CALAIS — While much of the western world is focused on the possible release of more hostages in the Middle East, this small corner of the world focused last week on the peace and friendship that exist between two neighboring nations.
The 18th annual International Festival was popular with residents and visitors, and the parade Saturday drew a respectable crowd despite unrelenting rain.
This year, the theme of the parade was “The Magic of Childhood,” and many of the floats in the mile-long parade featured variations on that theme. During the rain-drenched procession, spectators and youngsters on the floats brandished umbrellas to defy the rain.
The event began at 10 a.m. in the parking lot of Ames Department Store. Before the start of the parade, traffic into and out of Calais and St. Stephen was rerouted through the Milltown Bridge. The Ferry Point Bridge, where the parade crossed into St. Stephen, was cleared of traffic.
Because of the rain, many parade watchers arrived early and remained in their vehicles to view the event.
The parade was led by police vehicles from Calais and St. Stephen. They were followed by vehicles from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, the Baileyville Police Department, the Maine State Police, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The police vehicles were followed by cars carrying local officials and politicians. Among the public officials present were Rep. Tony Tammaro, D-Baileyville, St. Stephen Mayor Allen Gillmor and St. Andrews Mayor Bev Lawrence.
In addition to some colorfully decorated floats, the parade included the Calais High School marching band and a bagpipe contingency from New Brunswick. A contingent of horses and riders, and a horse-drawn wagon from the Georgia-Pacific’s Oriented Strand Board Plant in Woodland.
After about two hours, the firetrucks from St. Stephen and Calais, which each year signal the end of the parade, came into view, and residents along Main Street in St. Stephen knew the parade was about to end. The parade ended at the St. Stephen Middle School where marchers wiped their damp heads, put on rain jackets and cheered the end of another International Festival parade.