Santa visit brings smiles, happy tears in Damariscotta

Posted:  Saturday, November 26, 2016 - 9:15pm

Melanie “Nana” Cook wiped away tears Saturday as granddaughter Charlotte Dakin, 6 months, and Dakin’s mother Sasha Gieseman stepped down from the Lincoln Theater stage. Mother and daughter had just met with Santa Claus, following his arrival by jeep in a parade from Newcastle to Damariscotta, where the Renys Rockets danced on Main Street.

Dakin is Cook’s ninth, and she thinks last grandchild. Being together means everything, the Waldoboro woman said. “It’s the true meaning of Christmas.”

A lot of families were having happy moments at the event Reny’s President John Reny said has run several decades. He stood by a sound system that was piping out “I’ll be home for Christmas” and other holiday songs before the start of the noontime parade. Next to him was Midcoast Dance Studio owner Faye Cain in a bright red coat. The Rockets had been rehearsing the performance for four or five weeks; the troupe has been part of Santa’s arrival since about 1995, helping to make the event like a mini version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, the two said.

The event kicks off the holiday season, Reny said.

Kriss Hunold said daughter Quinn, 14, a Renys Rocket, had been looking forward to Saturday. “I think it’s awesome,” Hunold said about her daughter’s participation. Hunold was waiting on the sidewalk with son Alden, 12, and Hunold’s fellow Hospice Choir member and fellow Nobleboro resident Paula Campbell. At Campbell’s side was her granddaughter Vivian Simmons, 8, of Newcastle, who smiled and said she was nervous about getting to see Santa.

This will be Simmons’ second Christmas since moving to Maine from Atlanta, Georgia, her grandmother said, smiling.

Newcastle and Damariscotta fire trucks, a truck carrying a group from Coastal Kids Preschool, a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office cruiser, and Santa’s ride for the parade, the jeep from Newcastle Chrysler Dodge Ram Jeep, traveled under a cloudy sky, but nothing was coming down and some parade-goers said it was nicer weather than the event sometimes gets. The Renys Rockets got the crowd’s applause and one parade-goer’s call of “Bravo.”

Inside Lincoln Theater after the parade, Damariscotta Region Chamber of Commerce board member Marva Nesbit handed out candy canes to each child after their on-stage visit with Santa. “This is my favorite job in the world,” Nesbit, also smiling, said. She handed out the candy canes while president and the chamber let her do it again this year, she said.

Charlotte Ramsdell, 4, of New Harbor wore a dress and Santa hat to see Santa. She got her picture taken with him and then with the Rockets. Ramsdell’s mother Carol recalled that last year, her daughter bypassed the line and said she needed to see Santa. The other families let her go ahead, and then she didn’t ask him for anything. “She needed to see him because she missed him.”

Our photo gallery, Santa’s Newcastle-Damariscotta visit, captures more moments from the event.