PARIS — Maine’s largest Christmas parade from Norway through Paris brought hundreds of people of all ages to line Main Street for more than two hours Saturday.

They braved temperatures in the low to mid 20s under a mostly clear sky.

Many floats cleverly depicted “The Night Before Christmas” theme during the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas Parade. The floats were accompanied by horse riders, twirlers, dancers, firetrucks from several towns, a group walking dogs, antique cars and school marching bands, among other attractions. The parade served as an escort for Santa and Mrs. Claus, who rode in a sleigh at the rear.

One group of adults and children dressed as reindeer pulled a float by tote ropes on either side of local fitness trainer Jesse Wall, outfitted as Rudolph and wearing a body harness.

The ropes were connected to a white 2005 Jeep Wrangler towing the TruStrength Athletics and The Big Top fitness gym float while adults and youths dressed as Santa’s elves did fitness routines with oversized barbells and weights. It garnered many laughs from the crowd and won first place in the Small Business category.

Although the parade began at 11 a.m. in Norway, many families and adults had already gathered in small groups along both sides of the street near the Market Square Restaurant in Paris. They had a 90-minute wait for the parade to arrive.


Tony Gelinas of Oxford brought his two boys, Joel, 8, and Sam, 6. They came to watch the parade, in which Tony’s daughter, Lily Gelinas, was performing cartwheels with the Gymnastics Plus troupe.

“The girl who does the most cartwheels in the parade gets her name on a plaque,” Tony Gelinas said.

Although they were bundled up in jackets and hats, expecting bone-chilling cold and wind like last year, there was only a slight breeze.

“It’s a lot warmer than I thought it was going to be,” Tony Gelinas said.

Across the street, several children played in a foot of snow at the Paris library while waiting for the parade. A few children made snowmen, snow angels and a snow fort.

“My favorite part is the music and, of course, Mr. and Mrs. Claus,” Diane Waltanen of West Paris said. She and Stephanie Walker of Mechanic Falls had the front steps of the Deering Memorial United Methodist Church all to themselves.


Walker said she enjoys “seeing what people do with the theme.”

U.S. Navy veteran Maurice Morrissette of South Paris said he enjoyed watching the Silver Dolphins, a precision rifle team from the U.S. Naval Submarine School in Groton, Conn.

“It’s hard to have any favorite part,” Morrissette said. “The whole thing is pretty good. In years past, they had some damn good ones.”

Danielle Brooks, 13, of South Paris, said she enjoyed seeing Santa in his sleigh. Sherry Coombs, also of South Paris, said she liked the whole parade. “I’ve been coming here since I was 2½ and now I’m 41,” Coombs said.

Down by the Met Life business where her husband Brian Hamlin works, Erin Hamlin of South Paris said she enjoyed hanging out with family at the parade. They brought their two daughters and a nephew and his mother from Portland.

“Getting the kids here and having a good time,” Brian said of why he liked the parade. “They haven’t seen Santa yet.”


Pat Paar, activities supervisor for the Maine Veterans’ Home in South Paris, brought eight veterans in a bus that was parked sideways in the Chandler Funeral Home parking lot entrance so veterans inside the bus could view the parade.

“We normally come every year but didn’t last year because finding a place to park the bus is a problem,” Paar said. On Saturday, however, she said Paris Police and Dana Chandler blocked the driveway and lot off with traffic cones.

Outside the bus sitting in a wheelchair, double-amputee Arthur Westgate, a Korean War veteran with the Army, waited for the parade.

By 12:17 p.m. a Norway police cruiser was spotted in the distance as firetruck sirens wailed louder.

“Here it comes! Here it comes!” several children yelled mostly in unison before taking their chairs on the sidewalk.

And then the parade arrived. The Silver Dolphins performed rifle and marching drills to the rat-a-tat-tat beat of a lone drummer; children in the gymnastics troupe cartwheeled down the street, telling a lady with a clipboard what number it was before readying to do more; and a group of twirlers marched and danced while performing behind a Medieval Knights banner.


And The Grinch, dressed as Santa, rode in one really big sleigh packed with presents on the Norway Savings Bank float that took first place in the Large Business category.

Attracting just as much laughter and shouts of glee for nailing the cuteness factor was a giant mouse lying on a spoon of sugar inside a large saucer rotating on a plate. That Stephens Memorial Hospital float won first place in the nonprofit category.

Just after 1 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived in their sleigh followed by a very long line of backed-up traffic.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.