Gabe Gregoire

Gabe Gregoire

Burnin' and Learnin'

Did you know that the big bronze woman with the sword in Monument Square is called Our Lady of Victories, also Soldiers and Sailors Monument? Or that the sculptor, a man born in Webster in the 19th century named Franklin Simmons, also has a statue of Ulysses S. Grant in the United States Capitol Rotunda? How would you like to learn tidbits like these about the Square and other areas in and around the Old Port, all while feeling the burn of a full-body strength and cardio workout?


The unusual combination is the brainchild of fitness instructor Leigh Rush Olson, the founder of Old Port Historic Workout and its sister, Kennebunk Beach Historic Workout. Olson got the idea in 1997 in New York City as a way to combine her history education with her training experience, and would lead groups of curious athletes in mobile workouts while telling them about the city’s ethnohistory. The Maine versions are in their first year.


Old Port Historic Workouts take place on Saturdays at 10 a.m., meeting in Monument Square, where participants will be led in ninety minutes of exercise, followed by a jogging tour with stops at Portland’s most intriguing sites, with anecdotes about each. Tickets are $30 at and all levels of expertise are welcome.


Kennebunk Beach Historic Workouts are Tuesday mornings at 9 a.m., to convene at Mothers Beach. This one’s a little easier on the pocketbook, at $10 per person. Olson and her staff remind you to bring your own mat (or towel) and water bottle. She also says she engineered the double meaning in the titles of her events on purpose, and looks forward to helping you achieve a truly ‘historic workout.’



  • Published in Sports

Last Chance Railroad

Portlanders who live paycheck to paycheck, and have friends and relatives who have to move to Westbrook or farther because their in-town living situation has changed and nothing is open to the poor in Portland, those residents might have a sour view of the gentrification and development our city is currently undergoing. On the other hand, people who have a little extra on hand might be happy that the place is getting better-looking. However you feel about it, Portland is changing.

In the Eastern Prom area will take place at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum (58 Fore St). After this year, they are moving most of their operations to Gray.  Although the museum's getting relocated, there will still be ice cream trains, pumpkin trains, and season operations for 7 more years. But in 2024, they'll be gone from the historic property. 

Runners, walkers , and beachgoers who frequent the Prom have a good idea of the route of the narrow-gauge train. From their base near the ferry terminal, to near where the Eastern Prom Trail intersects with the Back Cove loop, across the inlet from B&M. And back, of course. The ice cream is what makes it more than just another hour on your device while the sights slide past. Point out Fort Gorges to your kids while they try to catch the drips from their cones. 

Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum:

  • Published in Kids

The Dog Days Are Here

Parks and Rec. No, not everybody’s favorite binge watch, as much as we love Poehler and Offerman, but Wells Parks and Recreation, right down the road. There is a park with a pavilion on their property at 412 Branch Road in Wells (Rte 9A), and they are holding “The Dog Days of Summer” there on Friday, July 28 from 3 to 7 p.m. As you’ve already guessed, the dogs in question are not figurative; it is a festival of all things canine, to which families with dogs are happily invited.


Aside from the fun of frolicking with your pup and others, Dog Days of Summer offers a lot more. Available services and sources of information include free nail trimming from Fetch n’ Fun; toys, food, and other pet accoutrements for sale from Coles Corner, Wells Clothing Outfit, Renee’s Pet Gift Shop, and that great bunch of folks at Love Wally, the site we get our doggie goggles from (hey, we’re dog people, got a problem?); not to mention the soothing presence of Emery Santerre, DVM from Wells Dog and Cat Hospital. Best of all, at 6 p.m. those who exercise with their dogs are welcome to join the 5K Dog Walk.


Of course, some of us have not yet entered the new, bigger world that is dog ownership, or have lost a beloved and are currently without a canine companion. Don’t worry. The Animal Welfare Society (46 Holland Rd, Kennebunk) hasn’t forgotten you. Open your heart to the future and go look into adopting one of their fine animals. Dogs will be adoptable from 3 to 5:30 p.m.


Asking yourself, why not do both the Dog Days and the brand new friend? Indeed!


Event website:

  • Published in Pets

Nine Pizzas Around the Sun

Most readers will remember when the International Astronomical Union got together in 2006, consulted whatever oracles of science they hold dear, and told the rest of us that the planet Pluto had officially been demoted to ‘dwarf planet’ status. Depending on your age and interests at the time, the news item was anything from a major upheaval in your knowledge set, to a quirky two-minute phase in that season’s dinner conversation.


But if you feel nostalgic for poor Pluto and want to show your kids a space explorer who gives it the proper respect (as in, the show’s production predates the demotion), fly down to Rusty Rocket’s Last Blast! at USM’s Southworth Planetarium (70 Falmouth St.) on Thursday, July 13 at 11 a.m. Tickets are $5.50, with fifty cents off for seniors and children, and they include a Night Sky Tour presentation in addition to the animated program.


