NEWPORT, Maine — The spirits of fun, goodwill and philanthropy will ride into Newport this weekend when the 35th annual Pine Tree Camp Ride-in comes to town.
The annual event brings hundreds of snowmobilers to the town both to participate in contests and events and to drop off cash that will benefit the Pine Tree Camp in the western Maine town of Rome, a summer camp for children and adults with physical or developmental disabilities. Since 1974, the ride-in has raised more than $3.4 million in support of the camp.
It also brings an economic boost to Newport, which normally would be experiencing a lull in business in the middle of winter. Local motels and inns already are full, restaurants are stocking up for extra diners, and other businesses, such as gas stations and grocery stores, are welcoming the prospect of extra business.
“It has always been an honor for Newport to host this every year,” Town Manager James Ricker said. “There is definitely an economic boost and a boost in goodwill while the ride-in is here.”
Ricker said the town encourages the event, putting snow in the road for the parade and then plowing it all off again, providing parking and traffic control. “We are proud to be a part of this,” he said.
Ride-in spokesman Harvey Chesley said Monday everyone appears very excited about this year’s event. “We may not reach a record-breaking amount [of donations],” Chesley said, referring to the poor economy. “But trail conditions are wonderful, this is a fun, family event, and we want everyone to come and have a good time.”
Events begin Friday, Feb. 6, and continue through Saturday night, Feb. 7. They include a photo contest, a ride-in auction, an all-you-can-eat breakfast, a snowmobile parade through downtown Newport, horse-drawn wagon rides, a queen and princess pageant, a chicken barbecue, children’s activities, a public supper and a fireworks display.
One highlight of the weekend that annually has proved popular is the celebrity egg ride, in which personalities from WQCB-FM Q106.5 and WABI-TV, along with others, carry one raw egg inside their snowmobile suits for each $50 pledged by viewers and listeners, as they ride the trail to Newport from Levant. This event alone annually raises thousands of dollars for the camp.
New this year is a photo contest featuring two categories — scenery and pets. Entries will be accepted from Friday night to noon Saturday. For information, call Marie Carter at 368-5356
Most of the events will be held at the Sebasticook Valley Community Center on North Street.
The schedule of events includes:
Friday, Feb. 6:
4 p.m.: Snowmobile club registration table open at ride-in headquarters, SVCC.
6:30 p.m.: Start of the annual ride-in auction featuring a wide variety of merchandise. The auction will be held at SVCC and will be run by Paul Jacques.
Saturday, Feb. 7:
7 a.m.: “All You Can Eat Breakfast Buffet” at Hungry Hollow ’76ers Snowmobile Club, Horseback Road, Levant (off ITS 84). Menu includes ham, eggs, pancakes, home fries, Texas toast, doughnuts, fruit, coffee, milk and juice for $4.50 for adults and $2.50 for children. Call Steve Galen at 884-8340.
7 a.m.: The fifth annual pancake breakfast for Pine Tree Camp at the Meridian Splendor Lodge on Route 7 in Newport. Call Harvey Chesley at 314-0637.
9 a.m.: Q106.5 Celebrity Egg Ride. To make a pledge, call the Q106.5 at 991-9500. The ride will conclude at SVCC.
11 a.m.: Snowmobile parade through downtown Newport led by the celebrity egg riders. Call Gary Braley at 368-5808.
11 a.m.-1 p.m.: Chicken barbecue in the parking area across from the community center. Call Harvey Chesley at 314-0637.
11 a.m.: Horse-drawn wagon rides with Misty Blue Acres. Starts at SVCC and travels through Newport. Call Kristina Therrien at 443-3341.
1-2 p.m.: Ride-in Queen and Princess Pageant at SVCC. Talented girls from the central Maine area vie for the titles of 2009 Ride-in Queen and Princess. Call Marie Carter at 368-5356.
2-4 p.m.: Children’s activities and games including sand art, balloon games and pie-eating contest at SVCC. Call Kristina Therrien at 443-3341.
4:30-6 p.m.: public supper at SVCC. Call Harvey Chesley at 314-0637.
6:15 p.m.: Annual giant fireworks show over Sebasticook Lake. Call Harvey Chesley at 314-0637.
7-8 p.m.: Annual awards ceremony and tote board tally at SVCC.
For more information, go to www.pinetreesociety.org.