2017-11-30 / Editorial

Communities offer opportunities to spread cheer

Beyond the Headlines
by Sen. Justin Chenette

The holidays are a natural time for our community to come together. Each year scores of volunteers band together to organize some of the best family centered events for all ages.

The annual Festival of Trees at Saco Museum has a been a staple of the holiday season for 13 years running. It’s a tradition that I hope is around for many years to come. This year’s “Winter Celebrations” themed event is a fundraiser to benefit the important programs at Dyer Library and Saco Museum. Both of which are great community assets and enhance our cultural and informational awareness. They connect us to the wider world.

Each year I decorate a tree for the festival as a way of giving back. The last few years I’ve had a reoccurring theme, to highlight the importance of others who step up to serve their community, state and country. It started with a red, white and blue tree, adorned with photos of my own family members who serve in the Armed Forces. Last year, I recognized the Saco Police Department for the important and often very dangerous work it does each day to serve and protect. I incorporated photos of the officers and specialty police and blue ornaments.

This year I wanted to continue the theme. My entry this year into the Saco Museum’s annual Festival of Trees is entitled “Unsung Heroes.” My tree honors the brave men and women running toward danger to protect us and our families each and every day at the Saco Fire Department. The tree features firefighter ornaments and photos of the Saco Fire Department in action. It may seem like their heroic efforts go unnoticed, but our community cares deeply about our devoted public safety officials like our local firefighters and EMTs. They are rock stars in my book. Shout out to Chief John Duross for his help getting photos together to feature on the tree. Surprisingly, it’s hard to find firefighter related ornaments, but after some digging, I found the perfect ones to showcase the importance of their job.

There are many other wonderful trees this year from various community and student groups. Admission to the festival is free and is open noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. It is also open noon to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The festival runs until Dec. 30.

Other events that will be sure to delight the entire family include Saco’s annual Holiday Festival put on by our Saco Main Street organization. On Saturday, Dec. 2 there will be a number of events throughout the day, culminating in the awe-inspiring Parade of Lights. Santa arrives at the Saco Amtrak Station at 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. for children’s crafts, S’mores, Christmas music and photos with the big guy. Hot chocolate, a pixie treasure hunt, live nativity scene and horse and wagon rides await you at Saco City Hall from 1 to 4 p.m. The city tree lighting will be from 3:30 to 4:30, p.m. Bring your singing voice as we all join in a circle of caroling our favorite Christmas classics. Grab some grub at the Toys for Tots Bean Supper at Most Holy Trinity Church from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Dozens of lighted floats and groups will march down historic Main Street starting at 6:30 p.m. Be on the lookout, I’ll be in the parade.

Over in Old Orchard Beach, the annual Celebration by the Sea by the chamber of commerce will be held 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 at The Pier. The event includes refreshments, a visit and pictures with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, face painting, and a marvelous tree lighting.

This is just to name a few. There are many more fun seasonal activities and events to be on the look out for. Hope to see you there.

Justin Chenette is serving his first term as the youngest senator in the Maine Senate representing Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington and Buxton. He previously served two terms in the Maine House of Representatives. Outside the Legislature, he is the owner of Chenette Media LLC, a marketing & public relations firm, works as the marketing coordinator of Saco Sport & Fitness, and is the president/ CEO of the Saco Bay Center of Civic Engagement, a 501c3 nonprofit service organization. Sign up for legislative updates at www.justinchenette.com or www.Facebook.com/ JustinChenette.

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