BAR HARBOR, Maine — In many ways, Bar Harbor in the summer represents the very foundation upon which this country was born: numerous cultures commingling in search of happiness.
Hancock County’s popular seaside destination featured potential sources of happiness on America’s birthday Saturday — a public pancake breakfast, a parade, lobster races, a craft fair, music, even mostly cooperative weather.
What stood out, though, was the variety of people.
License plates that lined the town streets read not just Maine but also Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Brunswick. Languages spoken extended from English to Spanish and French, from Chinese to Russian. Sports attire ranged from Red Sox to Yankees. OK, that one’s not much of a stretch.
“You always hear about how Maine doesn’t have a lot of diversity, but look around,” said Kimberly Isherwood, 24, of Newark, N.J., who was visiting Mount Desert Island with her fiance, Geoff Pike, also of Newark.
The couple drove leisurely along the Atlantic coast for three days before ending up in Maine on Friday. They were staying at a local bed-and-breakfast until Sunday morning before driving back to New Jersey.
“We figured coastal Maine, even in bad weather, would be a better place than most on the Fourth of July,” said Pike.
The couple wasn’t alone with that thought.
As the annual parade wound through the town’s streets Saturday morning, thousands of families lined up to watch the exhibits go by. The Shriners and their minicars were a big hit with children.
Brady Everett, 5, watched most of the parade from his dad’s shoulders.
“He’s getting a little heavy,” admitted Doug Everett of Orland. “But what am I going to do, say no?”
Once the parade ended, visitors flooded into local shops and restaurants. For the seasonal businesses, the traffic was welcome.
“It’s been a rough summer so far,” said Joe Ingalls, a waiter at one of Bar Harbor’s eateries. “I work on tips, so I want as many customers as possible.”
Hotels and bed-and-breakfasts were mostly booked through the weekend. Representatives from Acadia National Park said visitors have been steady. Gas prices are at least $1 a gallon less than this time last year.
The only wild card was the weather, but most seemed hopeful that the Fourth of July weekend would help kick off the summer.