Portland Downtown events get a “green & clean” makeover


Portland, Maine – Portland Downtown will be launching “green & clean” initiatives for Summer Kickoff Weekend, which is scheduled for June 9th – June 11th and includes the Old Port Festival. The goal of the initiatives is to limit exposure to second hand smoke, and reduce the carbon footprint of the festival.

Portland Downtown’s mission is to maintain a clean, safe, and vibrant business, residential, and tourism destination. While the Old Port Festival is steeped in tradition, Portland Downtown strives to increasingly reflect its organizational values in all of its programs, services, and events.  The improvements to this year’s festival are in partnership with the City of Portland’s Public Health Division, Maine Green Power, METRO, and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

As part of Portland Downtown’s new initiatives, Old Port Festival will be a smoke and tobacco-free zone. The zone encompasses the entire geographic footprint of the Old Port Festival, and will be in effect on Sunday, June 11th during festival hours, which are 11:00am to 5:00pm.  Smoking and the use of electronic vaping devices is prohibited.  This is a new addition to the festival, and enforcement will be provided by festival security by educating tobacco users on the new rule and asking them to stop or relocate to outside the festival zone.

According to Anne Lang, Tobacco Prevention Program Coordinator for the City of Portland’s Public Health Division, “Tobacco is still the number one cause of preventable death and disease, both in the United States and worldwide, and the only way to fully protect nonsmokers is to eliminate tobacco use in all public places.  The Old Port Festival going 100% smoke and tobacco-free is a huge win in the fight for clean air.”

The second part of this initiative is the purchase of green energy for the Old Port Festival music stages. Renewable power for this event has been made possible courtesy of Maine Green Power. You can learn more about Maine Green Power by visiting their table in Tommy’s Park on Exchange Street during event hours.

Portland Downtown seeks to bring awareness to the public health benefits of being smoke-free and the importance of seeking renewable energy alternatives through these collaborative partnerships. Casey Gilbert, Executive Director notes that, “Portland Downtown’s green & clean initiatives are an effort to provide a healthier, more sustainable event for all. With Summer Kick-Off Weekend attracting more and more people and families, we are constantly trying to improve the event through quality programming, so why not have thoughtful policies as well?”

The final piece of Portland Downtown’s green & clean initiatives is to provide transportation alternatives for festival-goers. Through a partnership with METRO, the entire bus system will be free starting at 4pm on Friday, June 9th through Sunday, June 11th. Providing free bus rides is an effort to encourage people to leave their cars at home and take public transit. As well, Portland Downtown will be providing free bicycle valet in partnership with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. All of these details and more are available at portlandmaine.com.

“Reducing the number of vehicles on the road during Summer Kickoff Weekend will reduce traffic congestion as well as fossil fuel consumption. We hope that many people will take advantage of free METRO rides and free bike valet as an alternative to hopping in the car to come downtown for our awesome events”, said Gilbert. “Many people may be trying METRO for the first time, and that is truly exciting! “

For questions about the smoke- and tobacco-free initiative, please contact the City of Portland’s Tobacco Prevention Program Coordinator: act@portlandmaine.gov. For questions about Maine Green Power, please contact Kay Mann with Maine Green Power: kmann@3degreesinc.com. For questions about Summer Kickoff Weekend, including Old Port Festival, please contact Casey Gilbert with Portland Downtown: casey@portlandmaine.com.