BANGOR, Maine — Nearly 20 bed-and-breakfast establishments in Maine are offering a free night’s stay to veterans and their families next week in honor of Veterans Day.
As part of a snowballing nationwide program, participating Maine establishments are hosting veterans and their loved ones Wednesday, Nov. 10; the night before Veterans Day, according to Maria Coder, spokeswoman for BnBFinder.com.
According to Coder, men and women now serving or who have served in the military are eligible for a free night’s stay at participating inns. The only requirement for these rooms is a valid military identification.
The program, started in 2009 by the West Virginia B&B Association, initially involved about a dozen inns. This year it has grown to more than 600 inns in 40 states, plus other countries.
Word of the program has spread through mass e-mails to veterans, social media and news organizations.
The program is proving so popular that virtually all of the rooms in Maine already have been booked.
Sarah Pebworth, owner of the historic Blue Hill Inn, said she is making two rooms available for veterans next Wednesday.
“Both booked very quickly,” she said Friday. One of the rooms will be occupied by a Maine Air National Guardsman and his family, and the other by a decorated Vietnam War veteran and his wife, who also are from Maine, she said.
Like other participating innkeepers, Pebworth said she signed on to the program as a way to recognize veterans for their service to the nation.
“We do want to say thank you,” she said.
Because the program is proving so popular and demand for rooms is so high, Pedworth said she also is offering veterans a 20 percent discount on rooms for other nights.
Pebworth plans to participate again in the future, though she hopes there is a way to let people know when inns are fully booked so she doesn’t have to turn veterans away.
At the White Cedar Inn in Freeport, innkeepers Monica Kissane and Rock Nadeau donated all of their rooms to the cause, then went a step further and called local restaurants trying to get their soon-to-stay vets some free meals.
“We approached some restaurants, and three said they would foot the bill for the service person’s dinner,” Kissane said. “Now Azure Cafe, Jameson Tavern and Gritty’s Brew Pub are pitching in on this wonderful effort, too.”
Participating bed-and-breakfasts in the Bangor Daily News coverage area are: Captain Swift Inn, Inn at Sunrise Point and the Inns at Blackberry Common, Camden; Blue Skye Farm, Waldoboro and The Tipsy Butler, Newcastle.