Runners have the right idea, fitting in a festive community workout before the turkey feast. Portland's 35th annual Thanksgiving Day 4-Miler raised money for the St. Patrick’s Secondary School in Kenya, the USM Women's Track team, the Rafiki Foundation, Portland Trails, and Partners for World Health.
The Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) knows how to market classical concerts to the young adult crowd: Seat them together and have their tickets include a happy hour after the show. The program, Symphony and Spirits, is for adults ages 21-39. The Nov. 12 symphony included Sibelius's Fifth, featuring guest violinist Benjamin Beilman, who at 26 would fit right in with the Symphony and Spirits crowd. The next meetup is Friday, Dec. 9 for the PSO's "Magic of Christmas," featuring Cirque de la Symphonie, after an ugly sweater contest and drinks at Bull Feeny's. #symphonyandspirits
The Greater Portland young professionals group PROPEL hosted a large--and free!--networking event at The Portland Club on Nov. 17. Food by The Black Tie Co., magic by Phil Smith, billiards, music, cocktails and plenty of networking rounded out an evening of simply making connections.
What better way to celebrate Veterans Day weekend than in USO style? The University of Southern Maine Gorham campus hosted its second annual Big Band Bash, open to the public and free to veterans and university students. If just walking into a formal dance that smells like freshly polished gymnasium flooring didn't take you back, The Portland Symphony Orchestra, the USM Jazz Ensemble, vocalists from the USM School of Music, and dancing by USM Ballroom Dance students would. For the "I don't know how to ballroom dance" types, the evening started with an hour of instruction.
For the fourth year, the USM Woodbury Campus Center was opened to the public for a free multicultural food and music festival. Anyone not sure how to find the campus center could just follow the African rhythms of the highly entertaining Batimbo Beats percussion and dance group. Members of USM's Tourism and Hospitality Event Planning class served up samples of dishes from Spain, Somalia, India and Egypt--and of course some clam chowder and whoopie pies from Maine. A diverse crowd of university and high school students, faculty and staff, and interested community members popped in for lunch.
Once a year the Hellenic Society of Paideia of Maine--Paideia for short--hosts a big old-fashioned Greek dinner dance the likes of which you might find at a wedding. It's a chance for Greek Americans with ties to orthodox churches in Portland, Biddeford/Saco, and Lewiston to gather together, reconnect and work up a sweat with traditional Greek dancing. It's an all-ages family-like party--for the whole community, everyone welcome.
Portland's West End neighborhood celebrated its 34th annual Halloween Parade with drums, ukuleles, belly dancers, spooky and puppets overhead. Trick-or-treaters along the route braved the crowded stairs up to brownstones with bowls of candy. A few yards were attractions in their own right, including one that involved waiting in line to be allowed admittance by a ragtag-looking pair of teens. Creepy.
The Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum in Portland celebrated Halloween weekend with pumpkin train runs. Each rider was welcome to cider, cookies and a pumpkin--allegedly for decorating, though some were rolly polly enough to roll around the train cars. After this last weekend of fall fun, the Narrow Gauge train cars are taking some time off to be ready for children traveling on the "Polar Express" to see Santa (wink, wink).