With the Festival of Lights parade canceled for a second year due to COVID-19, a group of Bangor-area residents have organized their own Christmas parade through downtown Bangor. Credit: Nick Sambides Jr. / BDN

A group of Bangor-area residents are planning their own downtown Bangor holiday parade, after hearing that the Rotary Club of Bangor canceled the annual Festival of Lights parade because of the pandemic.

The Greater Bangor Christmas Parade is set for 4 p.m., Dec. 11 in downtown Bangor, and will also feature light-up floats from community organizations and businesses. The route starts at the corner of Exchange and York streets, continues down Harlow Street and onto Central Street, and then along Main Street ending at Cedar Street. It’s free to register, and registrations must be received by Friday.

Matt Campbell, a Holden resident who is on the organizing committee, said that he and his friends decided to organize their own parade just a few weeks ago, after reading an article about the parade’s cancellation in the Bangor Daily News.

Campbell said he posed a question about the parade’s cancellation on social media.

“With other successful outdoor events like Waterfront Concerts, the Bangor State Fair and other parades, why couldn’t we put our own outdoor Christmas parade on?” he said.

The entire effort came together in just a few days, with Campbell and his fellow organizers announcing the parade on Nov. 7. They’ve been working with Bangor Parks and Recreation to organize the event, and have received sponsorship funds from Varney Agency, Hartt Transportation and Whitten’s 2-Way Service. Campbell said there are only a handful of parade spots left for those who want to participate.

Rotary Club of Bangor has organized the Festival of Lights parade for more than two decades. The parade each year features light-up floats and other electrical elements. The group canceled the parade last year and this year due to the pandemic. Parade organizer Roland Narofsky said organizers made the decision in September.

Rotary will again this year hold a Festival of Lights: On the Road event, in which Bangor-area businesses and homeowners are encouraged to decorate their homes and buildings with lights between Dec. 4 and Jan. 2, with community members voting on their favorites. The tree lighting ceremony is also still slated for Dec. 4 in West Market Square in downtown Bangor.

Campbell said that he’s been really impressed by the response by the community, but he and his fellow organizers’ main goal was to give families and particularly children like his 7-year-old daughter something to enjoy during the holiday season.

“Bottom line is that a long-time tradition, a tradition important to our community, where citizens of all ages can come together to welcome the Christmas season, is back on again this year,” he said.

To register for the parade, email bangorchristmasparade@gmail.com, or fill out the registration form on Google.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.