Sierra Fahrman – daughter of the late Kevin Fahrman, the Valentine Bandit – and others are carrying on his tradition by creating a foundation and hosting a charity event on Wednesday at Rising Tide to benefit local causes. “The Valentine’s Day hearts have become such a symbol of Portland, to the values that people in our town hold,” Fahrman said. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The Valentine’s Day Bandit tradition of hanging large red hearts on buildings and landmarks all over Portland is expected to live on, even as the family of a former leader of the annual effort launches a charitable foundation to honor him.

Kevin Fahrman’s family identified him as the Valentine’s Day Bandit after he died in April 2023 at age 67, partially lifting the veil off a long-running local mystery.

Kevin Fahrman Contributed photo/Patti Urban

Fahrman didn’t start the tradition, but he joined the effort in 1979, his family said, and in recent years organized the group of volunteers who would go out overnight and attach the universal symbol of love to various buildings throughout the city and its environs. Portlanders would rise on Valentine’s Day to find the red hearts all over downtown and displayed in hard-to-reach places like church steeples and Fort Gorges in Portland Harbor.

Sierra Fahrman, his daughter, said she is honoring her father’s wishes of keeping secret the details of exactly how the tradition will continue, including who is involved and the logistics of planning how and where to hang the stealthy hearts.

“I’m confident it will continue,” Fahrman said. “I believe there is a new ringleader, because there has to be someone who does the heavy lifting of organizing.”

But Fahrman, 23, is helping to take the effort a step further, beyond hanging up the hearts, by starting The Fahrman Foundation. Details on the group can be found at, which also makes available the classic heart poster to be printed for those who want to join in the tradition on their own. A fundraiser for the foundation will be held Wednesday from 5-8 p.m. at Rising Tide brewery in Portland.


Fahrman is proud of the legacy her father left, and said the foundation will benefit charitable causes her dad was involved in, including SailMaine, RippleEffect, Friends of Fort Gorges and the Maine Academy of Modern Music.

“The Valentine’s Day hearts have become such a symbol of Portland, to the values that people in our town hold,” Fahrman said. “The idea of the bandit is so special to Portland, and I don’t think it could happen in many other places. My dad used to call Portland a village with tall buildings.”

Kevin Fahrman, of Falmouth, was a photographer and amateur musician who enjoyed doing things for others anonymously, said his longtime friend, Kathrin Williams.

“He was an amazingly giving person,” Williams said. “Putting up these hearts was just one of many things he did for everyone he knew.”

Williams said she knew Fahrman was the bandit for decades – and for a while even helped with hanging the hearts – but she kept it a secret, “even from my husband.” Scaling walls to hang hearts overnight was just part of her friend’s DNA, she said.

Obit-Valentine Bandit

The Valentine’s Day bandit strikes Portland on Feb. 14, 2020, with a heart banner on the Portland Public Library. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“It was kind of like Santa Claus,” Williams said. “Nobody needed to see him, but the results were always there in the morning on Valentine’s Day. He didn’t want any recognition for it. He just wanted to do it.”

Sierra Fahrman said her dad would be “baffled” by the public’s response to the bandit, and the resulting publicity “would seem really crazy to him.”

“What it comes down to is February is one of people’s least favorite months weather-wise,” Fahrman said. “It’s gray, cold and dreary, and the snow is brown and muddy, and this provides a bright red color to cut through the gloom. People look forward to it because it brightens the town and their day.”


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