Solstice celebration fun despite no sun

Posted June 21, 2009, at 9:37 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The sun was remarkably shy Saturday at Rockland’s annual solstice celebration.

But although the guest of honor never made it to the party on the second-longest day of the year, plenty of happy people did. Some danced in the rain on Main Street, which was temporarily pedestrian-only. Others stuffed themselves with fried dough and french fries, and a sizable group vied to soak local notables in the chilly water of a dunk tank.

“We come every year,” said Beth Bull of Rockland. “It’s just great to take over our downtown. We wish the street was like this all the time.”

The festival was put on by Rockland Main Street, with support from Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, and though crowds had trimmed down considerably by 6 p.m., those who remained seemed pleased with the damp offerings to celebrate the summer kickoff.

Pat Snow of Owls Head listened to a band play under an awning.

“We always come out,” she said. “We look forward to this every year. They make such an effort. I think people would come in the middle of a snowstorm to support them.”

One attendee, Tim Fuller of Belfast, hadn’t known about the festival until he saw the Maine Lobster Festival mascot, which blocked off one end of Main Street.

“Everybody seems to be having fun — maybe even because of the rain,” he said.

Cat Grotton, 16, and Sadie Jacobs, 17, both of Rockland, were walking the sidewalks with a mission — to hug as many people as possible. Bolstered in their quest by a large placard that advertised “free hugs,” the two girls said that they had clocked 297 hugs after a mere half-hour at the festival.

“Even people who don’t hug us are smiling,” Sadie said.

One woman beamed with a smile as bright as one of those missing sunbeams when she saw the girls, and their sign.

“Sure, I’ll take a free hug,” she said.

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