Boothbay Lights brings business to community

Mon, 01/10/2022 - 8:45am

    The annual Boothbay Lights festivities ended earlier this month marking the second year the celebrations have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Indoor events such as the craft fair and the festival of trees could not make a return due to pandemic restrictions. However, the Lighted Fire Truck Parade which was created last year will now be a permanent addition to the festival. 

    “It takes our whole community. It takes the business owners and the (Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce) board of directors. Everyone gets involved to make it all happen,” said BHRCC Executive Director Lisa Walby. 

    Boothbay Lights started six years ago as a companion event to Gardens Aglow at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens to help the local economy in the off season. This year, the Chamber also ran a promotional event to encourage guests visiting the Gardens to stop downtown; $100 gift certificates were given away each week to people who sent in selfies in front of the buoy tree and a receipt from a local business. All entries went into a final $250 drawing on Jan. 1. 

    Walby estimated 72,000 people visited the Gardens this year. 

    “Everyone was so joyful and you could feel it. It resonated off one person to the next,” said Patty Sterling of Boothbay Harbor Market & Country Store. “I think everyone was ready to be in a celebratory space and just enjoy the holidays because it was a little different for everyone the year before.”

    Sterling commended the community for a standout year of festivities but her most “magical” day was Santa and Mrs. Claus's arrival to Whale Park. She even left her store temporarily to experience the atmosphere and the decorations. “That's the day when we had customers literally tell us: ‘This is like a Hallmark movie,’” Sterling recalled. 

    However, co-owner of Coastal Maine Popcorn Julie Roberts, felt there were fewer people than last year due to a combination of COVID-19, the Gardens’ larger parking lot, and the lack of shuttles decreasing traffic flow. But she appreciated the customers the festivities did bring to the area and all the work that went into the event. 

    “I just love our community. It's such a great place to be. We have so much to offer (with) people coming and experiencing something they haven't experienced before. To be able to stretch out that shoulder offseason for us all financially is a pretty big deal,” said Roberts.