Exactly one year ago, Santa Claus received a warm welcome from the crowd at Festival Plaza in Auburn. He’ll return on Saturday down the street at Anniversary Park along with Mrs. Claus, “elves in blue,” and Mission Working Dogs to kick off the holiday season. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

AUBURN — The “Christmas in the Park” celebration will ring in Auburn’s holiday season at 4 p.m. Saturday in Anniversary Park off South Main Street in New Auburn.

The celebration, a joint effort between the city and United New Auburn Association, will feature special guests Mr. and Mrs. Claus and comfort dogs from Mission Working Dogs.

The Clauses will be escorted to the park by the Auburn Police Department’s “elves in blue,” where they will help connect the lights on the Anniversary Park Christmas Tree. The tree was planted in 2019 when the park was built to commemorate Auburn’s 150th anniversary.

“Our tree might seem small this year compared to years past, but, like the city of Auburn, with attention and love, it will continue to thrive and grow,” said Liz Allen, director of Communications and Community Engagement. “We hope that families will take photos with the tree for generations to come. Together, we will watch the tree, our families, and our community grow, and this charming tree will be a beautiful, living reminder well into our next 150 years.”

Festive activities will include live music by Mike Berube, games and prizes, local vendors in the city’s shopping sheds and free mittens, hot cocoa and sweet treats including doughnuts and cookies. Kids will also have the opportunity to write and send letters to Santa.

The second annual Christmas Shopping Village, Auburn’s take on a European Christmas market, will run 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and feature businesses Shuga Shak, MaineLee Handiwork, KB Pottery Co., B. Conant Photos and Chasing Dragonflies. The Shopping Village will have extended hours during the Christmas in the Park event.

The following weekend, Dec. 16 and 17, shopping at the village will return from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring the businesses Boujee Bee, James Dee Designs, Les Palpeuses, Savvy’s Sweet Scents and Four Pence Gallery. The city of Auburn will also be selling fresh wreaths during both weekends.

For more information, visit www.auburnchristmasvillage.com.

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