December 25, 2013

Christmas in Waterville

A Morning Sentinel portrait of the community during the holiday.

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

It is the morning of Christmas Eve in Waterville. The recent ice storm has knocked out the power of nearly half the residents of Kennebec County, bringing some of them back to a simpler time of wood heat and candlelight.

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Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans SPECIAL DELIVERY: Romeo Remy, 69, gets a special Meals-on-Wheels delivery at his apartment at Elm Towers in Waterville from Santa Claus on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013.

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Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans CHRISTMAS IN WATERVILLE: Brody Jabar, 1, looks to his mother for some entertainment Heather during the Christmas Eve Liturgy at St. Joesph's Maronite church in Waterville on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013.

Additional Photos Below

Waterville, virtually unscathed by the power outages, remains an oasis of light and power amid the vast swaths of blackness of many surrounding communities.

The roads are mostly clear and dry, offering safe passage through the winter wonderland nature has created.

The frost-covered branches of fir trees slump downward, covering their bare patches and making them look like idealized images of a Christmas tree.

The tops of birch trees of a certain diameter bend all the way to the ground, forming an arbor complete with ice-coated chandeliers of branches.

With glistening surfaces extending all the way up to the brilliant treetops, it is hard to imagine a whiter Christmas could be possible.

Roger Derosier

At the Muskie Center on Gold Street, volunteers are busy working for the Meals on Wheels Program, one of hundreds of social service agencies throughout the region, the Muskie Center is a hotbed of do-gooders, breeding acts of kindness.

At 7:30 a.m., volunteers are busily putting together packages of food to take to seniors who need them, working on the stainless silver tables of the kitchen, with silver ladles and whisks and spoons dangling above their heads.

They know that, in some cases, they will be the only visitor their clients receive on Christmas Eve. In preparation, retired road maintenance worker Roger Derosier, a lifelong volunteer who has put in time at the Human Society, the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, has donned a full-length Santa Claus outfit.

He and the other workers raise their voices to be heard over the constant rustle and snap of hundreds of lunch bags, which are being filled, assembly style at a blistering pace, with butter and rolls, a four-bean salad, milk, fruit juice, chicken pot pie and fresh Christmas oranges.

They talk about the work, and about the weather.

A woman wearing a blinking Christmas tree around her neck and another blinking ornament around her wrist tells Derosier that another volunteer has called in, which will add a chunk of Fairfield to Derosier’s workload for the day.

“By myself?” he asks the volunteer in disbelief. It’s a lot of deliveries for a man who is planning on carrying the food in a festive red sack.

A fresh volunteer walks in the door and grabs a couple of bags to fill.

“Welcome to the loony bin,” a woman says, dryly.

Dani Wright

At a Circle K convenience store on Kennedy Memorial Drive, young mother Dani Wright, 27, wishes all of her customers a merry Christmas.

She operates a cash register behind a counter that includes, among other seasonal items, a candy bar the size of a laptop computer.

“I’m so excited,” she says, emphasizing the word so with such force that her shoulder-length brown hair bounces in the air.

The high point for her will be when her 3-year-old daughter unwraps a tool set.

Some of her friends scoffed at the idea of buying a tool kit for a girl, but she knows what her daughter will like, she says.

When the tool set is revealed, it is clear that both mother and daughter will be equally excited.

Jim Dickson

Over on Morrill Avenue, Jim Dickson speaks on the phone from his home. He lost power on Monday evening, and spent the night at his father-in-law’s house in Oakland. After borrowing a generator from his in-laws, he returned to the home this morning and spent 20 minutes installing it.

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Additional Photos

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Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans CHRISTMAS IN WATERVILLE: Seats are filled at the 7th annual Central Maine Family Christmas Dinner at the Elk's Lodge in Waterville on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013.

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Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans CHRISTMAS IN WATERVILLE: The trademark hay rides for patrons of the 7th annual Central Maine Family Christmas Dinner drives down the icy tunnel of Industrial Parkway in Waterville on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013.

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Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans CHRISTMAS IN WATERVILLE: Father Larry Jensen gives the Christmas Eve Liturgy at St. Joesph's Maronite church in Waterville on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013.

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Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans CHRISTMAS IN WATERVILLE: Brenda Blair, a dinner volunteer, shares a moment with a patron of the 7th annual Central Maine Family Christmas Dinner at the Elk's Lodge in Waterville on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Organizers were expecting as many as 1000 diners this year.

  


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