It’s been a long year and a half. We’ve had to hunker down in quarantine, learn to wear masks everywhere we go, and keep our distance from loved ones. Aside from those we lost during the pandemic, we also lost our sense of connectivity and community with one another.

Local, family focused events prior to the pandemic, brought us together organically. There is something about seeing your extended neighbors that makes you appreciate where you live. It grounds you, connects you, and lifts your spirit.

According to the CDC, being outside, where social distancing is easier, reduces the chance of spreading or catching the virus. The breeze disperses airborne virus particles and sunlight has been found to help reduce spread as well. Moreover, with high vaccination numbers in Maine, we have even more of an opportunity to resume some of our previous activities that resembles a greater sense of normalcy. While we can’t lower our guard, smaller, outdoor events returning this summer, seem to be a great way to safely to get out of the house and engage with our neighbors again.

Saco Main Street, our downtown revitalization organization, has been working on modified versions of our annual events.

We kick off our event schedule this Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Saco Dog Park near Fairfield School with a very special version of Bark in the Park. This will be in the honor and memory of K-9 Champ, who served over 10 years with the Maine State Police and Saco’s own, Trooper Jeremy Forbes, who served 25 years with the State Police. Champ was an amazing companion and helped law enforcement with numerous cases. There will be booths with various pet organizations and activities for our four-legged family members with proceeds benefiting improvements to the park.

The Saco Sidewalk Arts Festival will, among other things, include a vaccination station tent, coordinated by our Saco Bay Rotary club, to administer shots to anyone who like one. The date is Saturday, June 26th. The Annual Saco Car Show is still a go set for Saturday, July 24th in our historic downtown.

Music in the (Dyer Library/Saco Museum) Parking Lot, a new local favorite, is back! A number of musical acts are booked for Thursdays at 6 p.m. between July 8th and Aug. 12th. We’ll have acts like Trevor & Company, Opera Maine Teens, and even Elvis makes an appearance, and attendance is free.

In Old Orchard Beach, the Scottish Festival returns this Saturday in Veterans Memorial Park from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday night fireworks begin June 24th. The 17th annual Capt. Christopher Cash Memorial 5K is happening June 26th to benefit college scholarships at OOB High School to honor Cash’s memory and service. To register, visit The annual Beach Olympics, benefiting the Special Olympics Maine, is being worked on to return Aug. 19th – 21st. The Old Orchard Beach Chamber is helping put together another annual car show Sept. 17th – 18th. For the full calendar of events in OOB, you can visit the chamber’s website at

Over in Hollis, something you might not know, they normally have an annual festival featuring swashbuckling pirates. A Pirate Festival? Yes please. It’s a fun event filled with activities for the kiddos, free music, and good food. The festival is well known in Hollis, but it’s a hidden gem more folks should know about. The event is back on this summer. As usual, I will be emceeing this event in full pirate costume and all the proceeds benefit afterschool and summer programs at Hollis Parks & Recreation. It’s scheduled for Saturday Aug. 14th and the full schedule can be found at

This isn’t an extensive list and any details are subject to change, but it’s great news to see so many events safely return to our area. As we hopefully navigate out of this pandemic as more and more individuals get vaccinated, I’m looking forward to connecting with one another again. It’s good for the soul and for society.

Justin Chenette is the former state senator for the Saco-OOB area. He is currently a scholarship program director, mayoral appointee on the Saco Long-Range Planning Committee, member of the Saco Main Street Board of Directors, and author of the children’s book “The Great Whoopie Pie Debate.” Learn more at

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