“Free Prayer”! My 9-year-old grandson and I noticed people with these signs while walking through Monument Square one recent Saturday. It was our annual visit to Portland for lunch, a “Magic of Christmas” performance, a horse wagon ride and enjoying the sights and lights of the season. It’s a day we anticipate all year.

Two people holding signs smiled as we walked by. We passed them again (after lunch in the Public Market House) and they had been joined by another man.

As we continued on our way, this person loudly called to me, swearing and saying: “You could at least give us some money.”

My grandson asked why the man yelled at me. How do you explain rude “adult” behavior? We discussed reasons the man might ask for money. “Well, Grammie, why doesn’t he get a job?”

I find the idea of “capitalizing” on prayer offensive (no sign indicated a church affiliation). I believe our right to walk down a street without a hassle was violated. People have the right to stand with signs anywhere and look for handouts; I should also have the right to walk and drive through Portland without unprovoked confrontation.

Do I give money? I give to reputable agencies rather than individuals. Did I have money? Yes, to pay for parking and a treat on the way home; I’d saved for this day. Did I reply? No; I chose not to risk provoking unpredictable behavior.

Portland is a fantastic city, but I am embarrassed, intimidated and threatened by individuals on corners, groups in parks and verbally aggressive individuals. Visitor-friendly? Not!

I am the host for at least 30 photographers coming to Portland from around the country next fall. They will be spending time and money in Portland. This is not the Portland experience I want for them.

Patricia Garrett

Hollis