Friday, July 9, 2010

Ogunquit Days – Village Celebrates 30 Years of Separation

By Candi Enman
Staff Columnist
The village of Ogunquit turned 30 on July 1st, and boy do they know how to throw a party.
For five full days, July 1st through the 5th, community leaders, residents, business owners and visitors celebrated the historic July 1, 1980 separation of Ogunquit from the town of Wells, of which it had been a part dating back to the 1600’s. Although its official incorporation and municipality status was granted in 1913, as the town of Wells continued to grow commercially, Ogunquit sought separation in order to maintain its personal, small town feel.
Throughout the long holiday weekend, the Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and several community organizations and committees held tours and hosted special exhibits that exemplified the heart and soul of the quaint, nostalgic “beautiful place by the sea”. From morning till night and from Perkins Cove to the Ogunquit Playhouse, birthday party festivities were ubiquitous throughout the village.
Among the many highlights was the 30th Birthday Party, held on Thursday afternoon on the lawn of the Ogunquit Memorial Library. While munching on a large, scrumptious American flag blueberry and strawberry birthday cake courtesy of Bread & Roses Bakery, participants listened as life-long residents and early governing officials shared stories about Ogunquit’s move to an independent town.
Richard Littlefield, whose descendants were the first permanent white settlers of Ogunquit, was a town Overseer in the 1970’s and one of the leaders in the move to separation. “We had our own philosophy and wanted to maintain a nice, little town,” said Littlefield. Becoming its own village meant that the people of Ogunquit could make their own laws and adopt ordinances on issues like road signage and their ability to prevent ‘formula food’ restaurants and chains from coming into town. Littlefield went on to say, “Everyone who lives here is proud of this community. Innkeepers and residents alike keep their properties nice and we continue to retain our hometown, community feeling.”
On Saturday, the Ogunquit Conservation Commission’s Greening Committee held “Green Day” at the Main Beach. Committee Co-chairs, Bob Joyner and Madeline Brown, together with volunteers set up an awareness display to raise money for the greening of Ogunquit and to educate visitors on ways to help protect Ogunquit’s natural resources. For a small donation, beachgoers had fun tossing water and juice bottles into a recycling bin and walked away with a ‘Green Day. Everyday.’ reusable tote bag and other prizes donated by local businesses.
“Over the last two years we’ve been working together with Ogunquit businesses and residents to help keep our community green,” said Joyner. Green Day sponsors that underwrote the tote bags, including Bintliff’s, Meadowmere Resort and Clay Hill Farm Restaurant, are Maine-certified environmental leaders. “We have the second highest number of them in the state, behind Bar Harbor.”
Green Day reusable totes are still available for a $1.50 donation to support the commission’s continued outreach efforts to keep Ogunquit beautiful, clean and green, and can be purchased at Jeremiah’s, This Is It, Ogunquit Remedies, Revelations and the Ogunquit Camera Shop.
Visitors who stopped by the Dunaway Center on School Street on Saturday or Sunday had the chance to view the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt display and to remember those from Maine who lost their lives to AIDS and HIV.
Chris Prudente, President of the NAMES Project: Northern New England Chapter was on hand to answer questions and provide insight about the non-profit organization’s mission to continue education, to remind us all that the disease is on the increase again in our country, even though it’s preventable.
“In the 90’s medications were developed to manage the disease and people weren’t as scared about contracting it. Since 2000, though, AIDS is again on the increase and its face has changed,” said Prudente. “Here in Maine high school and college kids are getting sick and nationwide, women are currently the fastest growing segment getting STDs and HIV.”
“The Town of Ogunquit, including the town manager, has been very supportive of our organization and our mission, and we are very appreciative,” added Prudente. If you missed them, the quilts are maintained and stored locally at the expense of the Northern New England Chapter and can be seen on display each year during Memorial Day Weekend.
Other awareness and fundraising events were enjoyed by locals and visitors: Thursday’s ‘80’s Night at MaineStreet’ to benefit the Frannie Peabody Center, Friday night’s Spirit of Giving Committee’s ‘Poodle Skirts for Pups’ 50’s-themed fundraiser for the Animal Welfare Society, and Sunday evening’s ‘Run for the Fallen’ 80’s Night at Clay Hill Farm.
The Ogunquit Playhouse birthday celebration festivities included back stage tours, hot air balloon rides and its Children’s Theater production of “101 Dalmatians”.
One thing is for sure, the people of Ogunquit are proud of their culture and individuality, and especially their warm, vibrant village. And why shouldn’t they be? Just look around.
Photo caption: 30th Birthday Cake by Bread & Roses Bakery (Candi Enman photo)