• Amarinda Keys

Behind The Scenes: Making Kringleville Magic Happen

Kringleville and the Parade of Lights have been long-standing traditions in the Waterville community. For many years, this family-centered event was coordinated by Waterville Main Street, but when the organization dissolved in 2017, the Kringleville tradition was adopted by the Children’s Discovery Museum. Many people think that the holiday event is put on by the city, but it is actually coordinated entirely by the museum! How do we pull off such a massive event? It takes a whole lot of planning behind the scenes!


The most iconic part of Kringleville is probably the square. The setup was recently featured

in the Travel Awaits article “8 Charming Small Towns In Maine That Feel Like A Hallmark Christmas Movie,” which highlighted the magical transformation we create in Castonguay Square for the holiday season. Each year, with the help of Carroll's Body Shop in Winslow, we bring the Kringleville Cabin to the square and decorate it with twinkle lights. We also set up life-size wooden arctic animals that were hand-painted by Abby Stratton, a beloved previous museum employee. We also have a gingerbread house and several photo-opts for families to enjoy. This year, we were fortunate to receive the support of Central Maine Power, who brought in their bucket trucks to decorate the square’s trees with colorful lights. Finally, the scene is finished off by the iconic Christmas tree, which is brought in and decorated by the City of Waterville.



In a typical year, Santa visits families in his Cabin every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We coordinate all sorts of festivities to keep people busy while they wait in line, including carolers, hot chocolate by local businesses, ice skating on a mini rink donated by Golden Pond Wealth Management, and we even had a juggler one year! We are also slowly growing a collection of outdoor heaters to help keep people warm, with propane donated by Fabian Oil. People come from all over the region to visit Santa! We are also proud to partner with the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, Marden’s, and Sappi, who ensure that each child who visits Kringeville will receive one free storybook. The Kringleville page is managed by the wonderful Sue Dutil, who pours her heart into filling people’s Facebook feeds with holiday love and magic, and has increased the page’s followers by the thousands.


This year and last year, in an abundance of caution, we decided to host Krinlgeville virtually. Families sign up for 5-7min time slots for video calls with the big man. While we understand that meeting with Santa this way might not feel quite as magical to some, we love seeing

how much more comfortable children are talking in the comfort of their homes- plus there was no waiting in the cold! Coordination for this version of Kringleville is much more complicated. The first year, registration was done through text message, which was answered and booked by the museum’s only employee at the time, Amarinda Keys the Museum director. This year, we are utilizing an online platform called Calendly to help people schedule on their own which has been much easier for everyone involved.


As if that wasn’t enough, we have added Light up the Town, a region-wide light decorating contest complete with a map drawn by the spectacular local artist and CDM board member, Serena Sanborn. And this year, we worked in partnership with the Mid-Maine Chamber, Waterville Creates, and the City of Winslow for a day filled with holiday fun that finished with the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, pulled by the magnificent horses from S & S Carriage Rides.


It is always our mission to keep all Kringleville festivities completely free to the public, funded through support from the City and local businesses. As we look towards the future, we hope to bring in more partners to help elevate the event and include more winter-centric festivities to ensure that the event is inclusive to all.


As you can see, coordinating such a large event takes a lot of time, partnership, and money, but we are so proud to do this work when we see how much it means to families.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.


With love, The Children’s Discovery Museum


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