Camden will again be a festive place the first weekend in December 1-3, 2017. On Friday evening, the shops with be open late and the streets aglow, while horse and wagon rides (sponsored by Camden National Bank) take visitors around town to see the sights. As the sun sets, the streets will be lined with people, eagerly anticipating the festive lighted floats parading through town, with Santa Claus riding on the last float.

He told us himself that this is the 29th year that he has been THE Representative Senior Christmas Elf riding in THIS parade. And consider this: several of the children who whisper to him what they want for Christmas are the children of parents who also sat on his lap more than 20 years ago. To us and to them – Santa is the real thing (whiskers too)!

During Christmas By the Sea weekend, community events are held throughout Camden, Lincolnville and Rockport, starting Friday afternoon. Special performances at the Camden Public Library kick things off, and the Hat and Mitten Tree (sponsored by First National Bank) in the library awaits donations for those who need a bit of help staying warm this winter.

Camden’s holiday parade comes through town at 6 p.m., and Santa then presides over the Community Tree Lighting in Harbor Park (sponsored by O’hara Corporation). Following the tree lighting and carols, an open house at Camden National Bank draws hundreds of visitors for cookies and hot cocoa, as they mill around the sidewalks and stores.

When Saturday morning arrives, Santa Claus comes motoring into Rockport Harbor by boat. Santa’s arrival is followed by free photos (courtesy Mark Haskell) with Santa at Rockport Marine. The next stop for Santa is the Camden Public Landing, where he arrives on shore courtesy of Lyman Morse and the Barbie D tugboat. Santa’s arrivals by boat define this event that truly celebrates Christmas By the Sea.

Story Hour with Santa as well as more free photos are offered at the Library immediately following his arrival in Camden. Cookie decorating for kids will again be held at the YMCA starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, and is sponsored by Lincolnville Communications.

But it’s not all boats for Santa, as he makes his way up to Lincolnville Saturday afternoon, arriving at the Beach by fire engine at 4:30 p.m. The traditional bonfire on the beach will be lit at 3:15 p.m. with caroling at 4 p.m. and the tree lighting around 4:15 p.m. The event is followed by a sandwich supper and photos with Santa at Lincolnville’s School House Museum. Later in the evening, from 7 to 9 p.m., a Christmas Social takes place at the Lincolnville Community Center. Admission is free with a donation of a non-perishable item to benefit the local food pantry.

The full schedule of events can be found at camdenmaineexperience.com under the Events tab.

Organizations and churches bring even more events to this community-wide celebration during Christmas By the Sea weekend. Events include the Holly Berry Fair at the Rockport Opera House, a Beltie Holiday celebration at Aldemere Farm, a choral bell concert at the First Congregational Church, and Santa’s Story Hour at the Camden Public Library. The Nutcracker will be performed by the Atlantic Ballet Company at the Camden Opera House several times throughout the weekend, as well as a special dance adaption of The Lion King. The annual Walk Through Bethlehem takes place at the Chestnut Street Baptist Church, and Ann Dodson and Friends’ holiday concert at the Congregational Church finishes up this fun-filled weekend on Sunday evening.

Those wishing to participate in the Christmas By the Sea parade should register at camdenmaineexperience.com, where the parade application can be found. The meeting place for floats is at the Sierra Peaks Tibbetts parking lot on Virginia Avenue. 5:15 is assembly time, and the parade starts down Union Street at 6 p.m.

Valued sponsors of this year’s Christmas By the Sea so far include Camden National Bank, Lincolnville Communications Inc, O’Hara Corporation, First National Bank, Lord Camden Inn, Uncle Willy’s Candy Shoppe and The Red Barn Baking Co. The Town of Camden’s event partner is the Camden Public Library.