AUGUSTA – Put this one on the calendar: Maine’s Bicentennial Parade in Lewiston-Auburn will take place Saturday, Aug. 15, part of a busy weekend in the region that also includes a balloon festival in the Twin Cities and an air show in Brunswick.

“Hopefully that will give us enough time,” said state Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, chairman of the state’s Bicentennial Commission.

Originally slated for May 16, the parade was postponed for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Diamond said they couldn’t put people at risk by moving ahead with the May date.

By August, Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque said, people are going to be itching to get out and do things. The state will be coming off “a pivot point” in its history, the mayor said, and the event offers a chance “to put a spotlight on Maine” at a key moment that will offer “great exposure” to Lewiston and Auburn.

Auburn City Manager Peter Crichton said he thinks having the parade and festival together “is going to be an amazing thing to see.”

“Everybody’s going to have a lot of cabin fever,” Levesque said, and the parade and other attractions the same weekend should draw people to the area.

The Great Falls Balloon Festival is also slated to take place that weekend in the Twin Cities. It normally draws big crowds.

State officials rescheduled the parade for mid-August in part because the date coincides with the balloon festival and the nearby Great State of Maine Air Show in Brunswick.

Diamond said local officials suggested the date because the parade — billed as a way to celebrate “Maine’s veterans, youth, and culture, with floats, bands and more” — wouldn’t interfere with the busiest balloon festival hours in the early morning and later in the day.

“It should actually be an advantage” for the community, Diamond said.

Levesque said he anticipates “an economic boon for the area” from visitors and residents who will welcome the opportunity to watch the parade, the balloons and perhaps the air show at a time of year when the weather is typically great.

Crichton said he doesn’t anticipate any significant logistical hurdles for either Lewiston or Auburn.

“We’ll be fine,” he said. “We can handle it.”

Crichton said both cities are already working on how best to deal with such a busy weekend.

The parade’s postponement was only part of a shift away from the commission’s initial plans.

State officials planning the bicentennial also agreed this week on a new date for Statehood Day in August, which had been on tap last month until COVID-19 fears forced its cancellation. The new date is Sunday, Sept. 27.

Diamond said the visit by tall ships planned this summer along the Maine coast will likely be put off until the summer of 2021 to make sure it doesn’t run into any problems.

The commission has also told localities and organizations that got grants to put on bicentennial-related events not to worry if they must be delayed, Diamond said. Everybody understands the need for flexibility, he said.

Diamond also hailed the many volunteers who have worked hard on bicentennial events. They’ve rolled with the crisis well, he said, and kept moving everything forward despite the historic obstacles.

Levesque said everyone involved has shown Maine’s historic ability to overcome challenges, adapt to change and drive forward.

The parade in Lewiston-Auburn is modeled after the Maine State Parade, which took place in Lewiston and Auburn for many years before it came to an end in the early 2000s.


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