More than a dozen authentic Prohibition-era streetcars will become cocktail lounges for the evening, and you’re encouraged to dress the part.
We don’t really want Prohibition back.
We happen to like drinking our cocktails openly, thank you, and besides, police raids tend to put a damper on an otherwise lovely evening.
So the 18th amendment, which made the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages illegal in the U.S. between 1920 and 1933, can stay repealed. Forever.
But the 20s did have their perks: The fashion (so long, corsets, hello trousers, bobbed hair and dresses that show off our knees – gasp!), the music (Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington), the dancing (the Charleston!) and the speakeasies (guess we have to thank Prohibition for that one).
The era was also a heyday for streetcars.
This last fact might not seem all that important to the average modern-day 20s appreciator (the flapper dresses and jazz tend to get all the attention), but it’s an important one to Sally Bates.
Bates is the executive director of the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport. If you grew up in the area or have kids, you’ve probably been to the museum off Log Cabin Road to ride the trolley and browse the restored vintage streetcar collection, which includes cars from around the country and the world.
Last year, Bates started thinking about ways to attract a broader audience to the museum.
“I thought, if only I could serve alcohol,” she said. “And then I thought, well, I can serve alcohol but what would be the pretense?”
Vintage trolleys + cocktails = Speakeasy.
It all comes together.
“The vintage streetcars that people call trolleys were in operation during the prohibition years,” said Bates. So it was an obvious connection. And an excuse to throw one fantastic, roaring twenties party.
On Friday, the Seashore Trolley Museum turns from a kid-friendly play place to an adults-only 1920s-era speakeasy.
More than a dozen authentic Prohibition-era streetcars will become cocktail lounges for the evening, many tucked side-by-side inside a large barn, so guests can meander from one to another. Some will be stationed outside, if the weather accommodates, and another will move back and forth on the tracks to bring guests from the Visitor’s Center to where the party’s taking place.
The Maine Brew Bus will also be there to help with transportation.
Inside the large barn, attendees can enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres and drinks and listen to the music of the 20s while sitting inside one of the vintage trolleys (a password, of course, will be required to board each one).
“Each car is set up a little differently,” said Bates. “It makes for a very different atmosphere in the cars. But it’s not a stretch to get your mind back there and have a totally authentic experience.”
It helps if you’re wearing speakeasy-appropriate attire.
“We hope most or all will dress in a way that is…in the spirit of the era,” said Bates.
There will also be silent films projected outdoors on the side of a car and all the musical acts will perform music written from 1920 to 1933.
The folks from Dogfish Bar & Grill will operate the bar, and they’ll also be pouring the night’s specialty cocktails: The Seashore 75.
The drink, a raspberry-infused vermouth and vodka martini, garnished with fresh raspberries, is a celebration of the museum’s 75th anniversary. And for those teetotalers out there (or folks who simply prefer a non-alcoholic cocktail), Vena’s Fizz House will be mixing mocktails.
Guests can purchase signature cocktail and wine glasses, if they’d like, as well as raffle tickets for an array of prizes (like a year’s worth of Shipyard beer. Take that, Neal Dow).
And amid all the revelry and beads, the cocktails and fedoras, Bates hopes attendees will take a moment to appreciate an historic collection they might not have paid attention to before.
“We have an amazing collection of cars that are genuine antiques and that represent a variety of cities around the country and around the world,” said Bates. “This is not the Seashore Trolley Museum they think they know.”
Just don’t tell the cops.
WHEN: 6 to 10:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Seashore Trolley Speakeasy, 195 Log Cabin Road, Kennebunkport
TICKETS: $50. Purchase online at www.trolleymuseum.org or by calling the museum at 207-967-2800 x 101
MORE INFO: www.trolleymuseum.org