After a few years of modified plans, Villages of Light took to Damariscotta and Newcastle with its traditional slate of events on Saturday, Nov. 25.
Founded in 2017 by a group of volunteers, Villages of Light brought together separate Christmas-themed events hosted by separate entities, including a Santa Claus meet-and-greet hosted by Damariscotta Region Chamber of Commerce and Information Bureau at Lincoln Theater and the decoration of the Damariscotta-Newcastle bridge by a local Boy Scout troop.
The inaugural Villages of Light event in 2017 consisted of a decorating the Twin Villages with both small and large Christmas trees, a meet-and-greet with Santa Claus and free movie showing at Lincoln Theater, and the Parade of Lights, an evening parade through Newcastle and Damariscotta.
The following years boasted similar programs, until the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to pivot from the regular events. In 2020, the Villages of Light Committee hosted a drive-in showing at Renys warehouse on Route 1 in Newcastle and a “reverse parade” that consisted of displays set up in the parking lots of Lincoln Academy, Great Salt Bay Community School, and the Central Lincoln County YMCA.
While the Parade of Lights returned in 2021, Santa Claus waited until 2022 to return, this time to hear Christmas wishes at Lincoln Academy, as the theater was in the midst of gearing up for a live production.
This year’s event brought back all the bells and whistles, with two large trees and over 70 smaller ones, sponsored by local businesses, organizations, and lining the streets of the Twin Villages, Santa meeting children on stage at Lincoln Theater before a free showing of “The Christmas Chronicles” sponsored by Bred in the Bone, and a Parade of Lights that drew the most attendees in organizers’ memories.
“Seeing so many spectators at the parade, that was the highlight for me I think,” said John Roberts, a member of the founding committee and organizer of the parade. “I think it was the best turnout we had for viewers of the parade.”
While the committee hasn’t met to debrief after the event, Roberts said he is sure Villages of Light will continue to take place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving if there is a group of volunteers helping the event go on.
“I’m sure we’ll want to continue hosting the event as long as we have enough people to make it happen,” Roberts said. “We have a shrinking pool of people working to pull the event off.”
Next year’s event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2024. For more information about volunteering for Villages of Light, email Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org.