GREENVILLE, Maine — Coloring for money is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Nine-year-old Girl Scouts Troop 710 member Allison Ward was among a dozen scouts drawing and coloring 175 lanterns as part of the culmination of the town’s weeklong 175th birthday celebrations Saturday night and as part of scout efforts to fund a trip to Washington, D.C. next year.
It wasn’t the first time Allison has colored for money, she said.
“I helped my mother make birthday cakes,” she said, explaining that her job was the administration of frosting. “That was like coloring.”
The weeklong celebrations drew as many as 2,000 people to Greenville and surrounding areas, said Candy Russell, executive director of the Moosehead Historical Society, which ran several of the birthday events.
The celebrations allowed Greenville residents and natives to reflect on the unique traits within the town’s history and the character of its people, said Russell.
The small Piscataquis County town, population 1,314 according to recent figures, swells to much larger proportions during summer months thanks to tourists who flock to it because of its pleasant character and position. It is on the southern end of Moosehead Lake, the state’s largest body of water, and surrounded by more than 15,000 acres of protected Maine Public Lands.
“This has been an amazing time for everyone,” Russell said.
Despite her hitting town a day later, the specter of Hurricane Irene was felt on Saturday, Police Chief Jeff Pomerleau said.
“We observed a steady flow of traffic out of here yesterday and we really started to notice today,” Pomerleau said. “We had been bombed for weeks and now the town is emptying out. Downtown is extremely quiet for a Saturday night.”
Pomerleau suggested that Irene was more hype than substance. Winds of 30 to 50 mph are common in the Greenville area, so the high winds Irene was going to bring would have not been too unusual. The heavy rainfall would have little impact on the lake and probably not cause any great flooding, he said.
But those who stayed for the town’s birthday party Saturday afternoon and the lantern lighting at dusk did seem to enjoy themselves. The party at the historical society drew about 100 people, including U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and other dignitaries, with another 200 or so lining the town dock for the lantern floating.
The lanterns were white paper bags affixed to small square blocks of polystyrene and set afloat in Moosehead Lake as part of the town’s birthday celebrations by the town wharf. Glow sticks gave them their luminosity. Patrons donated $5 for each lantern, allowing the scouts to raise slightly more than $750 after expenses, scout leaders said.