Auld Lang Syne

Begging the pardon of my fellow Scot (and far better poet) Robert Burns, I would like to bid a fond farewell to 2008 and wish all of my acquaintances, new and old, brighter days ahead. If anything, the past year has proven to us just how fragile the bonds are that hold our world together, and how priceless the love and support of our friends and neighbors is.

As the “Age of Excess” came to a grinding halt this year with the financial collapse, we saw how important it is to have a strong community that comes together when times get tough. Bridgton (and all of the Lakes Region) is full of kindhearted, selfless citizens who always seem to be there to lend a hand. I am happy to have met many of these key players (you know who you are) and am inspired by their tireless enthusiasm and commitment.

As Burns said in his famous poem:

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!

And give us a hand o’ thine !

And we’ll take a right good-will draught,

for Auld Lang Syne.

Happy New Year everybody, and cheers to a wonderful 2009.

Winter wonderland

Would whomever is out there praying for snow ease up a little bit, please? We got our white Christmas, I have already paid to have my driveway shoveled twice and it has only officially been winter for one week. I thought we paid our dues last year, for heaven’s sake. However, if you are a snow bunny who delights in the white stuff, might I suggest checking out the 25th annual

Ullr Fest!

That’s right, this year marks a quarter century of celebrating the Norse God of Winter up at Shawnee Peak. As the legend goes, by receiving alms of ritual fire the god Ullr rewards skiers with smooth slopes of abundant powder all season long. This year’s Fest will be on Monday, Dec. 29 at the Base Lodge, with mountaintop fireworks beginning at 7 pm.

As hundreds of celebrants pray for snow, Ullr himself will descend from the peak in full Nordic regalia as a parade of supplicants trail behind him bearing torches of fire and beating the tribal drums.

After an invocation by the “god,” everyone will convene at Blizzards Pub for a free show by Pete “the Viking” Finkle. There will also be prizes to win, including skis and a snowboard. As an added bonus, lift tickets will only be $14 all night long, and the forecast is looking great for primo ski conditions.

Ullr Fest is free and open to the public, so dress up in your warmest Nordic garb, hoist a pint of mead and join the party. For more information call Shawnee at 647-8444 or check out www.shawnee

One from the vault

Here’s a perfect gift for for everyone who lives here, summers here or simply loves our town. Local historian and author Ned Allen has published Bridgton, a treasure trove of archived photographs and text from days of old, including the original mills, inns and stores that thrived throughout the 19th century and the people who first settled here.

Allen has long been active in the local preservation scene, and is president of the Bridgton Historical Society at Narramissic. His 128-page book is available from the Society and local booksellers and is full classic images of Bridgton.

Proceeds from the sale of Bridgton will help fund local preservation projects, so this is a great way to give a unique gift and support the cause of local history at the same time. For more information call the Society at 647-3699 or e-mail [email protected]

First come, first served

Who will be Bridgton’s first-born baby of 2009? In the long-standing tradition at Bridgton Hospital of honoring the first baby born at the hospital in the New Year, “Baby Watch 2009” begins at midnight Jan. 1.

The lucky child who arrives first will be showered with gifts from local merchants, and the hospital is looking for local businesses that would like to include a gift for the family. Shopkeepers interested in joining this fun part of ringing in the New Year are asked to contact Pamela Smith in the community relations and development office at 647-6055 or [email protected] All donations will be recognized when the New Year’s baby and family are announced and featured in a press releases and photographs early next year.

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