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The Special History of the Parade of Lights:
from the Original Waterville Blog "At Home in the Huddle" by P.S. Brown
If you lived in Waterville in 1988, you cannot have forgotten the first Parade of Lights! (And if you've come to the village since then, you should know the story of this celebration because it is something very special, here: it's a celebration not just of the season but a Celebration of Community - Our Community!)
It was earlier that year that both Rusty Manion and his wife Kitty passed away. Their daughters Darcey and Laurie, and three sons - Sandy, Jeffrey and Michael - were bereft with the loss of both parents and, at the same time, completely overwhelmed with the kindnesses shown them by everyone in the community. One day, Darcey was having coffee with her friends Linda Nichols and Patsy Hill and she said, "I wish there was something we could do to say 'Thank You!' to everyone!" "Thank You notes," she said, "seemed just too inadequate." It occurred to them that perhaps they could do something that hadn't been done in several years - a fun surprise for the village: they could arrange to have lights put on the Big Tree at the point of Monument Park and have it lit! And there would be a parade - fire engines and floats and children all carrying flashlights! - that would lead the way to the tree when the lights were finally to be turned on! And each of the girls told one or two people who told one or two more and in six weeks' time - in an unanticipated avalanche of generosity and cooperation, $5,000 was raised; the Clinton Fire Department's ladder truck came to string the lights, the power company donated equipment and time, the Municipality chipped in, fire companies in all the neighboring communities sent units to be in the parade and ........... well........ the rest is history.The floats became more imaginative and brighter. When it was deemed impossible to have the highschool band march and play (sometimes it's been so cold and stormy that just the thought of putting a flute or trumpet mouthpiece to one's lips caused pain!) the floats were actually wired for sound!