Caribou Days celebration kicks off Thursday

CARIBOU, Maine — Summer is in full swing, which means Caribou Days and the “Caribou Cares About Kids” parade are just around the corner. This year, the three day family friendly celebration will have an emoji theme, with guests encouraged to dress up and express this idea how they see fit.

The festivities will kick off on Aug. 2, with a “Caribou Days” themed Thursdays on Sweden Street event featuring music from Star City Syndicate and an outdoor cafe courtesy of Mascoto’s Italian Restaurant.

Caribou Marketing and Events Coordinator Christina Kane-Gibson said that Star City Syndicate is one of the “most requested bands” for the Thursdays event, adding that the band is so large that they will perform “right on the street” as opposed to a stage.

Events are scheduled for nearly all of Friday, beginning with T-shirt tie-dying and a hot dog cookout in the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center on Bennett Drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., after which the United Way will host a Summer Reading event from 2 to 4 p.m. in the same location.

United Veterans of Maine President John DeVeau, right, hands out bracelets during the Aug. 4, 2017 Caribou Cares About Kids parade. (Christopher Bouchard)

At 4:30, the Caribou Public Library will host an Echoes Magazine discussion panel, with contributors and writers discussing memorable pieces written for the publication. Speakers are set to include Dan Ennis of Tobique, N.B., Jean Cobb of St. Agathae, and Theresa Medigan, Donna Hurley, and Kathryn Olmstead of Caribou.

The “Caribou Cares About Kids” parade will begin at 6 p.m., with lineup at Skyway Plaza scheduled for 5 p.m. Kane-Gibson said the parade will follow the usual route from the plaza to Bennett Drive, and end at the Caribou Courthouse on Sweden Street.

“We’ll have a DJ in the park immediately following the parade,” she said, “and begin setting up for a screening of ‘The Emoji Movie,’ sponsored by Cary Medical Center and Pines Health Services.”

Then, on Saturday, the city will host four hours of games, inflatables, and food from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the recreation center. That day, the library also will hold an open community archives event from 1 to 4 p.m. when citizens can come in with any materials from their past and immortalize them in the library’s collection, adding to Caribou’s history.

“A lot of work has gone into the library Echoes Magazine panel and community archive event,” said Kane-Gibson, who added that she and Library Director Anastasia Weigle have been discussing the library’s side of Caribou Days for roughly “four or five months.”

Kane-Gibson said the biggest difference between this year and last year’s event is that, due to construction for a new Prek-8 school occurring at Teague Park, organizers will only be able to use the lawn of the park instead of the entire area. As a result, the Caribou Days celebration will be “a little smaller” this year, she said.

She said the emoji theme came while brainstorming ideas for the parade, and also after “The Emoji Movie” was presented as one of the possible movies the city could screen this year.

“We’ll have emoji beach balls at the Caribou table,” she said, “Shriner clowns will be out there making fun balloon animals, and the Caribou mascot will be out dancing. We’re actually looking for a name for the Caribou mascot and holding a contest for that this year.”

While Caribou Days is a relatively new event for the city, the Caribou Cares About Kids parade (which is now part of the larger, three day event) has been occurring for “decades,” according to Kane-Gibson.

“I definitely can’t take credit for Caribou Days, since Caribou Cares About Kids has been going on for decades,” she said. “We’ve kept the tradition alive and honestly parents look forward to tie-dying shirts just as much as the kids. I’m just happy to be able to carry the torch.”

Kane-Gibson complimented the recreation department staff’s ability to keep the event going for such a long time, and said it’s a great opportunity to bring the community together.

“It’s really just a fun family event,” she said. “It’s well-established, and people look forward to the tradition continuing. We do change up the themes, but it’s the same event that people have loved for years.”

A full schedule of events is available via the City of Caribou website.

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