A Red, White, and Blue Holiday in Maine…Goes Green

Bar Harbor ParadeI crave an old-fashioned Fourth of July.

A pancake breakfast sponsored by the Rotary. A parade with lots of flags. A concert on the Village Green. Fireworks on a waterfront.

And that’s exactly what I am going to get because I’m going to spend this Fourth of July in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Chris Fogg, Executive Director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, says, “We have a very traditional celebration Blueberry muffinsthat hits everything Maine is known for.” That means, of course, that there will be lots of blueberries and lobster. To benefit the YMCA scholarship program, local businesses will be racing lobsters in a “crustacean contest.” There will be a crafts fair featuring quilts, photographs, and porcelain dolls. And a highlight is the Seafood Festival in the local ballpark with a menu of lobster, mussels, corn, and strawberry shortcake.

There’s one new tradition that may surprise you, though. The town goes to extraordinary lengths to make the celebration as green as, well, a forest in Maine.

For the last three years the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce has been partnering with the MDI Rotary Club and College of the Atlantic in some interesting ways to make the Fourth of July Celebration more eco-friendly. The Blueberry Pancake Breakfast and Seafood Festival use materials, including napkins and eating utensils, which are recyclable and compostable. The “silverware” is made out of potatoes – another great product of Maine. With all of the shopping that goes on in this charming village, the Chamber of Commerce also sells shopping bags recycled from plastic bottles.

Although these measures are special for the holiday, they are not unusual for MDI. For example, L.L. Bean supports a network of propane-fueled buses to transport hikers, bikers, and sightseers around Acadia National Park, which occupies about two-thirds of the island. Called the Island Explorer, this system has carried over 2 million passengers, reduced smog-causing pollutants by more than 11 tons, and prevented the release of over 7,300 tons of greenhouse gases. And it’s free.

In fact, the island has a long history of eco-tourism. In the 1920s John D. Rockefeller, Jr. feared the impact of automobiles on Mount Desert Island. Collaborating with Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., the son of the designer of Central Park in New York, he helped develop the 27-mile Park Loop Road, a stunning roadway encircling Mount Desert Island and presenting breathtaking views to motorists – while protecting the island’s forests and wildlife.

So, if the wholesome holiday and eco-commitment haven’t convinced you where you want to spend America’s holiday, perhaps the outdoor agenda will. For an affordable family vacation in Maine, Acadia National Park offers 130 miles of hiking trails and 57 miles of car-free carriage roads for biking. From whale watching to oceanariums, there are lots of things to do with kids in Acadia.

For more information about Bar Harbor’s Fourth of July celebration, check out the Events calendar at www.barharborinfo.com.   OUR ACADIA offers candid reviews on restaurants, rentals, and boat trips.

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