Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pirates Kid’s Celebration helps bring in the New Year and the Black Cat Ball is back!

If you are looking for a New Years Eve with  the family or to celebrate red carpet style with 350 of your closest friends, here are a few offerings:

Bring in the New Year with your entire family and the Portland Pirates! The annual Kid’s New Year Celebration at the Cumberland Civic Center includes a game between the Pirates and the Connecticut Whale followed by INDOOR fireworks.  For tickets and more information visit portlandpirates.com. 

For more of a glamorous, festive, dancing and live music style New Years Eve, the Black Cat Ball is back after 17 years.  Featuring the rockin’ sounds of Wavelength, there will be hot & cold hors d’oeuvres, Cash bar, Free champagne toast, Countdown with balloon drop, Photo Booth, Party Favors and more.  The event is held at the Mariner’s Church, tickets are $50 and more information including the history if this  big night can be found on Sid Tripp’s Black Cat Ball facebook page.

Reny’s to move into downtown Portland

Great news for Downtown Portland today, Reny’s will be moving into the old LL Bean and Olympia Sports retail spaces on Congress Street in Portland.   Targeting a May Grand Opening, Reny’s will leverage the entire 25 thousand square feet of space, bringing jobs and retail shoppers to downtown Portland.  This news wraps up a wonderful holiday event season in downtown Portland and is a great way to kick off the New Year!

WHOM Prize Package – last chance to enter! Winner to be announced tomorrow.

 94.9 WHOM is offering a fantastic prize package valued at well over $1,00. Go to their web site to enter NOW!  Win an overnight stay for two with meals included at the Eastland Hotel AND a $200 gift card from each one of these old port merchants:

Minott’s Flowers (Temple St.), Serendipity (Exchange St.), Vervacious (Commercial St.), Zrinka (Fore St.), Old Port Playhouse (Temple St.).

This prize is valued at well over $1000! ENTER NOW TO WIN!

Merry Madness Tonight!

Eat Drink and Be Merry TONIGHT! Merry Madness starts at the Eastland Park Hotel from 5-6pm with free food, music and great raffles. Commemorative wine glasses are on sale for $6 and mugs for $5, then jump on the free bus shuttle with your map of over 70 shops staying open late until 10pm. You can refill your wine glass or coffee mug in the shops while you finish your holiday shopping!

Eastland Park Hotel is on 157 High Street, a list of stores can be found here!

Kick off Winter with Sebago and Saddleback Mountain!

Sebago Brewing Company is holding a “Powder Keg” winter kickoff event with Saddleback Mountain tonight starting at 4PM – Experts will be there to talk about the latest and greatest in snow sports, offering a raffle win a Nitro T0 snowboard (a $400 value) OR a pair of Smith Prodigy Ski Goggles (a $120 value) from Rodgers Ski and Sport in Scarborough. When you register at the event you receive a FREE lift ticket to Saddleback and enjoy $1 drafts of Sebago’s Saddleback Ale and Happy Hour menus pricing ($5 apps!). In addition, your registration also enters you into a ski and stay package including 2 nights lodging and three days of skiing midweek for 4 people! ($870 value)! Not a bad way to kick of the Winter season, enjoy great beer and food and win some amazing prizes. Festivities start at 4:00, 164 Middle Street in Portland.

The power of words

 Widely celebrated artist Jenny Holzer is here in Portland to present one of her thought provoking projections. She has projected images and text on some of the most powerful and well known venues including the German Parliament, the Guggenheim museums in New York, Bilboa and Spain, state of the art skyscrapers and ancient tombs.  Portland is one of the smallest locations she has worked on and many of her pieces educate and inform highlighting violence, oppression or injustice. In Portland she is projecting work from Nobel Prize-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska on the walls of the Portland Museum of Art. This is a not-to-miss opportunity to see such powerful exhibition. Jenny will be at the Holiday Inn By the Bay at 5:30 for a lecture, followed by the projection at 7:00-10:00 in Congress Square.  For more information visit portlandmuseum.org

Shop for a Cause this Saturday

45 stores throughout downtown Portland are giving back to the community this Saturday for Shop For A Cause Day.  A portion of the sales from participating stores are donated to The HOME Team;  A street program designed to provide real time street intervention with individuals in the downtown business district and Bayside neighborhood who are engaging in disruptive behavior.  Here is more info from The Milestone Foundation on the program:  “We recognize that these behaviors are often the result of psychosocial stressors associated with poverty, homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness.  Often these behaviors cause pedestrians, potential patrons, business and property owners to feel uncomfortable and/or unsafe.   

Providing real time intervention services with trained outreach workers will significantly improve the sense of safety and well being for potential patrons and pedestrians in the Downtown Districts and Bayside neighborhood.  

Youth Alternatives Ingraham will provide assessments to individuals in crisis.  These assessments will be provided by YAI as needed with a crisis worker responding on location to individuals who may be in need of more intensive services.

Street outreach workers will also provide ongoing support, education and information to individuals living on the streets in an effort to attract them to engage in meaningful behavior change.  By staying connected to individuals on an ongoing basis, HOME Team outreach workers will help increase the likelihood that those individuals will follow through with needed services, reducing the incidence of disruptive behaviors and nuisance crimes in Portland’s Downtown District and Bayside neighborhood. “

Visit portlandmaine.com for a list of participating stores and shop Saturday while supporting your community!

What a night!

Over 6 thousand people came out on a beautiful night to usher in the holidays with the tree lighting in Monument Square.  Cameron from the Make A Wish Foundation who has battled Leukemia for 3 years lit the tree with Santa after the Nutcracker dancers and Rick Charette “wowed” the audience with their holiday performances.

A huge thanks to MEMIC and Dunkin Donuts who sponsored the event!

