Porter: ‘We’d like to see as many people on the bridge as possible’

Encouraging the community to come and take part in the opening ceremony of the International Homecoming Festival is Calais City Manager Jim Porter. Free hotdogs and miniature flags have been confirmed. (File photo)

The start of every International Homecoming Festival is marked by a ceremony unique to the St. Croix Valley: the municipal administration of Calais and St. Stephen meet on Ferry Point bridge to shake hands with their counterparts while the national anthems are performed. This year, the Hands Across the Border ceremony is being purposefully emphasized by the festival’s planning committee with the goal of attracting as many community members from both sides of the border as possible.

To draw people to the bridge, both Calais and St. Stephen will be holding separate “meet and greets” for the public on their respective sides of the river, just before the handshaking ceremony takes place. Those on the Calais side will be treated to free hot dogs from Pat’s Plus, cooked in peanut oil per the eatery’s tradition. Everyone that comes to the meet and greet will be given a small flag to wave on the bridge.

To ensure the spectacle of the opening ceremony, the joint festival committee has secured two large flags, one for each country. The massive flags will be hung horizontally from the side of the bridge during the ceremony. “We’d like to see as many people on the bridge as possible,” said Jim Porter, Calais City Manager and festival committee member.

The reception at Pat’s will be held at 5:30 on Wednesday, August 8th, with the handshake itself taking place at 6:30.

The committee is currently seeking someone willing and able to sing the national anthem of the United States. If you’d like to do so, contact Porter at manager@calaismaine.org.

No fee for parade participants and other festival news

Unlike in previous years, those that would like to participate in the international parade will not be charged a fee this year. Individuals, businesses and organizations of all kinds are free to create a float, drive or walk in the parade, which will begin in the Dead River parking lot in Calais and continue over the bridge to St. Stephen. While there is no fee, everyone that would like to be in the parade will still need to register, something that can be accomplished at the city building.

“The parade will be fantastic,” Porter advised, noting the large number of units participating from Anah. While processing the applications from the Anah units, Porter noted a number of standouts, including some that may be bands.

Several volunteers have come forward to assist with the parade to ensure that there are no issues with crossing.

 

The schedule for the festival has been tentatively constructed at this point, and it will be published in full in a future issue. Events are shaping up, with many returning favorites. Some confirmed events include the Peanut Fair, sponsored by Calais PTO, and the Doll Hospital, sponsored by Calais Regional Hospital, both of which will take place at Calais Elementary School on Wednesday, August 8th from 4 to 6 p.m. The PTO, which can be reached on Facebook, is currently looking for volunteers to assist with the Peanut Fair.