PARIS — The Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas Parade on Saturday provided more than enough warmth to melt the tiniest Grinch heart.

And there was a Grinch in the parade, riding in the passenger seat of Norway Fire Department’s Engine No. 4.

Despite below-freezing temperatures during the 90-minute event, several hundred people lined the parade route. They stood or sat along both sides of the road from Main Street in Norway where it began at 11 a.m., to Moore Park in South Paris where it ended.

The event is Maine’s largest Christmas parade.

Some, like Sarah Stratton of Poland, had never been to it. She and Amberlee Bailey of West Paris waited with their small children across the street from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. They arrived 10 minutes before the parade began more than a mile away.

“It’s warmed up, especially in the sun,” Bailey said. “Normally, I don’t brave the cold temperatures.”


Bailey, who had watched the parade before, said her favorite parts were “seeing the different floats and seeing how creative people have gotten.”

More than 25 registered floats were decorated for the “North Pole Christmas” theme.

Stratton said her favorite parade part was “watching the kids’ faces as they see all the things go by and seeing their reactions.”

Theresa Mack of West Paris brought the whole family an hour early to see what she’s enjoyed for years. They sat in chairs along the road beside the Family Dollar store sign.

“We come every year,” she said. “I love just watching it. I get a kick out of watching the kids’ expressions.”

Her granddaughter, Skyler Mack, 4, resembled a movie star, wearing snazzy sunglasses and pink winter gear from head to toe. She also wore a pink blanket over her legs.


“It’s nicer today than it was last year,” Theresa Mack said. “There was a terrible wind last year. It was very cold.”

Lexi Brown, 10, of Naples, who wore a Dalmatian hat, said she “likes seeing when people bring their horses.”

“I bet you like the candy, too,” Casey Mack said.

“Daddy!” Skyler scolded him.

Casey Mack said he enjoyed watching children viewing the parade.

“As long as they have a good time, that’s all that matters,” he said.


“I like Santa and horses, ‘cuz I have horsies on my hat,” Skyler said.

“I like the floats and stuff and we’re waiting to see our neighbors, Holly and Jerry (of Stargazer Farm in West Paris),” Hunter Roast, 12, said. “They have a wagon and horses.”

Her mom, Chandra Roast, said she’d been attending the parade for many years.

“We usually come most years, unless we’re hunting,” she said. “I like it all. I love the holiday spirit. Everybody’s happy.”

Just up the street, Raven Harrod of Versailles, Ky., shivered in her light jacket. She was used to Kentucky winter weather in the 40s. Harrod was part of a group of eight people that Dennis Damon brought to Maine for Thanksgiving.

“My least favorite thing here is the cold,” Harrod said.


At 11:32 a.m., flashing blue lights on Norway and Paris police cruisers could be seen in the distance in Norway. They were accompanied by the distant rat-a-tat-tat of a lone drummer with the Silver Dolphins, a precision rifle team from the U.S. Naval Submarine School in Groton, Conn.

Children began to get anxious.

“Is Santa coming, Mommy?” one bundled-up child asked.

The parade arrived at 11:40 a.m. Two large Wreaths Across America tractor-trailers were followed by firetrucks from 12 Oxford Hills departments, all loudly sounding their sirens and blaring horns. The pungent odor of spent diesel fuel wrinkled the noses of many children while their mittened hands covered their ears.

Then a big, red L.L. Bean boot truck rolled by, followed by spirited Maine Roller Derby team members, zipping forward and backward along Main Street on their skates.

At 12:30 p.m., the air was suddenly rent with a mighty shout from many small children.


“Santa!” they yelled excitedly, several jumping up and down and pointing. “Mom! Dad! Look! It’s Santa!”

While Mrs. Claus sat beside him in a black sleigh and waved, Santa crooned Christmas carols and songs into a microphone and greeted children and adults.

Once the Claus couple passed, the crowds quickly scattered for their vehicles and warmth, except Evelyn Miller, 9, her twin sister Ari, Madysan Miller, 11, and Kira Gelina, 11, of Poland. They danced exuberantly to “Jingle Bell Rock” while Santa sang the words.

The Millers’ mom, Tiffany Witherell, said the children came out to see their grandfather, who was the mail-room clerk on Paris’ “Santa’s Mail Room” float. Getting candy tossed or handed to them was an unexpected bonus, Witherell said.

“It was fun,” Evelyn said.

“We were waiting a long time,” Ari Miller said. “There was a lot of firetrucks.”

Then, as she walked away with her still-dancing siblings, Ari repeatedly shouted, “Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!”

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