Since joining Portland’s Downtown District in October as the Events and Marketing Manager, I have had the opportunity to be a part of a number of great holiday celebrations. In November, I witnessed the cutting of a 55’ blue spruce and its journey across the Casco Bay Bridge to Monument Square, where it was adorned with over 4,500 LED lights. The day after Thanksgiving, those lights were switched on by Hannah Storey, a child from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, with some help from Santa Claus and Rick Charrette & the Bubblegum Band.
This past weekend, I enjoyed all the Arts District has to offer with the Think Outside the Box event, which featured holiday sales, raffles, and demonstrations. We kicked things off on Saturday with live music in Monument Square from local roots musician Dana Gross, who performed from the back of a festively decorated U-Haul truck courtesy of the fine folks at Mensk. The mission of Mensk is to inspire and support personal, local, and regional action for the development of creative and sustainable communities, and you can often spot their mobile art truck during the First Friday Artwalk.
The Mensk truck rolled through the Arts District throughout the day, stopping for performances by Chas Lester and Portland’s premiere vaudevillians Over A Cardboard Sea. Outside Renys, a couple even took the opportunity to waltz to the music.
I also stopped into the shops and galleries along Congress Street to check out all the great activities. My first stop was at Others! for their fair trade organic tea tasting. Next, I made my way up Congress Street to check out the raffles at Material Objects and The Merchant Company. I also called my fiancée to tell her today was the perfect time to get me the fedora I want for Christmas, as Queen of Hats was offering 10% off. At Daunis Fine Handmade Jewelry, I had the chance to check out their goldsmith in action as she set a diamond in an exquisitely sculpted ring band.
Saturday’s activities also coincided with Shop for A Cause Day, with participating businesses donating a portion of their sales to The Center for Grieving Children and The Portland Police Department’s Cadet Program. Longfellow Books, a participating shop, also hosted “Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day” and let kids pick out a book for FREE! The store was packed all day with children eagerly thumbing through the colorful display of books.
Over at Heron Point Gallery, owner Bonnie Faulkner was offering shoppers the opportunity to create their own fused glass necklaces in return for a donation to the Shop For A Cause charities. And the Portland Police Department cadets themselves were walking the street and helping to keep our community safe and clean.
Think Outside the Box continued on Sunday with more music from the Mensk Truck, including performances by Jay Biddy, Eric Bettencourt, and Meghan Yates. Check out this video of Meghan Yates performing in Monument Square.
And be sure to head down to Monument Square during these next two weekends to catch a free horse & wagon ride. Or stop into one of the many participating stores to enter the Twelve Days of Christmas raffle. We will be picking six more winners between now and December 18th!
Finally, mark your calendars for Merry Madness on Thursday, December 15th! Merry Madness kicks off at the Portland Regency Hotel, 20 Milk Street, 5 – 6 pm with free hors d’oeuvres, fantastic raffle prizes from downtown merchants and your exclusive map of open stores. Shops stay open late, until 10 pm. Finish your holiday shopping and enjoy free refreshments!
Shop, Eat, and Be Merry!