Saco kicked off a five-week celebration of its 250th anniversary with the largest parade in city history Saturday.

The parade featured nearly 100 groups, including some people in period costumes or driving antique vehicles. The celebration continues through July 8 with a citywide ecumenical service, historic walking tours, an Old Home Street Fair and a preview of the Pilgrim’s Progress moving panorama.

Englishman Richard Vines and his company arrived in the area in 1616, spending a winter on the banks of the Saco River. Permanent settlers arrived by 1630, and settlements on both sides of the river were known as Saco. After 1718, the entire village was known as Biddeford. Pepperrellborough — the modern Saco — was founded on June 9, 1762, named in honor of the town’s benefactor, Sir William Pepperrell. The town changed its name back to Saco in 1805.