Taylor Hamlin, a June graduate of Oceanside High School, was ousted as the Rockland Lobster Festival’s Maine Sea Goddess because of photos she had posted on social media. Beth A. Birmingham/The Courier-Gazette

ROCKLAND — The 2018 Maine Sea Goddess was forced to step down less than 24 hours after she was crowned because of photos she posted on social media that were forwarded to Maine Lobster Festival organizers.

Taylor Hamlin said she strenuously tried to convince the festival officials that the photos did not warrant her stepping down, but said that they insisted that she sign a resignation agreement.

One of the photos was from more than a year ago and showed Hamlin holding a joint. Another from a few days ago showed her holding a Juul, a device for vaping. The 18-year-old graduated from Oceanside High School in June and will be attending the University of Maine in the fall.

Hamlin said she could not have been more honored and delighted Wednesday night to represent her community. On Thursday morning, she went on a tour of the USS Hue City and detected some tension with Coronation Director Sharon Lombardo.

Lombardo then informed her that she needed to meet with officials and was told they had an issue with her social media posts. She was told that people in the community had forwarded the posts to the festival.

Later in the day, Hamlin was told she needed to step down. She was told she could keep the prize money and could continue in the role throughout the festival, but would then need to sign a document saying she could no longer fulfill the duties.

The Sea Goddess position lasts until the next coronation.

“But I said I could fulfill the duties,” Hamlin said. She also said she told them the money was not the issue.

Hamlin said she was made to feel like she had done something disgusting, but that she had done nothing that many other young people haven’t done. Her mother, Cindi Hamlin, said the family was so thrilled about the announcement and recalled the number of years their family has spent volunteering at the festival.

“We will not be doing that any more,” she said.

Lombardo would not comment other than reading the brief statement she said Hamlin signed saying she “was resigning because she was not able to fulfill the duties.”

Maine Lobster Festival President Cynthia Powell and representative Shannon Kinney reiterated Lombardo’s comments.

“There is no way to do the pageant again,” Kinney said, explaining the Crown Princess – Erin Dugan – would step into the role of Sea Goddess and there would be no Crown Princess this year.

“It was a really difficult decision,” Kinney said. “Somebody made a decision, and we’re all going to have to deal with it I guess.”

When asked about social media’s role in the whole picture, Kinney said it was a fair question.

“Social media does play into these things, and I think it’s important for people to understand that their presence on social media has an impact,” Kinney said.

filed under: