ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There may have been crowds at the malls and big box stores, but local downtowns had some crowds of their own...and are hoping for more.
There's a nationwide push again this year for "Shop Local Saturday." At businesses like Planet Toys in Rockland, they say shopping local is what they're all about. And while the downtown stores weren't open at midnight, there were still shoppers getting an early start on gift-buying. Main Street business owners and managers say a healthy Christmas shopping season crucial for them to have the income to keep the doors open until summer, when the tourists come back.
Thanksgiving weekend is Festival of Lights weekend in Rockland, with a variety of events to kick off the season. The most popular may be the oldest -- Santa Claus arriving by boat. A big crowd of parents and kids braved the wind-chill to see Santa land at the dock, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard. The weekend celebration continues with the lighting of the lobster trap tree tonight, a range of activities Saturday and the Festival of Lights parade Saturday night. Businesses hope it will help bring people into downtown to shop, and that they will keep coming.
Downtowns all over Maine, of course, hope for the same, and will be doing their own shop local promotions to make it happen.