Dozens of spectators gathered at three locations overlooking Portland Harbor on Thursday afternoon to watch a floating tribute to the Falmouth man who brought an extra level of cheer and kindness to the city each Valentine’s Day for decades.

Kevin Fahrman worked secretly, coordinating efforts to hang hundreds of red paper hearts throughout the city on Valentine’s Day. Each Feb. 14, Portland residents would wake to find hearts posted on landmarks, buildings, storefront windows, walls, sidewalks and benches, some of them seemingly almost impossible to get to.

Who he was remained a tightly guarded secret until April, when his wife, Patti Urban, revealed his identity following his death at the age of 67. More than 600 people attended his celebration of life, according to his daughter Sierra Fahrman.

On Thursday, on what would have been Fahrman’s 68th birthday, his family and friends organized the “Be A Kevin” boat parade in his honor.

“We are not doing this to draw attention to ourselves,” Sierra Fahrman said. “It’s a way for the people who knew him to celebrate his life.”

One of those people was Annie Darling of Cape Elizabeth, who brought her friend, Maggie Paul of Santa Cruz, California, to the granite steps of Bug Light, the 1875 lighthouse that the South Portland park is named after. Several dozen people watched the parade from the park.


Darling said she has known Kevin and his family since the 1990s. But she only found out recently that he was the bandit who led the effort to spread love and joy on Valentine’s Day. When she found out, she was not surprised.

“He was a beautiful soul,” Darling said. “He was always cheerful, helpful to others and he always had a smile on his face.”

Darling, Paul and another of Fahrman’s fans, Cindy Young of Old Orchard Beach, stood on the highest block of the lighthouse foundation as the boats passed by. They held their arms above their heads in the shape of a heart during the procession.

Specators hold up Valentine Day bandit hearts as they watch the “Be a Kevin” memorial boat parade on the birthday of Valentine’s Day bandit Kevin Fahrman at the Eastern Prom on Thursday. Fahrman passed away on April 20. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Young said the world needs more people like Fahrman. He stood out by spreading positive energy and goodwill in a world in which such things seem to be in increasingly short supply.

Cheryl Bartram and her husband, Sean, recently moved back to Portland after living in the Tampa Bay area for nearly three decades, and they never knew Fahrman.

But they stood on the Bug Light steps Thursday afternoon and watched the boats go by.


“We haven’t actually experienced the Valentine’s Day Bandit, but we’ve heard of him. What he did was pretty cool,” she said.

The parade got underway at 4:45 p.m. as about 25 watercraft of all shapes and sizes left SailMaine, a community sailing center on the Eastern Promenade, and set course for House Island. Each boat had a heart affixed in honor of Fahrman.

The parade took the boats past Fort Allen Park on Portland’s Eastern Promenade, Bug Light Park in South Portland, and Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.

The lead boat, Juniata, took just over an hour to circle back around Fort Gorges, which had a giant heart draped over one wall, before returning to SailMaine around 5:49 p.m.

Through the years, Fahrman would head into Casco Bay, sometimes in the middle of the night, to hang the heart on Fort Gorges. It was one of several locations that prompted head-scratching over how on earth he did it.

“The Be A Kevin hearts were sort of a gift to the community, as well as a way to bring light to this difficult day, and a reminder that just because he’s not with us, his legacy is not forgotten,” Sierra Fahrman said.


“The message to ‘Be A Kevin’ is one that many of his close friends shared after his passing, noting that there aren’t a lot of genuine people who carry so many good traits that my dad did in the world, and that everyone could afford to lead their lives a bit more like him.

“I hope that message resonates with Portland, and beyond, which I don’t doubt it will, given the countless stories I have heard from people who didn’t know him, but were touched by his acts of kindness,” she said.

In a final act of remembrance, his daughter spent Wednesday night posting “Be A Kevin” hearts in various Portland locations throughout downtown and the Old Port. Some of the photos were posted to Portland Downtown’s Facebook page.

“Portland is the luckiest city in the world to get to claim you and your full-hearted tradition,” Portland Downtown wrote in a post. “You are missed today and always.”

In his obituary, his family wrote, “For decades, this mysterious figure warmed the hearts of the city by placing hundreds of red paper hearts on storefronts and notable landmarks, and huge banners in unexpected places. Kevin’s simple yet powerful gesture brought joy and love to the community, reminding us all to cherish our loved ones and treasure the place we call home.”

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