ORONO, Maine — When the first Black Bear Orono Express pulls out of Mill Street early Monday morning to shuttle riders to the University of Maine campus, it will mark a landmark collaboration for the town and the university.
And as it turns out, the two entities will continue to work together for the rest of the month.
Assistant Town Manager Maria Weinberger met recently with UMaine officials, and together they came up with the September Spectacular, a month-long series of events in town and on campus.
“The whole point is: Let’s be more collaborative with our events,” said Weinberger, who also organized the events with the Orono Village Association. “[UMaine wants] our residents and merchants on campus; we want students downtown. The shuttle is the first step.”
Although the events did not happen in September, they kicked off the season on Saturday and Sunday as UMaine students flooded campus for the start of the school year, which also begins this morning.
The first in-month event will be the Downtown Getdown on Thursday, Sept. 3. The festivities, including a block party and ribbon-cutting for the new shuttle, run 3-6 p.m. in the municipal parking lot behind Mill Street. Orono businesses will offer specials and $5 tickets for that evening’s UMaine season-opening football game at Alfond Stadium. Other UM athletes will be in attendance for a meet-and-greet session.
Fans can travel to the 7 p.m. football game on the free shuttle, which will alter its hours to accommodate those going to and from the game.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever done anything like this,” Weinberger said. “But we’re hoping to get even a couple hundred people downtown, to see what’s happening, and then at the stadium.”
The fest continues Saturday, Sept. 5, with the first Harambe Jazz Festival, which will showcase Maine musicians. The event, which is free for students and community members, will take place from noon to 4 p.m. in the Dunn Hall parking lot on the UMaine campus.
On Saturday, Sept. 12, Orono will hold its Festival Day on Mill Street, featuring music, crafts, games for children, road races and food vendors.
Two weekends later, the town will host UMaine’s Family and Friends Weekend, usually held in December. The celebrations that weekend take a somber turn Sunday, Sept. 27, with the Out of the Darkness Community Walk to raise money and bring awareness to depression and suicide issues. Registration starts at 1 p.m. in front of Fogler Library.
Again this fall, the Orono Farmers Market will be open 2-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays in UMaine’s Steam Plant parking lot on College Avenue.
For information, call Weinberger at 866-2556 or firstname.lastname@example.org.