The Downtown Holiday Ride to see the lights and the storefronts begins at 6 p.m. in Biddeford on Friday, Dec. 4 and winds down in Saco. Courtesy image

BIDDEFORD — Billed as a “lights and sights” ride through the main streets of Biddeford and Saco on Friday, Dec. 4, the Downtown Holiday Ride from 6 to 8 p.m. is a chance for families to check out the lighting displays and store windows in the downtowns of both communities.

It is a new way for the two communities to celebrate the holidays in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We wanted to find a way to encourage the community to come downtown to see the beautiful store windows and new lighting displays,” said longtime Heart of Biddeford Design Committee member Eileen Foley.

So, the committee collaborated with downtown businesses, La Kermesse, the City of Biddeford, and volunteers from the University of New England,  to add several new lighting features to Biddeford’s downtown.

Then the Downtown Holiday Ride spiraled across the Saco River, where volunteers installed 17,000 new lights in downtown Saco over the weekend before Thanksgiving.

“From there, the Downtown Holiday Ride was born,” said Heart of Biddeford Executive Director Delilah Poupore. “We invited Santa and two real reindeer, and we’ve arranged a gift for every car. We think kids will enjoy a search for giant polar bears in store windows too. During COVID, we really want to find ways to have some togetherness in physically-distanced ways.”

“After the year we’ve all been through, a season of sparkling lights is what we all need,” said Saco Main Street Director Robert Biggs in a prepared statement. “We are very excited about folks coming down to cruise on our Main Street.”

Saco will also include a treat for every car that stops by a pop-up stage featuring performances by fairy tale characters.

During the event, cruisers are invited to “Share the Love” with community members in need, if able. At Santa’s drive-through in Biddeford, elves will be socially distanced and safely collecting non-perishable food items and winter clothing essentials for families in need. Cash donations collected on Dec. 4 and online will purchase food, clothing, and home heating relief, said Poupore.

The route begins at the intersection of Main Street and Elm streets in Biddeford. After a stop through “Santa’s Drive-Through” in the Biddeford  City Hall parking lot to receive a special gift, drivers will continue down Main Street toward Saco.

Of course, said Poupore, the trip goes “over the river and up York Hill” to Saco’s Main Street, for a stop near the post office, where each car will receive another treat.

If the evening feels a bit short, she said, families can just take the loop again by making a couple of left turns in Saco and start all over at the corner of Elm and Main in Biddeford, she said. Although people can drive the route more than once, Poupore said Santa has prepared for one gift bag per car.

Heart of Biddeford and Saco Main Street have extended their thanks to the event sponsors, Saco & Biddeford Savings and Biddeford Savings Bank.

More information is available on Heart of Biddeford’s and Saco Main Street’s Facebook pages or at HeartofBiddeford.org.

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