Summer temperatures arrived just in time for the 26th annual Westbrook Together Days drawing large crowds to Riverbank Park last weekend.

Mayor Bruce Chuluda, the chairman of the Together Days organizing committee, said while he did not have an attendance estimate, he believed attendance this year surpassed all time highs.

“The weather was great,” he said. “I don’t think we could have asked for a better weekend. The crowds were fantastic and everyone seemed to have a good time.”

The festivities kicked off with the traditional chicken barbeque on Friday night and then continued Saturday morning with the Boy Scout’s annual pancake breakfast in Riverbank Park.

Things really got rolling with Saturday’s Together Days parade. Crowds lined Main Street from Bridge Street to Riverbank Park to see the parade, which was even longer than last year’s 25th anniversary parade.

“It was huge,” said parade organizer Kelley MacLennan, who estimated the length of the parade at one hour and 20 minutes. The police and fire departments led the parade, followed by the grand marshals, Westbrook’s first-graders, who represented the parade’s theme of “reading is fundamental.”

Many of the parade’s floats had themes related to books and reading, with costumed people representing some favorite characters from books. MacLennan said Trinity Lutheran Church took home the prize for the best float, with decorations depicting a farm scene.

Besides the colorful floats, the parade also featured marching bands from Westbrook’s schools, a parade of vintage tractors, the Westbrook Elite Cheerleaders, stunt bike riders and the Shriners driving a fleet of miniature racing cars. While the parade had something for everyone, the clear favorite from the kids in attendance was the candy that was tossed from the floats and by people marching in the parade. Kids scrambled to pick up the sweet treats. Some kids even brought their own buckets to collect candy to take home.

Over 65 groups participated in the parade, and MacLennan said the line to start the parade went all the way down Lincoln Street and snaked partway down Mayberry Road. Despite the length of the parade, MacLennan said she thought everybody involved in the parade enjoyed the experience.

“It went really well,” she said. “Everyone was in good spirits.”

Chuluda said anyone interested in reliving the parade would have the opportunity to do so in the coming week. He said the entire parade was videotaped and would be shown on cable channel 3 sometime this week and over the weekend.

Once the parade ended, the focus turned back to Riverbank Park where a wide variety of vendors and volunteer groups had set up booths. Crowds were heavy in the park all day, as people took advantage of the good weather to browse the offerings for sale and sample the food. “I couldn’t believe the number of people in the park,” MacLennan said.

Besides the food and vendor booths, there was music all day and people just stretched out under the sun listening to the sounds of Funkationland, the Don Campbell Band, local musician Al Hawkes and the Tony Boffa Band.

Chuluda said he was also impressed with the crowds in the park on Saturday. “We just had so many people down there taking part in this great event,” he said.

People also picked up some deals at the annual Together Days auction, held from noon to just after 3 p.m. in a tent on the park. Auction organizer Leona Glidden said this year’s auction was the biggest ever, raising $4,600 to help pay for Together Days.

“It went great,” Glidden said. “We had a great time.”

Chuluda praised Glidden for her work in securing the donated items for the auction and putting it together. “She is just an absolute ball of fire,” Chuluda said.

Glidden was quick to thank her special guest auctioneers, School Superintendent Stan Sawyer and Al Juniewicz for making the auction the success that it was. “They are great,” said Glidden. “They are just so funny, they had everybody laughing.”

Glidden also thanked the various local businesses and individuals who donated items to the auction. “We had a lot of good stuff this year,” she said. “It really went well, and I think everybody had a good time.”

After a successful afternoon, Together Days continued well into Saturday night, capped off by a fireworks display, sponsored by Calpine. “The fireworks were spectacular on Saturday night,” said Chuluda.

Looking back on Together Days, Chuluda said he felt the event really captured the community spirit. “All weekend, there were friends getting to see friends,” Chuluda said. “Everybody was down there having a good time. It’s getting bigger and better every year.”

While the event continues to grow, Chuluda said the organizing committee must make sure that the festival does not outgrow its roots of a community event. “I don’t want to see it lose that flavor of community involvement and participation,” he said.

With that in mind, Chuluda said the committee is already dreaming up ideas for the 27th annual Together Days to be held on next June 2 and 3.

This youngster, apparently tuckered out from all the activity on the float, found a comfortable place to get some rest during the parade on Saturday.WestbrookMembers of WestbrookThe Westbrook High School Band marches in the Together Days Parade. The parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday.Ladies from the Red Hat Society enjoy a tea party on the back of a truck during the Together Days parade Saturday.A stunt biker pops a wheelie during the Together Days parade on Saturday.Seven-year-old Kari Brown sits motionless as Alana Howe paints a cherry on her face at Together Days.


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