FREEPORT – This year’s version of Freeport’s Sparkle Weekend, which runs from Friday, Dec. 7 to Sunday, Dec. 9, will feature a lot of old favorites, including the Friday night parade of lights, music and appearances by everyone’s favorite, Santa Claus.

But there are a couple of new events on the Sparkle Weekend calendar this year.

For the first time, FreeportUSA, the merchants’ association that puts on Sparkle Weekend, is featuring a free holiday movie marathon on Saturday. Located at the Freeport Factory Stage on Depot Street, the all-day marathon includes such timeless holiday classics as: “The Polar Express” (noon), “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” (1:55 p.m.), “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (2:30 p.m.), “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (4:05 p.m.) and “Elf” (4:45 p.m.).

As with most of the Sparkle Weekend events, most of the movie marathon is family-friendly.

“Our goal is to increase shopping in the area by getting families here,” said Janet Dutson, the executive director of FreeportUSA, saying that parents can go shopping while the kids are enjoying the movies.

But the last movie on the list, “Bad Santa,” starting at 7:05 p.m., is an R-rated 2003 comedy, which stars Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac and Lauren Graham. It is about a con man who dresses as Santa (Thornton) to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. Due to its rating, that showing, which will also feature adult beverages for sale at the Factory Stage’s bar, will be restricted to ages 18 and up.

Dutson said the hope behind showing “Bad Santa” is to draw more young adults to the event and also to possibly make it an audience-participation event, similar to ones around the film “The Big Lebowski” in Portland.

“We thought it would be fun to do something that would be kind of what they do with the ‘Big Lebowski’ in Portland, where people kind of dress up and it’s a fun thing for older people.”

When asked what kind of costumes would be appropriate for the screening, Dutson said that one similar to Thornton’s Santa character, which she described as “a raggedy, old Santa suit,” would work well.

Anyone under 18 who is hoping to get in on the fun should be warned, IDs will be checked at the door, Dutson said. She hopes the R-rated movie would become a Sparkle Weekend tradition.

“I think it has the potential to grow over the years as people understand it, because it’s different than the rest of Sparkle Weekend, which is all very much family-oriented,” she said. “This is something we’re hoping to get (18-22 year-olds), that age group in.”

The Freeport Factory Stage is right across the street from Freeport’s Nordica Theater, a representative from the movie theater declined to comment for this story.

The other major new event on the Sparkle Weekend schedule is one that is safe for children of all ages. It’s a reading of the classic holiday book, “The Polar Express,” a story about a young boy’s Christmas train ride to the North Pole to visit Santa, and it will be on board an actual train.

Dutson said Amtrak is bringing the Downeaster train to town and parking it at the Freeport station to host the two readings, which will be on Saturday at 2 and 3 p.m.

“We are really strong partners with the Downeaster,” she said. “They’ve been great with us, and we just brainstormed some new ideas for this event, and that was one of them.”

The Downeaster will be in the holiday spirit for the event. “They’re going to decorate one coach for the holidays,” Dutson said. “And we’re going to give people mugs of hot cocoa and the conductor is going to read the book and we’re going to have people stationed throughout the coach also showing the book, so everyone gets a chance to see it.”

Dutson said that seating will be limited for the two readings, and she encouraged people to come down to the Depot Street station early, adding that Santa will be outside the train to visit with people waiting to board. “I think it’s going to be packed,” she said.

For more on the Sparkle Weekend events, visit

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