Thanksgiving is a special time of the year that brings together all generations of family members, from near and far, to spend some quality time eating, laughing and sharing the updates of their life. Inevitably the conversation will turn to current events, and what’s happening locally. With so many politically-charged topics nationally, this week I wanted to equip you with some positive stories you can share.

Some of these stories you may know, some may be reminders of things to come, while still some are stories that may be brand new.

Here are six things filling me with positivity right now:

Midcoast Tree Festival shines in third year

There was uncertainty going into the Midcoast Tree Festival this year, on whether businesses would participate and would families attend after the event was forced to go online-only in 2020, but if the first weekend is any indication, you can count on this festival being around for years to come. Hundreds of people, mostly families, made their way to St. John’s Community Center in Brunswick last weekend and what they found did not disappoint them.

The Midcoast Tree Festival has 25 gift-loaded trees, and 10 wreaths to win, all for a $2.00 entry fee and raffle tickets at 50 cents apiece. This year, the festival has adapted to Covid by offering outdoor ticket sales for those that would prefer not to go in, have spread the trees out much more with a very simple path with a wide walkway and have increased cleanings thanks in part to the Boy Scouts. There is also live entertainment daily, free children’s crafts each day from 10 a.m. to noon and the MTF Café.

The biggest change, literally, is the emergence of Mega Tree, the giant tree on the stage that is comprised of gifts from every other tree space along with other gifts. The value of Mega Tree is over $3,000. In fact, Mega Tree is one of 10 trees that are at least twice the minimum value, meaning ten trees are $1,000 or more.

For those who want to see all of the trees, you can log onto www.MidcoastTreeFestival.com If you want to come see the festival and get your chances to win, we’re open this Friday and Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; we start drawing winners around 3 p.m. on Sunday. If you’d like to volunteer this weekend we have spots available- the link is on the website, and if you’re a musician who might want to perform we have three slots open between Friday and Saturday (e-mail me at [email protected]).

Big Saturday in the downtowns of Brunswick and Bath

The Brunswick Downtown Association and Main Street Bath are both holding holiday events this Saturday, Nov. 27. In Brunswick, they’ll have their annual tree lighting from 2-5 p.m. with Frosty and Santa arriving by fire truck at 2:30 p.m., performances by Una Voce Chamber Choir and the Brunswick High School Choir and the tree lighting at 5 p.m.

In Bath, they kick off their five-week “Old Fashioned Christmas in Bath” on Saturday at Library Park from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. where Santa and Mrs. Claus will be lighting the community tree donated by Jorgenson’s Landscaping. This launches weeks of events including caroling and trolley rides each Friday and Saturday night of December, Bright Night Bath on Dec. 10, The ATV Parade on Dec. 11, and the home decorating contest that happens all month with winners being announced Dec. 20.

Decorations in the downtowns, too

‘Less is more’ is an appropriate phrase for many things, but sometimes ‘more is more’ works best. That is the case with the downtown decorating in Bath and Brunswick. The classic light poles in downtown Bath have been decked with holiday arbors and bows, with more decorations popping up daily as individual homeowners jump into the home decorating contest.

In Brunswick, they have nearly doubled the downtown lighting this year thanks to generous business support and the results will be spectacular. Along with tree decorations, there will be LED uplighting and an ability to change the lighting as different winter holidays approach. Sometimes to get into the spirit it helps to see it all around, and two of our downtowns are going all out again this year.

Other events, updates and positive things to look forward to

Chamber Trail Walks: Chamber Coordinator Claire Papell is organizing trail walks on Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Trails once or twice per month throughout the winter. These small groups of 6-10 business leaders meet at the trailhead and go on a networking hike together, sharing stories and ideas as they walk. FMI check out MidcoastMaine.com or call Claire at (207) 725-8797.

Mark your calendars: Bath Winterfest Feb. 25-27: A brand-new multi-day event is coming to Bath this winter! We’re so excited to hear more about it and share the news with you, but for now just mark your calendars that there will be big things happening in the last weekend of February.

Chamber workforce projects begin: Regular readers have heard about the chamber launching new workforce programming and I’m thrilled to say the work has begun! So far we’ve had the initial meeting of the Workforce Advisory Council, a handpicked mix of business leaders, municipality representatives, educators and workforce development specialists to evaluate nearly two dozen potential programs for our chamber to create and run in 2022. We still have 1-3 meetings left to pare down the list of programs to around five finalists, which should be decided by mid-January and announced in the weeks to follow. These programs range for working with students on career pathways, to examining societal barriers to employment to much more. Obviously, I’ll let you know more later, but the important point is this: as a region, we’re taking bold action to try and help solve our biggest workforce needs, and that’s likely the most positive update any business person would want to hear this season.

Cory King is the executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber.

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