Downtown Waterville’s Santa Claus tradition began in 1969 when Waterville volunteers brought in a little unheated log cabin to Castonguay Square and lit up a young spruce tree. Thanks to Central Maine Railroad, Santa arrived in Waterville in fine style that year. In 1982, thanks to the efforts of the Waterville Intown Business Association, Santa’s old house was painted and converted into a small chapel and a new, larger home was built by the students from the vocational program at Waterville Senior High School. The years following brought a candy cane garden, gingerbread people, talking reindeer, an elf workshop and a Holiday Parade held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The Kringleville tradition moved into the 1990s with smiling children, but with an ever changing face of Downtown Waterville and the closing of major landmark businesses on Main Street. Despite the changes, nothing could keep Santa Claus away.
As Kringleville moved into the twenty-first century, a new house for Santa was built by the employees of Keyes Fiber. In 1999, the local group A Touch of Country (led by Gary and Cindy Michaud) took over the parade from the Intown Business Association and changed it to a Friday evening event so that more parents would be able to attend with their children. It was then called “A Touch Of Country’s Electric Christmas Parade” and concluded with the lighting of the giant spruce tree in Castonguay Square. In 2007, A Touch of Country turned over the organization of this popular tradition to Waterville Main Street, which renamed the event The Parade of Lights.
Holiday Magic continues in Downtown Waterville and it will continue for another forty years as long as there are children who believe. When asked how he felt about returning to Waterville each year, Santa said, “I have seen a multitude of children over the years. Today, many of those children are now Grandparents and Parents and it is with pride and excitement that Mrs. Claus and I return to Waterville to make happy the hearts of all the little children in Central Maine.”
The Children’s Discovery Museum is excited to have adopted this wonderful event. The museum has been a staple in the Central Maine community for many years and will be relocating to a larger space in Waterville in the coming years. While we anxiously wait to open the doors of our new location, we are excited to be hosting such a wonderful event for the community!