KENNEBUNKPORT —Heather and Michael McKellar stood amid a light display in the heart of the Christmas Prelude festival in Kennebunkport on Sunday while she snapped photos of their son, Wyatt, 6, holding a plate-sized cookie.

The McKellars said they visited the Christmas Prelude a couple of years ago and loved it so much, they told themselves someday they would live in Kennebunkport.

“Now we are here,” said Heather McKellar.

The McKellars said living in the town during Christmas season is like dropping into a movie set where everyone is friendly and the police officers hand out treats.

“It is almost surreal. It’s like ‘The Truman Show,’ ” said Michael McKellar, referring to the 1998 movie starring Jim Carrey.

The McKellars were among a number of people pinching themselves at the annual festival, which started Thursday and runs for two weekends in Kennebunkport’s Dock Square and Cape Porpoise village and Kennebunk’s Lower Village.

Now in its 35th year, the event draws thousands of Christmas lovers to the downtowns, which are transformed into Santa’s villages.

Lobster pots dangle from the bows of a towering tree in Dock Square.

Vintage cars toting Christmas trees are strategically parked along Route 9. A Christmas tree rises from a rowboat moored out in the harbor.

The festival, organized by the Kennebunkport Business Association, depends on hundreds of volunteers from local churches, schools and civic organizations, which also use the event to raise funds.

On Sunday, Laura Prichard and her husband, Jean Clermont, of Arundel stood along the sidewalk selling Quebec-style pea soup for the Downeast Divas running team, which raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“We are doing great,” said Prichard.

She said by Sunday the group had raised $1,000 toward its $2,800 goal.

“This town is so generous,” her husband said.

Jeannine Gingras of Bow, New Hampshire; her sister, Jeannette Carignan of Hooksett, New Hampshire; Gingras’ daughter, Doreen Robinson of Boscawen, New Hampshire; and Gingras’ best friend, Jacky Murphy of Mineral, Virginia, arrived in Kennebunkport on Thursday for a 3½-day visit. Gingras said she has made an annual pilgrimage to Christmas Prelude for the past 30 years to shop, eat and get into the holiday spirit.

“We ate lobster, lobster and lobster and threw in a little fish, too,” said Murphy.

They said they also shopped a lot.

“Not much room left in the car,” said Robinson.

The festival continues through Dec. 11 with daily events, many of them free, including a pooch parade, several visits by Santa and fireworks.

“If you leave here without the Christmas spirit, you are like the Grinch: you are born with a heart three sizes too small,” said Prichard, with a nod to Dr. Seuss.

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