The basic premise is that Rusty and his young Rocket Rookies go on a space voyage from the sun to each planet in turn, featuring the latest telescope and probe images of all nine planets from the old mnemonic, “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.” And, when you think about it, the eight-planet mnemonic we have now is sort of a demotion too, food-wise: “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Noodles.” You might have to order OTTO in Pluto’s honor. Go old-school.


For even more astronomical fun, go back to Southworth on the following Thursday at the same time of day for The Little Star that Could, a dome show about, of course, a star, who hasn’t been named yet and travels the galaxy to earn his title, meanwhile taking viewers on a tour of all the star types, from white dwarfs to red giants. The immersive nature of the full-dome experience goes far toward doing justice to the visual majesty of celestial bodies. Incidentally, some scientists are pushing to demote certain nebulae to “Minor Gas Cloud” status. But don’t worry, we hear that those are the same guys from the flat-earth camp. Horsehead is safe for now.


Rusty Rocket’s Last Blast!:

The Little Star that Could:

  • Published in Kids

A Mile of Smiles

Everyone knows what social media is. But have you heard of social fitness? It’s a thing. The original definition of the term, referring to the effectiveness and ease with which a person is able to use social skills, is gradually being usurped by a new meaning, combining the ‘social’ part of social media (meeting people, staying in touch with friends and family, and networking) with actual physical fitness. Think flash mob with an emphasis on physical movement.


More specifically, in the case of The Dance Mile on Saturday, July 15, well, you can guess from the title, but yes, an emphasis on dancing. The Dance Mile is a nationally touring phenomenon involving a gathering of hundreds of people for a festival-atmosphere registration period with a vendor village and professional dance acts, then a Zumba warm-up followed by 5,280 feet of mobile-DJ-curated nonstop grooving along closed-off streets (starting at Federal and Temple Streets and winding around the Old Port), all capped off by a sponsored post-dance party. The beneficiary for Portland’s Dance Mile is EqualityMaine. Check out the particulars and register at


Adult tickets are $42.14 after fees, and children are $13.65. You get an official bib, some other swag, and the chance to get in on the ground floor of what might just become a household term: social fitness. Organizers stress the importance of wearing comfortable clothing and shoes, and, this is of vast importance, forgetting about any shyness you may harbor around dancing in front of peers. At The Dance Mile, no one is ever looking!


  • Published in Sports

The Other Conversation

It’s the other conversation every parent has to have with their teen, and it’s pretty close in importance to the one about the birds and the bees. That little plastic card that the state chooses to let a youngster carry around after they’ve taken the course and passed the test, that changes a youth’s life, and it certainly changes a parent’s. The first time a teenager asks for the car and doesn’t ask for a caretaker to ride along, horrible visions of accidents (and worse) can flood the adult mind, raising blood pressure and tempting a parent to say, “You can drive alone when you buy your own car,” or something equally emotional and senseless.


But you think: Will they remember to check the blind spot? Will they see every stop sign? Will I get a midnight call from a sheriff or a hospital?


To reduce the ability of such questions to plague you, tell your young permit or license holder about Ford Driving Skills for Life, to be held at the Brunswick Executive Airport (15 Terminal Rd.) with a total of four complete sessions over July 15 and 16. Register for the free, hands-on (vehicles provided) class at and go bolster your kid’s driving skills. Key areas to be covered include hazard recognition, vehicle handling, speed, and space management, which together constitute critical factors in 60 percent of all vehicle accidents. A comprehensive section on "distracted and impaired driving" will also be taught.


Ford encourages parents/caregivers to attend with their kids, and even to ride along with them and the instructor. The idea is to increase every family’s collective knowledge of the road and their vehicle’s relation to it. Parents are reminded to always (without exception) set a good driving example, and to allow teens to actively participate in any discussion about driving rather than having them sit and listen to a lecture. At Driving Skills for Life, you’ll both learn something new. And hey, if your kid doesn’t come up with a plan with their crew for after the class, hang around in Brunswick a little longer and hit Frontier!

  • Published in Kids

What's In a Name?

Dog people: Turn off your Hootsuite, tout de suite. The Phoenix is telling you about this one early, because it’s one of those things where you hit your peeps up for pledges, do the thing, and it amounts to writing a big fat check to an org you really love.


Up to now, it has been called the Paws for a Cause 5K and Festival, to raise money for Coastal Humane Society and Lincoln County Animal Shelter. However, at some point last year, those fine folks received an email that was not immediately litigious but said, in essence, “That’s our trademark, please cease and desist.” Thus, for 2017 and beyond, we have the illustrious Save a Stray 5K & Festival, to take place on Saturday, August 26, the route to begin and end at L.L.Bean’s Flagship Store (95 Main St, Freeport) and skirt their campus and go through part of downtown Freeport. If you haven’t been up lately, schedule it now, get registered at and use it as an excuse to cruise the outlets. Or simply write it off under ‘networking expenses.’ The truth is, dog people don’t have to do either, because it’s all about reducing the suffering and increasing the quality of life for many, many pooches, pups and persons-of-fur.


Even the uninitiated can tell it’s a great party, because not only can your own dog come, but what would be waiting for you at the finish line but a meow-mosa or a drooly Mary? Not to mention fun for the kids (Vet for a Day, among other things), demonstrations, and, in another departure from last year, a Worst in Show competition. So brave the wild, with your animal.

