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Chester Greenfield Day Celebration

December 03, 2012 - Farmington Fifteen degrees and snowing lightly was a bit nippy on Saturday for Farmington's 35th Chester Greenwood Day Celebration.

But hundreds of people, including Judy Sanborn of Rumford, didn't seem to mind.

Sanborn, who wore black neck muffs for the occasion, said she usually attends the Christmas in the Valley celebration and parade in Rumford on the same day. But the former University of Maine at Farmington student of long ago decided to check out the Chester Greenwood Day parade for the first time.

"Last year, I had to park way over on the hill and that was after the parade was over," she said. "Today, I came down early to get a good place to park and get some shopping in."

Sanborn said she stopped into the Wicked Gelato restaurant early, because she loves the soup served there.

Across the street, Lenigha Sears, 5, of Rockport, also waited for the parade to begin. Like Sanborn, she, too, wore earmuffs in honor of Chester Greenwood, who invented earmuffs.

"It's cold out here," said Sears, who was bundled up in a bright-pink jacket, purple mittens and large, heart-shaped earmuffs.

Nearby, Mason Wills, 4, and his twin 3-year-old siblings, Phoebe and Tori Wills of Chesterville, munched popcorn while bundled up inside a three-child stroller. They are the children of Nick and Beckie Wills of Chesterville.

"This is our second year here," Wills said. She said it was colder last year and that Saturday's 15-degree temperature felt like "a little bit of a heat wave."

At 11:10 a.m., the parade arrived on Main Street with former Franklin County Sheriff Dennis Pike and a color guard leading the way.

They were followed by two draft horses pulling a large wagon in which Clyde Ross, portraying Chester Greenwood, and Greenwood's great-great granddaughter, Elizabeth Thomas, Santa and Mrs. Claus and other dignitaries.

Greenwood's ancestors stood in the back of a pickup truck, some holding signs recognizing his many inventions, while several children with the Western Maine United soccer team rode on a float behind it.

Then came the 2012 state champion Mt. Blue High School football team, sitting on hay bales on a large flatbed trailer. Team members held their recently won gold ball trophy up as many in the crowd cheered.

After them came a parade within a parade, that of the Franklin County Animal Shelter Parade of Dogs. It sported many leashed dogs leading their owners.

Then, colorful floats from area businesses and organizations bearing children and adults dressed to fit the theme of Santa's Little Helpers began to arrive.

Winners in the float competition for the adult division were the Willy Whack Shop's Willy Whackers, which took first place; Franklin Savings Bank took second place, and the Farmington Historical Society won third place. In the youth division, the Mt. Blue School Bus with Ear Muffs won first place.

Honorable Mention went to the Smiling Goat Precision Juggling Corps, which was a crowd delight.

Emergency vehicles and firetrucks brought up the rear of the 30-minute parade, sirens wailing and horns beeping as the sun made an appearance.

"That was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I enjoyed it," Sanborn said.

Continuing with tradition after the parade came the flag-raising ceremony at the Franklin County Courthouse. Paul Mills of the Historical Society shared a whimsical speech about Chester Greenwood's endeavors.

He then introduced Greenwood's descendants, including Elizabeth Thomas of Boston who has portrayed Greenwood's wife Isabel Whittier for the event for the past 15 years.

Then, Nancy Teel, the volunteer coordinator of the United Way of the Tri-Valley area, recognized Clyde Ross's volunteerism and portrayal of Chester Greenwood since 1986, presenting him with a Shining Star award.

Ross "has been committed to volunteering in greater Franklin County for probably most of his life in so many ways," Teel said.

Ross thanked everyone who has supported Farmington activities.

"Today is just another example of the enthusiasm of our community the stick-to-it-iveness that we have and I'm a great team player and it's a team that makes this go," Ross said.

He and Thomas raised the Chester Greenwood Day flag and other activities got under way.

Terry Karkos, Sun Journal, December 2012

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