November certainly was a busy month in Bridgton. The woods were filled with optimistic deer hunters, we had a visit from Senator Angus King, and the first annual 3rd Friday Bridgton Bar Crawl was a huge success. I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving with friends and family. Please think about our needier friends and neighbors during the holiday season; there are many local churches and nonprofits in Bridgton that would be extremely grateful for your generosity.

Quaffs and Kings

Friday, Nov. 22, might go down as the most fun night of 2013 in Bridgton, as both the Bar Crawl and Chamber Awards dinner coincided. Senator Angus King was the featured speaker at the Chamber Dinner, and the bar crawl had been buzzed about for months, leading to a major scheduling conflict for many local Bridgtonians. Well, they made do, because rumor has it that once the Chamber Dinner ended several of the key players hit the town and “crashed” the bar crawl…now that’s what you call a social whirl!

With six local bars and restaurants participating, and shuttles circling town driving everyone safely, the bar crawl was a great success. Gamboling groups of revelers dressed in wacky costumes and turkey hats, stopping by all the participating businesses for free snacks and special cocktails. It was also a lucrative night for the event recipient, the Bridgton Fuel Collaborative, which provides emergency fuel assistance for low-income locals. Once the total expenses are tallied, the pub crawl expects to donate $1,000 to this wonderful nonprofit. Thanks to everyone who helped support this fun event, and for being responsible and taking the free shuttles!

Congratulations go to the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce too for scoring such a high-profile speaker for their annual event. Not only was town buzzing about King’s arrival, but 130 people gathered to hear Sen. King regale the crowd with what the Chamber’s Sue Mercer described as “a humorous and very entertaining speech that wasn’t overly political.”

Congratulations to Small Business Owner of the Year Main Eco-Homes and Justin McIver, Businessman and beloved volunteer Mike Tarantino, Community Volunteers Carl and Jane Talbot and Nonprofit of the Year Fryeburg Business Association and Director Donna Woodward. There was also a Special Presidents Award bestowed by departing Chamber President Ken Murphy to Pie Tree Orchards and Naomi King, recognizing their generous community outreach and special events.

Shine a Light

Bridgton is radiant during the holidays, with the streets festooned with lights and the shops along Main Street resplendent in decorations. Gather your family together on Saturday, Dec. 7, for the annual Festival of Lights, as a candlelight processional strolls along Main Street to watch the parade. It’s a beautiful sight to see parade floats at night, lit up against the dark sky with participants signing carols.

Then join Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the Bridgton Community Center for snacks and games. This is a wonderful, family-friendly festival that in its 10th year is a Lakes Region classic.

Feed Your Neighbors

As most of us stare at plates of leftovers and give thanks for the abundance of Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are many among us who do not know where their next meal will come from. In Bridgton as many as 90 families a week receive food donated by the Bridgton Food Pantry at the Methodist Church. This all-volunteer organization led by Deb Davenport, director of the Bridgton Food Pantry, and Diana Whitehouse, Bridgton Food Pantry board member, orders, salvages and purchases food and supplies to meet this weekly challenge. They coordinate and oversee amazing volunteers, determine food distribution, arrange for pickup and manage all of the paperwork.

Then every Tuesday 100 to-go bag lunches are provided by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church between 10:30 and 10:45. The food is usually gone by noon. Food is not the only need; other items needed are coffee, paper goods and personal hygiene items.

As you are thinking about your seasonal giving, please consider a check to the Bridgton Food Pantry. All donations are gratefully received including purchased items. However, the BFP is able to purchase food at 16 cents per pound. Before you purchase a can of something for $1.29, consider how many pounds can be purchased if the BFP had that $1.29. When you make a financial contribution to the Bridgton Food Pantry, you know that 100 percent of that money is spent on providing food to your neighbors, friends and maybe even family. Make your check payable to “Bridgton Food Pantry” and mail to 214 Main St., Bridgton 04009. Your donation is tax deductible. At 16 cents per pound $10 can go a long way.

Sen. Angus King, D-Maine, was the featured speaker at last week’s annual awards banquet for the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.The Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce announced its annual award winners at the recent annual banquet. From left are Small Business of the Year owner Justin McIver of Maine Eco Homes, Volunteers of the Year Jane and Carl Talbot, Businessman of the Year Mike Tarantino, the chamber’s Executive Director Barbara Clark, Donna Woodard of Fryeburg Business Association, which was Nonprofit Organization of the Year, chamber President Ken Murphy and Pie Tree Orchard’s Naomi King, seated, who received a special president’s award.

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