“Festival of Lights” brings Christmas in July to Portland harbor

Last winter I did a piece covering the Portland harbor dredging project. Portland’s Deputy Harbor Master Lance Hannah invited me to tag along for a patrol to take some up close pictures and get the inside take on the project.

Whether it was my reporting on the issue or my dashing good looks (probably the former), Hannah and I made a good connection. So he invited me to tag along once again on the Harbor Master’s boat.

But this time we would be grand marshaling a parade, of sorts.

See for the past several years the Port of Portland has held a “Festival of Lights”, where anyone with a boat (working or pleasure craft) is invited to adorn their vessel with Christmas decorations and donate to a charitable cause.

The problem is, in the wintertime the temperature on Portland harbor goes from “a tid-bit nipply” on a warm day to the type of hell-frozen-over cold that actually burns the skin on a cold one.

So participation in the Festival of Lights hasn’t exactly reached the level of participation that organizers had hoped for.

The answer? Hold one in July, when the harbor is loaded with boats and activity and the weather is perfect.

After leaving the dock, Hannah was a bit nervous as we made our way over to the area in the bay in between Fort Gorges and Mackworth Island. He wasn’t sure of the turnout, but he said he hoped for at least a dozen boats to participate.

As the sun set more and more boats made their way over to our location and by the time the procession began around 9 pm, about 20 boats had lined up behind us with music playing, people dancing and shouting, and of course- lots of holiday cheer.

It was all for a good cause too, every participating boat and every local marina donated at least one toy for the Toys for Tots charity.

Here’s a slideshow of the pics that I got:

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Hope you liked the pics folks, Happy Holidays!

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Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.