Bath promises holiday cheer with 'Old Fashioned Christmas'

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BATH — When Santa Claus comes to town next weekend, he will be sporting a spiffy new suit.

It’s one of a few new aspects – along with the many traditional ones – of Bath’s month-long “Old Fashioned Christmas.”

Storytelling and handmade ornament making starts at 11 a.m. in the Patten Free Library Children’s Room (33 Summer St.) Saturday, Nov. 26, with Santa arriving at 3 p.m. for a tree lighting at the library gazebo. Children can hang their ornaments on the tree before heading to City Hall, 55 Front St., for caroling, cookies, refreshments and, of course, a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

One change this year involves the city’s trolley Christmas caroling events, which take place every half hour from 5-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Dec. 2-17. In the past, people have queued in long lines at the trolley stop outside City Hall; this year they’ll be designated a seat at a given time through a ticketing system.

“It’s still free, but each night at 4:30, before the caroling starts, a ticket booth will appear right around City Hall and the Bank of America area, where the trolley picks up,” Main Street Bath Director Jake Korb said in an interview Nov. 18.

People will receive tickets for their preferred time slot, until tickets for that slot run out.

“The line was very long last year,” Korb said. “You couldn’t step out of line to use the restroom, or go get coffee or hot chocolate. … So we’re trying to make it so folks can have the ability to walk around downtown and still know they have their spot on the trolley.”

Carolers are asked to bring a blanket and hot beverage for the ride.

The “Downtown Bath Open House,” which runs from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, showcases illuminated streets, holiday music, refreshments and unique gifts as merchants and restaurants stay open late. People can vote for their favorite window display in the city’s downtown decorating contest.

Starting Monday, Nov. 28, Santa bags will be located in the lobbies of City Hall, Bath Savings Institution (105 Front St.), First Federal Bank (Congress Avenue and Front Street locations), Brackett’s Market (185 Front St.) and Now You’re Cooking (49 Front St.). People are asked to fill those bags with non-perishable food items for families in need. The donations will be distributed in time for the holidays.

Most-needed items include boxed stuffing, canned sweet potatoes, instant potatoes, canned vegetables, turkey gravy, boxed macaroni and cheese, spaghetti sauce, canned meats like chicken and tuna, peanut butter, and canned pasta.

Bath this year has new red letter boxes at various downtown locations, into which letters to Santa or local seniors can be placed.

The 14th annual ringing of the 1802 Paul Revere bell that hangs over City Hall wraps things up Dec. 31. The noon event will feature music, party hats, noise makers and refreshments as the city bids farewell to 2016 and welcomes the new year.

Log onto visitbath.com/events/an-old-fashioned-christmas-in-bath for Main Street Bath’s full schedule of events.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.