50’ Blue Spruce to be delivered to Monument Square tomorrow!

Thursday, November 18 at approximately10 AM, the tree that signals the holiday season in Portland arrives in Monument Square. The beautiful 50 foot Colorado Blue Spruce was donated anonymously by a family on 111 Brentwood Street, Portland and the owners look forward to seeing it lit in Monument Square.

“It is the most magnificent tree we have ever had in Monument Square, it is really a beautiful tree” says Jeff Tarling, City Arborist.

The tree will be lit with over 1,500 LED lights, donated by Efficiency Maine during the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday November 26th at 5:30pm.  Produced by Portland’s Downtown District (PDD), the festive night includes entertainment by Rick Charette and the Bubblegum Band and the Maine State Ballet. A Make-A-Wish child will light the tree this year with help from a very special guest! The tree will be surrounded by a white picket fence making it the perfect place for downtown holiday photographs.

Crews from the Forestry Section of Portland Department of Public Services will prepare the tree for transportation to Monument Square at 8:30 AM, 111 Brentwood Street. Keely Crane Services and Shaw Brothers Construction have donated staff, crane and transportation services to make this project possible.  At 9AM, the tree will begin its hour-long trip down Stevens Avenue, Brighton Avenue and through the downtown via Congress Street arriving at its new home in Monument Square around 10 AM.

Pandora’s Lights

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Between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, as Maine endures the long, dark, cold, colorless grip of winter, the city of Portland lights up with a fantastic display of colorful lights that illuminate everything from the Commercial Street waterfront through the Old Port shopping district to the Congress Street arts district up to Longfellow Square.

Deering Oaks, too, comes alive with these lights, as does the heart of Freeport village. These are not, in fact, Christmas lights, but rather the elegant abstract “light forms” of sculptor Pandora LaCasse.

LaCasse may well be both Maine’s most and least visible artist. On the one hand, more people probably see her art in any given year than that of any other artist in the state. On the other, she is a modest fifty-eight-year-old mother who prefers not be in the limelight.

She does not have a listed telephone number. She does not have a Web site. And there are no signs identifying her studio in a former electrical supply warehouse in Portland’s Bayside industrial neighborhood.

“It’s not that I don’t want to branch out,” says LaCasse. “I’m just very busy doing what I do now.”

Pandora LaCasse was born Pandora Worster in Skowhegan in 1952. Having worked for the Central Maine Morning Sentinel while in high school, she thought seriously about becoming a photojournalist, but after marrying David LaCasse and traveling the world with him while he served in the air force, she returned to Maine and majored in art at the University of Maine. Between 1980 and 1983, she earned a masters of fine arts degree in sculpture at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1983, Pandora and David LaCasse settled in Portland. David, an electrical engineer, established LaCasse & Weston, a firm specializing in industrial heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. Pandora raised their daughter Bree and son Christopher, taught at the University of Southern Maine and Maine College of Art, and kept busy as a touring artist under the auspices of the Maine Arts Commission.

LaCasse created abstract sculpture in wood, metal, and Plexiglas until 1998 when, she explains, she began sculpting with light at the request of Barbara Hager, then-executive director of Portland’s Downtown District.

“We were searching for ways to draw attention to downtown Portland,” explains Hager. “First we hired the guy who does the lights on netting in Harvard Square. Then we found Pandora. We were so proud of doing something so unique, and we were so proud that she was a local artist.”

LaCasse’s light designs began modestly, with lights on poles along Congress Street and wrapped around trees in Tommy’s Park at the corner of Middle and Exchange streets. Over the years, LaCasse’s lights spread across downtown Portland, appearing as abstract shapes across the facade of Maine College of Art, as flames of light on trees in Longfellow Square, and as “bubbles from the sea” adorning businesses along Commercial Street.

LaCasse’s 1,800-square-foot, two-room studio on the second floor of the former Rockingham Electrical Supply Company is a spartan industrial space where she fashions spring wire and stainless steel tubing into the forms around which she wraps her lights — strings of fifty LED lights in a palette consisting of red, blue, green, gold, orange, pink, and purple.

“I like the purity of the colors,” she says. “I try to paint with those colors.”

LaCasse does all the design work herself, but the annual installation of her light forms becomes something of a family affair. Daughter Bree came up with the spiral method used to wrap the strings of light into the metal forms. Husband David and electrician Dan Swett do the electrical work. David LaCasse also programs the lights, which change color daily. (LaCasse does not care for blinking lights.) And nephew Jesse LaCasse, a former St. Joseph’s College catcher now playing professional baseball in Germany, returns each October to take charge of the actual installation of the lights around the city.

Portland’s Downtown District budgets forty thousand dollars a year for LaCasse’s ever-changing light exhibition. “It’s absolutely a unique take on holiday lighting,” says Portland’s Downtown District Executive Director Jan Beitzer. “It reflects the contemporary nature of Portland, its art community, and the creative economy.”

In 2002, the Friends of Deering Oaks commissioned LaCasse to light up the park, which she does with light forms around the urban skating pond and by tracing the limbs of the park’s signature pin oak, the Candelabra Tree. Three years later, LaCasse added her largest single commission, designing the Northern Lights display for the L.L. Bean campus in Freeport. There she combines traditional Christmas tree lighting with both her abstract light forms and a projected wash of colored lights across the front of the store itself.

“I’m always trying to get to the essence of a place,” says LaCasse of her illuminating artwork. “I think people like the lights because it’s the middle of winter and they respond to the color and light. And it’s accessible. You don’t have to think about it.”

True enough. Come the bleak midwinter, all you have to do is walk around Portland and Freeport and enjoy the glow.

  • By: Edgar Allen Beem
  • Photography by: Mark Fleming