AUBURN — With plenty of holiday cheer Saturday, bundled-up residents celebrated a “Christmas in the Park” at Anniversary Park off South Main Street in New Auburn.

The event, sponsored by the city and the United New Auburn Association, hoped to draw more than 500 people to the annual gathering, according to City Council member Leroy Walker, who helped organize it.

It marked the first time holding the event at the New Auburn park that now houses the “Bells of St. Louis Church,” moved from their old home to a bell tower that is Maine’s second highest monument.

Walker said city leaders “felt this would be a nice place to try” for the celebration that has drawn big crowds to Festival Plaza and Main Street in years past.

The New Auburn site has the advantage of being safer for everyone, because of its distance from traffic, and it also helps prevent congestion on nearby streets. Plus, Walker said, it’s nice to see people coming to the park, which has been open for several years but isn’t yet known to many in the city.

As families and children poured into the park before a planned visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as the lighting of a still-small but living Christmas tree, the mood seemed reasonably cheery for a damp, chilly day.


Fortunately, there was plenty of free hot chocolate and candy, donated mittens for cold hands and lots of toys provided by the Dollar General on Minot Avenue and its customers, thanks to the efforts of Manager Sue Torres.

Auburn had planned for a Dec. 1 celebration, but it got rained out. The second time around, organizers managed to beat another storm expected to bring high winds and plenty of rain starting Sunday morning.

Walker said this year’s event came together well, but he’s sure they’ll learn a bit to make improvements for next year.

“We expect this to grow a lot more,” he said.

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