A History of Christmas Prelude
It was the early spring of 1982 when Henry Pasco called a meeting of business people for the purpose of discussing ways for the business community to give thanks to the residents of Kennebunkport and Kennebunk for supporting them. Henry suggested a Christmas Festival of some sort to create a sense of community spirit. At the time Nantucket and Marblehead were staging Christmas Festivals. The goal was not to duplicate these events but to stage our own unique festival. Committees were formed and the name Prelude was suggested.
The first Prelude included a tree lighting ceremony, a River Tree Arts concert, a chowder luncheon, candlelight caroling and Santa’s arrival by lobster boat. We now have three tree-lighting ceremonies – Dock Square in Kennebunkport, Lower Village of Kennebunk and the lobster trap tree in Cape Porpoise; about a dozen Art and Craft Fairs; approximately 12 venues serving either breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner; programs sponsored by the Historical Society; and 12 programs of music celebrating the season. Santa still arrives by lobster boat escorted by two very special “lobster elves”. The Kennebunkport Business Association’s Christmas Prelude is now in its 26th year. For each of these years, business people have worked with the community to recreate the spirit and joy of the Christmas season.
Behind the scenes of Prelude is a cast of hundreds. Year after year, virtually every aspect of our community gets involved. Participating in Prelude activities are the churches, schools, civic and community groups, which make Prelude the centerpiece of their fund-raising activities. Many groups support their charity work from the fairs and feasts held on the two weekends. One of the biggest events is held by the Washington Hose Company that serves breakfast and dinner to hundreds of people. The firefighters turn the money they generate from these events into rescue equipment, which otherwise would have been purchased with tax dollars. The very purchase of their rescue boat, the outfitting of it and the upgrading to technical equipment is a direct result of monies raised over Prelude.
Prelude would not be the celebration that it is without the thousands of volunteer hours that go into the preparations. The KBA plans and pays for the decorations for Kennebunkport and Lower Village. In good weather or bad, you will find these hardworking volunteers devoting two days of their time in dressing the villages in their holiday finery with sparkling lighted Christmas trees, seashell decorated wreaths, and garlands of greenery and ribbon.
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