AUBURN — A forecast of late rain couldn’t dampen the celebration Saturday as participants opted to get a jump on the festivities and ring in the new year a little early.

The fourth annual New Year’s Auburn, billed by some as Maine’s “biggest and best New Year’s celebration,” had drawn hundreds by its 3 p.m. start time. By 8 p.m., nearly 3,000 people had come through the gates looking to celebrate as they flip the calendar page on 2022. With a stroke of luck, the fireworks went off just after 6:30 p.m. without a hitch and before things started to get wet.

The Festival Plaza was cordoned off to form a giant beer garden featuring local and Maine-centric breweries such as Lost Valley, Side By Each, Gritty’s, Craft Brew Underground, Mason’s and Nonesuch River. Food trucks included Pinky D’s Poutine Factory, Getting’ Sauced BBQ, Portland Pie Co. and An Angel’s Wing Inc. were on hand to feed the crowds.

Doreen Gummoe, left, and Christy King brought lawn chairs to the New Year’s Auburn celebration. Both women said they hope to take things a little easier in the new year. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Christy King and Doreen Gummoe came out to the celebration with lawn chairs and found a good spot not too far from the food, drinks and stage where the Jumpin’ Willys were shredding through their setlist. King, who said she works three jobs — at Da Vinci’s, Marco’s and full-time at home — noted 2022 didn’t allow much in the way of reflection. Gummoe said after a rough year losing her mother, she is just about on the same page as her friend.

“My resolution is to take more time for myself,” King said.

“And mine is to live in the moment,” said Gummoe.

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Couple Courtney and Shane Fleury swapped resolutions; Courtney said she wants to face challenges head-on, to stay positive throughout them and not to avoid them. Shane said he wants to go back to some of the hobbies he had — like skateboarding and snowboarding — before he became too busy with woodworking, which has become more a living nowadays than a hobby.

“Don’t give up on them because you’re old,” Courtney said.

“Exactly,” said Shane, “but that hurts a little more now.”

Hello Newman treated partygoers Saturday to cover songs from the 1990s and 2000s at the New Year’s Auburn celebration. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Just as band Hello Newman came onstage to crank out some 1990s and 2000s tunes, Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque told the Sun Journal he believes there is hope for Auburn in 2023. He said it was evident by all those who chose to come out, rain or not, to celebrate the new year at the plaza. With drinks, food, music, company and fireworks, how could anyone not, he said.

“You see, all these people here are excited about Auburn and that excitement is contagious throughout the entire state,” he said. “I said this back in 2019: ‘2020 is the decade of Auburn.’ It’s my resolution to make sure that happens.”

Vivian Mancini, 95, tells her friend Joanne Sabourin, right, how she had to walk home to get her ID when she got carded at the New Year’s Auburn celebration. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Vivian Mancini, 95, was waiting to meet her son at the plaza, but before she could get in, she had to turn around and go home.

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“I didn’t have my ID,” she laughed. “We’ve got some nice weather, though, and that’s something to be thankful for.”

Mancini, who said she believes there is hope to be found in the year ahead, wasn’t too far off. The forecasted rain started around 8 p.m. as a drizzle, but the Mallett Brothers Band had its audience captivated and lost few with the changing weather.

Dalton Lebpala was enjoying poutine as the drops started coming down. He contemplated what the year ahead should be like, but he was unsure if he should expect anything different from 2022 or drastic changes.

“You know, we have to try to make it better than what we had the year previous. It’s all we can do,” Lebpala said. “If you ask for any more it might be greedy.”


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