BANGOR, Maine — Despite a looming and potentially painful discussion over next year’s municipal budget, the city has begun preparations for a birthday party.
Bangor officially turns 175 years old next month. The city was incorporated on Feb, 12, 1834.
Mayor Gerry Palmer, who is the council chairman, made every assurance that the party would go easy on the budget, but he said it’s a great chance to show that Bangor is a welcoming community.
All the details for the Feb. 12 festivities are still being worked out, but Palmer said the day would include a bonfire at Bass Park, followed by a dance at the nearby auditorium.
“We hope to have more details in the days to come, but now more than ever, we need a celebration,” Palmer said Tuesday after a meeting of the celebration committee.
The mayor, an avid storyteller of Bangor’s history, recalled the city’s 125th birthday in 1959, when the now famous Paul Bunyan statue was unveiled. Palmer said he hopes to make Bunyan prominent in the 175th birthday festivities as well.
“Everyone needs to know that he’s from Bangor,” Palmer said of the legendary lumberjack. “Hopefully, when we’re done, they will know.”
Dick Shaw, a Bangor historian who serves on the celebration committee, is in charge of putting together a time capsule that will be unearthed in 25 years when the city turns 200.
“We’re asking people to come up with ideas for what should be included,” Shaw said. “This isn’t just for old people like me. We hope this is something that everybody talks about.”
Palmer said he hopes to include some of Bangor’s more famous residents in the celebration, including Gov. John Baldacci and perhaps author Stephen King.
“More than that, we want to give attention to the unsung heroes of Bangor, of which there are many,” the mayor said.