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This past September, the Bangor Rotary Club announced that it would be canceling the Festival of Lights Parade, again this year, opting for the Festival Of Lights Tour where people drive from display to display and vote for their favorite.
When Matt Campbell, who lives in Holden but grew up in Bangor, learned that there wouldn't be a parade, again, he was disappointed.
"Myself, like many others I'm sure, I was super bummed out. I kind of, as a knee-jerk reaction, I kind of said on social media, 'Hey, let's just do this ourselves.'"
So he took matters into his own hands, reaching out to officials at Bangor City Hall to see if he could organize his own Christmas parade.
And thus the idea for the Greater Bangor Christmas Parade 2021 started to take shape.
"I guess the genesis of this is, you know, when I was a child, the Bangor Christmas Parade was a big deal. And I have a lot of great, warm memories around Christmastime from that parade and, if I'm being honest, it's those events that establish roots in our lives early, and to not have it for the second year in a row, where we're doing other events... a lot of us don't agree."
Campbell says he doesn't second guess the decision the Rotary Club made at all. In fact, he says he thinks the Rotary made the best decision they could, given the timing of when they had to make the decision. But Campbell says where the Waterfront Concerts were able to take place, and other parades have taken place, along with the current Federal and state guidelines, there's absolutely no reason why a parade can't be held outdoors.
The Greater Bangor Area Christmas Parade is tentatively scheduled to take place Saturday, December 11 at 4 PM.
Campbell says after he put the idea out on Facebook, a committee of volunteers was put together to plan the event.
The first step was to get some direction from the City of Bangor. After speaking with a few different departments, he was directed to the folks over at Bangor Parks and Recreation.
"When I walked through the door they were great, very welcoming, very enthusiastic, and eager to help."
The next step, Campbell says, was to secure insurance for the event.
"I contacted Mike Varney at Varney Agency and he couldn't wait to jump at the opportunity. He said "Bangor needs a parade. We're happy to help.'"
As word of the effort to put the Christmas Parade made its way through the community, other folks started to step up to help out.
"Hartt Transportation was another company that jumped right up and said 'Whatever you need. We've got tons of flatbeds, if you need help organizing, fundraising, rallying, we're there for you!'"
Campbell says the committee is in the process of finalizing the details for the permitting process and expects that will come together soon. But he's confident enough to start taking applications this week, for those interested in participating this year.
"Folks are already lining up to register and become entrants to the parade...We are capping it at 100 entrants. So we'll see how close to that number we get."
Folks interested in taking part in this year's parade are being asked to register before the December 3rd deadline.
"Do you want to register your group or float for the parade? Be sure to email us and we will make a spot just for your group! To get more information please email [email protected]"
Campbell says organizers are looking to keep the original route; Exchange St. area going down Harlow St. coming around Central St. and then up Main St.
When asked what the plans are for the future and if he'll shoulder this undertaking again next year, Campbell says "You know, I'm just trying to get through this year, to be quite honest with you."
Campbell says they are trying to do this on a very low budget. They aren't asking for fundraising sponsorships or anything like that.
"If we can pull it off, then great. I think we really just want it to be about our community and having a parade that's festive for Christmastime."
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