Lynn Murphy, left, and friend Ellie Roy, right.

Lynn Murphy, left, and friend Ellie Roy, right.

KENNEBUNKPORT — Christmas came alive in Kennebunkport over the weekend, as the first weekend of the town’s 35th annual Christmas Prelude came to a successful close.

Hundreds massed in Dock Square on Saturday for a day of caroling and other holiday festivities, including craft fairs, games and to see the square’s Christmas tree aglow in all its glory.

The event drew many from out of state, who said they attend the Prelude yearly as part of their holiday family traditions.

“We’ve had such a special day; we’ve been doing lots of special things,” said Barbara Hatch, of Londonderry, New Hampshire, who attended the event with partner, Ray Bernard, and 3-year-old son Parker Hatch.

ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune. Marchers celebrate the holiday season by taking part in the 11th annual Hat Parade during Kennebunkport's 35th Christmas Prelude on Saturday.

ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune. Marchers celebrate the holiday season by taking part in the 11th annual Hat Parade during Kennebunkport’s 35th Christmas Prelude on Saturday.

“It’s a tradition for us,” she said, becoming visibly emotional. “I’m going to cry because it’s it’s so sentimental. It’s such a special time.”

The annual Christmas Prelude, hosted by the Kennebunkport Business Association, began in 1982 with a tree lighting, a concert, luncheon and Santa Claus’ arrival by lobster boat. Now, the celebration spans 11 days of festive fun and includes three tree lightings, 12 musical programs and a multitude of craft fairs.

ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune. Spectators, hundreds of them, watch as the Hat Parade moves through Kennebunkport's Dock Square during Christmas Prelude on Saturday.

ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune. Spectators, hundreds of them, watch as the Hat Parade moves through Kennebunkport’s Dock Square during Christmas Prelude on Saturday.

Saturday’s festivities hit their high point as lined the streets for the 11th annual Hat Parade, sponsored by retail store Best of Everything. Hundreds of participants marched down Dock Square and across the bridge, donning their finest holiday headwear.

Snowflakes, snowmen and gingerbread houses galore — all and more could be seen wandering their way through the town, waving to an eager crowd and tossing candy to kids.

ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune. The Christmas tree in Kennebunkport's Dock Square is pictured Saturday, as the sun begins to set on the horizon.

ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune. The Christmas tree in Kennebunkport’s Dock Square is pictured Saturday, as the sun begins to set on the horizon.

Ellie Roy, of North Reading, Massachusetts, wore a wreath on her head in the parade. She said she and her friends have traveled to Kennebunkport the last four years specifically for Prelude and the annual parade.

“It’s a girls’ weekend out for Christmas,” she said.

Roy’s friend, Lynn Murphy of Middleton, Massachusetts, said the gang comes every year to connect with the locals and celebrate the season. She said the group was inspired to return by another group of women — older than them — who would participate in the parade every year.

“The best thing about Prelude is that we have met these older women each year — older, like 20 years older than us — who have been doing this for 10 years, 15 years. It was an inspirational tradition,” Murphy said. “So now we’re following that.”

That group’s friendship and love of the festival, Roy said, is reason enough to come to Kennebunkport each year.

“They’re an inspiration,” she said.

And while Murphy said the group is always excited for the typical events — the tree lighting and of course the parade — she also said they look forward to their new traditions: celebrating the holiday season with newfound friends.

“The lighting of the tree was fabulous but that’s not our highlight, nor is the parade,” she said. 
“Our highlight is coming here, having a glass of wine, meeting very nice people, (seeing) the young children.”

“All that is part of the ambience of this place and that’s why we come is the whole Christmas experience,” she continued. “It’s about the tradition and coming together.”

Christmas Prelude events continue throughout the week and this weekend. A full schedule of events can be found online at christmasprelude.com

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected] 


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