, fire departments from across the state, 10 to 12 firetrucks, the grand marshal car carrying representatives of last year's Community Service Award winner Right Start and, of course, Santa.
Right Start organizes several community service programs, including Christmas for Kids and Christmas for Teens, which get presents to hundreds of local children.
Santa will be going directly from the parade route to the Four Seasons Function Hall, where the second annual Festival of Trees will be held from Nov. 23 through Nov. 25.
“We're extremely excited. This may be the largest parade we have ever had,” Williams said. “We've had tremendous support.”
In addition to the parade, other activities will be happening along the route.
On Saturday the Norway Historical Society is recreating the spirit of Fletcher’s Candy Store.
Fletcher’s Candy Store — known as the “Sweetest Spot in Norway” — was started in 1903 by John H. Fletcher on Main Street and was known for decades for its handmade candy, especially candy canes and ribbon candy at Christmastime and a variety of penny candy, said Anita Hamilton, president of the Norway Historical Society.
Fletcher learned the candy-making trade with the old-time Morton Candy Co. in Portland, where he lived before opening the Norway store in the old Hathaway Block on Main Street. The store was housed in three buildings over its lifetime, the final spot was at the corner of Danforth and Main streets, where his son operated the business in the 1950s.
Mellie Dunham, the famous fiddler from Norway, used to go to Fletcher's to buy licorice sticks or candy to fill his pockets and hand out to the children in his family, according to an interview with his granddaughter, Rose Barnes, who lived in the Sebago Lake area at the time the Lewiston Evening Journal interviewed her in 1984.
The Norway Historical Society will offer the same old-time candy store atmosphere on Saturday, with handmade peanut brittle, fudge, needhams, peanut butter cups, truffles, caramel popcorn and penny candy on sale at the Historical Society headquarters on Main Street in Norway beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.
All funds generated from the sale of the homemade candy will go to support the society. The society will also feature a display showing the history of Fletcher's. More information can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 743-7377.