FARMINGTON — Hundreds of people of all ages formed a nearly mile-long gantlet on Saturday to watch the 37th annual Chester Greenwood Day Parade and welcome Santa to the downtown.

At 35 degrees Fahrenheit at 10:30 a.m., it was also one of the warmest days without snow on the ground in the history of the event, which honors the man who invented earmuffs, Clyde Ross said.

Ross portrays Chester Greenwood.

“It’s a beautiful day,” he said during the parade lineup in the Mallett School parking lot. “No snow, no snowplow leading the way as we’ve seen in the past. Excellent turnout. Kids all over the place wearing all kinds of earmuffs that you wouldn’t believe, very imaginative. It’s creativity day, and it’s fun.

“It is one of the warmer days,” he said. “There’s no question about that.”

Ross was standing with Elizabeth Greenwood Thomas of Boston, who portrays her great-great-grandmother Isabel Greenwood during the event.


“Isabel is part of the Greenwood family, and I’m not,” Ross said. “It’s nice to have that legacy.”

“I just think it’s an amazing day for everyone in our family and for the town,” Thomas said. “I just think it’s a fun opportunity for everyone to get together and celebrate somebody who in my opinion is a really wonderful individual and is very creative.”

Then a film crew from cable television show “Northwoods Law” whisked Thomas away to the horse-drawn wagon she’d ride in with Ross and other descendants for a quick interview.

Nearby, Bett Hardy of Farmington and Franklin Savings Bank was trying to get her 3-year-old son, Ben, to sit inside a handmade sled that would be pulled by their year-old Newfoundland dog “Franklin.”

Attracting lots of attention from photographers, the trio was part of a group of people who would be escorting the bank’s penguin float.

Behind them, about 40 or more children competing with barking dogs for attention in a cacophony of spirited conversation took their places on the Western Maine United Youth Soccer Team float. Five teams were represented, including U12, the team that won the state championship this year and U13, the state championship runners-up, a coach said.


He said two children on the team are Greenwood descendants. Several children shivered as a chilling breeze swept through the parking lot.

About 60 more children sporting gold stars stood behind the Mallett School banner, waiting to start marching with mascots Twinkle and Kelso.

“It never ceases to amaze me how many businesspeople and patrons, children and spectators come out for this event,” Ross said.

And then it was 11 a.m., and parade participants began heading out on their route.

Over on Main Street, people lining both sides of the road edged closer to the center for better viewing as drivers and passengers in cars caught behind them on streets and in business lots waited.

More than 40 floats decorated to match the event’s theme, “Maine’s Winter Activities,” slowly came by, eliciting many excited shouts of recognition. Some sported giant earmuffs.


Santa soon arrived, standing in an old Farmington firetruck and waving to the crowds.

“It was a really good parade,” spectator Patti Drake of Farmington said. She was sitting on Main Street with her grandson, Evan Drake, on her lap.

“We had a very good turnout,” Mike Blanchet, president of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, said, after assisting another man helping Drake to her feet. “We’re very pleased.”

“The crowd was great,” vendor Debbie Brinkman of Farmington and the Mount Blue Girls Basketball team said.

“I thought there was a ton of people in town. It was just really good for the downtown. I’m very happy to see so many people out here.”

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