June 16, 2013

Deirdre Fleming: In step with fun in Portland

For two of the past four years, Outside magazine has named Portland one of the most livable outdoor cities in the country.

TO LEARN MORE about The Dance Mile, go to www.thedancemile.com.

But Will Thomas at Tri-Maine and Patrick Hackleman at Casco Bay Sports know better.

The two young Portland entrepreneurs, who are in the business of putting on hip, high-energy adventure races, say it's also a city that loves to groove.

So together they are staging Portland's first-of-its-kind mobile dance party July 13.

Hackleman, owner of Casco Bay Sports, and Thomas, founder and director of Tri-Maine, say that Portland's love of fun makes it the perfect venue for The Dance Mile.

The event will be a parade with a rolling DJ who leads dancers and revelers from Monument Square down Center Street, then up Free Street to the Portland Museum of Art, and down Congress Street and back to Monument Square. There, the dance party will rage and spill into Binga's Stadium for an after-party.

"This world needs more fun. That's how we kind of came to the conclusion to do something that was sort of so out-there and totally different," Thomas said.

The Dance Mile will be a party as much as a parade, about moving as much as running. It is a celebration of Maine's biggest outdoor city.

"We wanted to combine something we all love to do: Work out, dancing and partying after," Hackleman said.

The only competition inherent in the event, Thomas said, will be in one-upping fellow dancers with a zany costume, or possibly out-dancing them.

"But even that is about hilarious fun," he said.

Both Hackleman and Thomas have seen success with outdoor events. Hackleman's Bradbury-12 mountain bike race at Bradbury Mountain State Park draws riders from across the East Coast. Thomas' Urban Epic Triathlon has had participants come from beyond New England, as well.

"I would say I had some inspiration from Bay to Breakers in San Francisco. It's a 7-mile race that has about 30,000 to 40,000 runners, and another 70,000 who show up in costumes to parade behind it. This is in the spirit of that," Thomas said. "Portland is a very unique place, and the kind of place that likes to embrace this kind of thing."

The proceeds of The Dance Mile also will fund something equally unique.

The money raised will fund a work of public art to be displayed in a visible place in Portland that will, again, celebrate the city.

The hope, Thomas said, is that between 800 and 1,000 dancers and merry revelers will join The Dance Mile.

"We both were feeling the time is right to do something pretty ridiculous because the city of Portland is a great place to do it. The people here love to have a good time. There are a lot of races, and a lot of opportunity to go out and be competitive. We wanted to do something that is straight-up fun," Thomas said.

Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

dfleming@pressherald.com

 

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