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Thousands fill downtown Houlton for Midnight Madness

HOULTON, Maine — Downtown Houlton was the place to be Wednesday evening, July 3, as the Fourth of July festivities began a day earlier with the traditional Midnight Madness celebration.

Sponsored by the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce, the event typically serves as the kick-off to the holiday celebration in the Shiretown. Market Square and Main Street were closed to automobile traffic, allowing people to roam freely to check out the many vendors lining the streets.

Malachi Trembly tries his best to keep the hula hoop going during Wednesday’s Midnight Madness celebration in Houlton. (Joseph Cyr)

Midnight Madness has evolved over the years. Originally a sale-only event with bargains increasing in value as the evening wore on, today’s festivity has evolved into a street fair celebration with sidewalk vendors, music, displays and food booths.

Toni Gillotti, left and Myrna Hutchinson sell popcorn outside of the Temple Cinemas movie theater in downtown Houlton Wednesday as part of Midnight Madness. (Joseph Cyr)

“It was such a wonderful day,” said Jane Torres, executive director for the Chamber. “The crowd was bigger (this year) and it was the perfect 80-degree day, which got people outside and into town.”

Torres added that vendors reported excellent sales and Sadie’s Bakery had one of its longest lines in recent memory as people waited patiently to purchase doughboys. 

The evening’s entertainment, McGill’s Community Band, Cameron “Circus Cam” Clark and  “Ted and the Boys,” was another big draw this year.

“I have never seen so many bringing chairs and setting up to watch Ted and the Boys and McGills Band finally got the opportunity to play outside,” Torres said. “Midnight Madness is the perfect event for everyone to catch up after a long winter and even more prolonged spring. The weather certainly cooperated for this one.”

Emmalyn Thibodeau of Houlton, right, gets a heart painted on her cheek by Morgan Harris at one of the many booths set up in downtown Houlton for Midnight Madness Wednesday, July 3. (Jospeh Cyr)

Many of those in attendance agreed with Torres.

Cindy Albert Hannigan of Littleton said Midnight Madness was her favorite part of the entire Fourth of July celebration. “I love seeing people that come to town for the Fourth, especially at Midnight Madness,” she said. “(I also love) having my family come to town.”

Tim “the Tuneman” Humphrey leads his group of line dancers in a demonstration during Wednesday’s Midnight Madness festival in Market Square. (Joseph Cyr)

Chris Carmichael of Hodgdon agreed. “I enjoy Midnight Madness, and talking to people you don’t see every day. It’s fun catching up. I also look forward to taking the kids to the fair. It’s fun every year.”

Houlton Police Chief Tim DeLuca said this year’s event went off without any incidents. He estimated there were between 6,000-7,000 people visiting downtown Houlton throughout the evening.

Cameron “Circus Cam” Clark of Houlton entertains a large crowd Wednesday evening with his impressive juggling/unicycle skills during the town’s Midnight Madness festival. (Joseph Cyr)

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