  • Published in Pets

One Festival Your Body Should Attend

There are some things you can do in life that turn out to be transformative. For many Mainers, the practice of yoga is one of them. As daunting as the discipline can seem for newcomers, chances are that it has already deeply touched the life of someone you know, who will tell you that the transition between knowing next to nothing and the time when you look back and say, “What was I waiting for,” can be a relatively painless one. One friend of the Phoenix tells us that after practicing yoga for only sixteen months, he feels more a part of life on earth and, if not less stressed, better able to handle tensions in a constructive way.


All this is to encourage wannabe yogis to step over the threshold between thinking about it to trying it out, at the Maine YogaFest, happening at the East End Community School (195 North St) the weekend of July 7 to July 9. Experienced yoga practitioners, of course, are also welcome to participate, share and learn. Get tickets and build your schedule at .


This year’s event promises to be the best yet. Original founders of Maine YogaFest,  Justine Carlisle, Dana Woodbury and Regan Johnson, have teamed with the all-women training group sheJAMs (their riverside boot camp 5K was featured recently in these pages) to offer yoga workshops and lectures that run the gamut of incarnations of the ancient art form, from “Rock and Flow Extravaganza” to “Aerial Yoga” to the chill “Easy Like Sunday Morning.”


In line with their shared philosophy of keeping Portland’s economy thriving, MYF and sheJAMs promise inspiring live local music, wholesome food, and local vendors throughout the weekend. We encourage experienced yogis who are planning to attend, to bring a friend or family member who could use a little unblocking. They will be in good company, and you will both head into the following week feeling relaxed and energized. Transformation, with commitment, is certainly not out of the question.


  • Published in Sports

Like a Day of the Best Streaming Video

On Monday, the weather forecast for Saturday, July 1 called for scattered showers. If the magical powers of the internet, backed up by some kind of official meteorology, we hope, are to be trusted, it's an iffy beach day at best.


So, do what Americans do best: binge watch. But don’t let your family down with a two-hour session of trying to find a nugget of gold in the barrel of silt that is Netflix. Instead, travel down past the overpass, take a left and be beguiled by an amazing all-day program of viewing on a screen that would make that rich friend with the wall-size TV turn at least lime, if not emerald.


It’s Planet Earth Day at Southworth Planetarium (96 Falmouth St), playing on Saturday, July 1 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. A single ‘Earth Pass’ (adults $10, children and seniors $8) will grant you access to any and all shows.


To give the intrigued a taste of this smorgasbord of delights, the a la carte menu begins with a fine film called Chronicle of a Journey to Earth, and moves on, if the little savages don’t usurp the projector and play it again, with titles like Bella Gaia: The Beautiful Earth (a good choice for anybody who misses someone in their life) and finally caps off with the distinctive flavor of an educational aperitif called “Night Sky Tour.” If that doesn’t suit your little astronaut, nothing will.


  • Published in Kids

What the Good Guys Are Doing — Maine Org Helps to Rescue Dogs from International Meat Farms

Many of us are guilty of joking about it. But we may be forgiven, since our friends know that to make light of something abhorrent is sometimes the only way to emotionally process it. “My dog destroyed another chair, that little chewer. I’m giving him to the Chinese restaurant.” Such a joking comment is surely ignorant, and may be construed as a little racist by the hypervigilant. But the seed of it, whether one finds it worthy of a chuckle or a note-to-self to hang-out with that friend a little less, is rooted in an important cultural difference. One that dog lovers hate.


But get this. Those same dog lovers are doing something about it. The country in question is actually South Korea, where, despite sharply falling demand for dog meat, there are still some 17,000 farms in operation.


Enter the Humane Society International. These are the warriors of the dog-fan world. They fly overseas, discover both purebreds and mixed breeds in dark, dank dungeons, barely kept alive and literally unable to walk around even when released because they’ve always been in a cage and never learned how. These fine folks transport the pooches to US soil and rehabilitate them physically and socially until they literally learn for the first time how to be dogs. The organization has rescued over 800 meat-farm dogs from seven farms in South Korea since 2015. What happens to the dog farm owners? The HSI actually gets them started with training and support to enter other lines of business. Heart swelling yet?


The local angle is that Westbrook’s Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland has been working hard in recent months to bring some of these South Korean puppies into some kind of canine life, from the time the dogs stand at the back of the truck that brought them and wonder how to walk down the ramp, to successful integration into multi-dog adopter’s families (meat-farm dogs often need a canine ‘mentor’). The ARLGP last month celebrated the first anniversary of their five-dog program, reporting in their blog (at that the success rate with their South Korean dogs, albeit at different stages of completion for each pup, is one hundred percent. No joke.


So rest easy. Maine has its own champions for the canine cause, and nobody’s going to hell for bad jokes. And did we see one of The Don’s aides at a pet store down the road from Camp David, saying he was ‘checking things out on a friend’s behalf’? Hmm!


  • Published in Pets
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