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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: December 23, 2016

Ring in the new year way before the ball drops

A clam drop in Yarmouth and a contra dance at the Portland Public Library are among the family-friendly daytime events on New Year’s Eve.

Written by: Ray Routhier
Fireworks will go off at 6 p.m. New Year's Eve at L.L. Bean in Freeport. Photo courtesy of L.L. Bean

Fireworks will go off at 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve at L.L. Bean in Freeport.
Photo courtesy of L.L. Bean

This year, why not party like it’s 6 p.m.?

If you’re a morning person or have young kids or are of a certain age, you’re likely not going to be full of pep come midnight New Year’s Eve. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss all the fun of ringing in the new year.

Greater Portland is full of New Year’s Eve day activities and things to do that will wrap up by 8 p.m.

That way you can say have your fun, be home at a reasonable hour and be well-rested to spend New Year’s Day taking down Christmas decorations.

Here are some early New Year’s Eve activities scheduled for this year, with an emphasis on family fun.

RING IN 2017

The folks in Bath really know how to ring in the New Year. This year will be the 14th annual “Paul Revere Bell Ringing” at Bath City Hall at noon. The bell was cast by Paul Revere & Son in 1802. People will gather to sing a special version of “Auld Lang Syne” with references to the city and the bell. Revelers are invited to bring party hats and noisemakers. Refreshments will be served in the city hall auditorium.

Bath City Hall, 55 Front St., 11:50 a.m. to 1 p.m., free. visitbath.com

Beloved Maine children's entertainer Rick Charette and The Bubblegum Band will perform at L.L. Bean in Freeport New Year's Eve as part of the annual KidNight. Photo courtesy of Rick Charette

Beloved Maine children’s entertainer Rick Charette and The Bubblegum Band will perform at L.L. Bean in Freeport New Year’s Eve as part of the annual KidNight. Photo courtesy of Rick Charette

FOR THE KIDS

Freeport-based retailer L.L. Bean throws a big family-friendly party every New Year’s Eve, known as KidNight. Activities start at the camping atrium at 11 a.m. with a performance of juggling, comedy and magic by the group Double or Nothing. A one-man dance band called KB Whirly plays at noon. Both groups perform again at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Then, at 5:15 p.m., Maine children’s performer Rick Charette will play an outdoor concert in Discovery Park, followed by fireworks at 6 p.m.

L.L. Bean, 95 Main St., Freeport, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., free. llbean.com

NEW YEAR’S NOON?

A countdown to the new year, just like in Times Square, except that at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, the countdown is at noon and what drops are balloons. And the balloons are meant to be popped. Children are invited to play in the museum beforehand, then gather for the balloon drop before noon. Children are invited to wear pajamas, giving the event a more New Year’s Eve feel. Permanent exhibits for playing and exploring include replicas of a fire truck, car repair shop, lobster boat, market, ranger station, space ship and diner.

Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, 142 Free St., Portland, 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., $10. kitetails.org

DANCE THE MORNING AWAY

Live music and lively dancing — in the library? That’s exactly the case when the Portland Public Library hosts a family contra dance New Year’s Eve morning. Caller Maggie Robinson will tell you what to do, as a band of local musicians plays. No experience is necessary; people will be able to learn as they go. Contra dancing, by the way, is a social style of dancing where people line up opposite, or contra to, each other.

Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., free. portlandlibrary.com

Steamer, the mascot of the Yarmouth Clam Festival, is the focus of Yarmouth's annual Clam Drop event on New Year's Eve. Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

Steamer, the mascot of the Yarmouth Clam Festival, is the focus of Yarmouth’s annual Clam Drop event on New Year’s Eve.
Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

CLAMS A DROPPIN’

In New York they drop a boring old ball. In Eastport, they drop a sardine (something really not in favor much anymore). But, in Yarmouth, they drop a local celebrity — Steamer the Clam.

Steamer is the mascot of Yarmouth’s famous summer celebration, the Yarmouth Clam Festival. A few years ago, some folks took the tradition to New Year’s Eve, by gently lowering a festive facsimile of the smiling clam from atop the First Universalist Church.

He actually gets lowered twice. First at 7 p.m., which is midnight Greenwich Mean Time, and then at midnight Maine time. There will also be cookies, cocoa and music.

First Universalist Church, 97 Main St., Yarmouth, 7 p.m., free, uuyarmouth.org

 

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