Two “Rudolphs” at the tree lighting ceremony in South Portland Rebecca Richard

South Portland’s annual celebration at Mill Creek Park continues community traditions

South Portland’s Mill Creek Park became a hub of holiday spirit this past Friday evening, hosting the city’s annual celebration. Attendees were treated to a display of lights and festivities, transforming the neighborhood and park into a winter wonderland. The event was organized by the South Portland Parks and Recreation Departmen and the South Portland and Cape Elizabeth Community Chamber. Attendees had the opportunity to donate non-perishable food items for the South Portland Food Cupboard, unwrapped gifts for the South Portland toy drive and winter clothing for the Children’s Closet at the Fist Congregational Church UCC.

New to this year’s celebration was a visit from two “Rudolphs.” Jenna Martyn-Fisher is the recreation coordinator for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. She said the event usually has horse-drawn carriages. This year, the event hosted a mini pony and a mini donkey, both dressed as Rudolph.

Live accordion music Rebecca Richard

Families and attendees had the opportunity to capture a memory with the Rudolph duo by posing for a picture with the animals. They also had the opportunity to meet Santa himself and sit on his lap for a picture and a chance to talk. There was food and refreshments for sale, including hot chocolate, cider, baked goods, popcorn and nachos. The proceeds from these sales will go towards supporting parent-teacher associations in South Portland.

The spirit of giving was also in full swing, with various groups accepting donations of toys for the city’s annual toy drive, warm winter clothing, and non-perishable food items. Attendees immersed themselves in the holiday melodies as high school and middle school choruses take the stage, as well as accordion accompaniment.

For the younger attendees, there was an opportunity to explore a city fire truck, and there were Christmas trees at the South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club’s annual tree sale at the park.


The event drew a large crowd, with Santa and the mini horses at Mill Creek Park attracting long lines of excited children and parents. The weather cooperated, as the rain stayed away during the event.

Scarborough’s Gingerbread Night was a sweet affair of creativity and community

Mary, age 11, with her brother pose with their creations Rebecca Richard

Also last Friday, Scarborough hosted its own festive event, Gingerbread House Night at the Scarborough Community Center. Gingerbread House Night attendees enjoyed the freedom of creativity, with no specific guidelines or rules for how to decorate the houses. Provided for creating the houses was a range of edible decorations, including extra icing, candies, cookies, pretzel sticks, and more, ensuring that each gingerbread house became a unique and delectable masterpiece.

There was holiday music and lots of decorations like a tall, inflated snowman and a rainbow-colored Christmas tree. The entire room was full, people spilled into the lobby where there were more tables and decorating stations set up. There was an array of snacks like pizza, veggies and dip, fruit, and apple cider.

Thanks to the sponsorship from State Farm Insurance Agent Michelle Raber, the cost of each gingerbread house was reduced to $5, fostering accessibility and community engagement. Families had the flexibility to choose from a variety of houses. Nicole Hall, Scarborough’s Operations and events manager said, “The event was super popular this year, beyond even our expectations. In the end there were 104 gingerbread houses made and well oer 175 people in attendance. We think that the reduced registration rate helped bring in more participants than usual, and this was thanks to the generous sponsorship from Michelle Raber State Farm, so we are really thankful for that support in making this event such a hit.”

The best part was seeing how creative people got with making their houses, Hall said, as there wasn’t none were exactly the same, even though the kits were pretty much identical. “Also hearing all of the thank yous from families as they were leaving was very rewarding. So many people commented on how they could never handle the level of decoration options we provided them, or mess that was involved, in their own homes, so they were very appreciative that we took care of the madness for them. At the end of the day, our goal is to bring members of the community together in fun and unique ways, and this definitely fits the mold,” Hall said. She said they will be sending out a survey to those who attended to get their opinions on what worked well and what they really enjoyed and what we could have done differently.

Gingerbread house night in Scarborough Rebecca Richard

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