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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: January 28, 2019

The Kennebunks’ love fest lasts all February long

Written by: Ray Routhier

Paint the Town Red is a month-long celebration of romance through February in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel, including some two dozen events and specials at restaurants and hotels.
Photo by Heidi Kirn Photography

The towns of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel celebrate the spirit of Valentine’s Day all February long.

Should love be celebrated on just one day?

Some merchants in the Kennebunks don’t think so. They feel like romance should be celebrated for a whole month. Especially if it brings people out to local businesses in February.

For the fifth year, Paint the Town Red events will be held in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel throughout February.

They are mostly packages and promotions designed to bring couples, or anybody, to area restaurants, hotels and shops. Businesses throughout the towns will be decorated with red lights and hearts.

Photo by Heidi Kirn Photography

The events range widely. People interested in romantic local history can take the Love in the Kennebunks tour of the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk for $10. People wanting to get away can purchase a Love KPT package, starting at $479, at three area hotels: The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel in Kennebunkport, The Kennebunkport Inn and The Grand Hotel in Kennebunk. You get a two-night stay, red wine, chocolate-covered strawberries and a three-course dinner for two.

Other events and packages include: pillow painting classes at Dawn Burns Art Studio in Kennebunk for $45; small group cocktail classes at Old Vines Wine Bar in Kennebunk for $60; and couples painting together at Make It KPT in Kennebunkport for $59 per couple.

Photo by Nicole Wolf Photography

There are some two dozen special events, including dinners, an ice bar, oyster shucking and sushi-making demonstrations, and outdoor heated igloos for enjoying cocktails, as well as specials at businesses and inns. For a complete list of events and packages, including dates and prices, go to lovethekennebunks.com.

The event, run by the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel Chamber of Commerce was started by the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, which owns hotels and restaurants in the area, as way to attract visitors to the area during the long, cold winter.

“It’s a slow season for everyone in town, so we thought this would be a way to get people here, to engage with the area in winter,” said Margaret Ybarra, director of marketing for KRC.

One of the more unusual events is the series of Love in the Kennebunks tours at the history-focused Brick Store Museum. Visitors get to tour the galleries and archive storage area of the museum while being told some old, and often sad, local tales of love, said Cynthia Walker, the museum’s executive director. The first tour is Saturday at 11 a.m. with others throughout the month.

One story will be about Kennebunk sea captain Charles Barry, who traveled to India and other far off ports in the mid-1800s, and wrote hundreds of romantic letters to his wife. Staff will pass around some of the letters for people to read, said Walker. The story ends sadly, as Barry was eventually lost at sea.

Another story is about Lizzie Bourne and Robert Lord of Kennebunk, who were engaged to be married in the 1850s. Borne, 18, went hiking on Mount Washington and died of an undetected heart condition before the wedding date.

WHAT: Paint the Town Red, an area-wide celebration of romance featuring packages and special events at inns, restaurants, bars and other businesses.
WHERE: Locations around Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel
WHEN: Throughout February
HOW MUCH: Prices are different for each package or event, including $10 for the Love in the Kennebunks tour of the Brickstore Museum and two-night stay packages at three area hotels, starting at $479.
INFO: gokennebunks.com

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