Welcome to my hometown of Westbrook, Maine. I grew up here, live here with my wife, Erica, our three children, Morgan, Shannon and Maura, and the world’s most pathetic dog and my own personal stalker, Chocolate Chip.
I have served on the Westbrook City Council for 15 years, the last 10 as Council President. Some of you may have believed you’ve been living in the Greater Portland region. It’s my duty to inform you that you’re actually living in Greater Westbrook!
Westbrook is a paper mill town that has survived the downturn in paper production and thrived, serving as headquarters for Idexx, an international leader in animal diagnostics with more than 6,000 employees and serving customers in 175 countries, and is also renowned for its arts and music, including the Westbrook High School Jazz Band, which won the Berklee College Jazz Festival this year. And it has had four recent Maine teachers of the year and the 2016 Curriculum Leader of the Year!
Nothing pleases me more than to spend an entire day eating great food, sharing a craft brew with some friends, coming together with my neighbors to support a local cause, checking out a new show at an art gallery or seeing a movie…all without ever leaving Westbrook.
Let me give you just a sample.
Then it’s time to work that off and do something for the community. For example, on July 16, nearly 500 people walked and ran the third annual Westbrook Strong 5K to raise funds for a scholarship in memory of Matt Rairdon.
Including this goober.
Then you need lunch! If you didn’t stop by Mr. Bagel’s for breakfast, hit it now and grab a Hail Caesar Wrap or Killa Dilla. Or grab a sandwich at Rosen’s Deli, which used to be the Fully Belly Deli before it came to its senses and moved to Westbrook. Or a slice at Portland Pie. Sure they may have locations elsewhere, but why would you go any other place?
Now it’s time to get a little culture. Check out any number of Westbrook artists. Perhaps the Bakery Photo Collective is having a show. Or stop and see the art at Continuum for Creativity. If you’re lucky, you also might hear a local author reading from their work at Continuum. The Lowry’s Lodge Poetry Series spotlights local poets, including many published by Westbrook’s own Moon Pie Press. Books in the Brook is another monthly series featuring local poets and authors and was organized by two Maine Crime Writers bloggers, Brenda Buchanan and yours truly.
Or some music! Home to the late Rudy Vallee and Don Doane, the best musician Maine has ever seen, Westbrook is famous for its music. Check out Tony Boffa, or Motor Booty Affair or country music Hall of Famer Al Hawkes or The Bob Charest Band, or many others. Or watch the gold-medal winning high school marching band, the award-winning wind ensemble or chorus, or the jazz band that beat bands from all over the country to win the Berklee Jazz Festival.
Time for supper! If you didn’t manage to hit three places for lunch, move to the next on your list. Or try some Thai at Siam Square. Or head to Lenny’s for some great pub food, beer and music. You are likely to spot (and maybe hear) country music Hall of Famer Al Hawkes!
And nothing washes chocolate down like ice cream! And not just any ice cream. The creations at Catbird Creamery are unmatched anywhere. From Salted Chocolate and Brown Sugar Vanilla to Tamari Caramel, Rhubarb Pie or Carrot Cake or, if you’re brave, Furious George. Amazing.
You may be a little tired (and full) at this point, so stop and watch a movie at Cinemagic while you recharge then head to Westbrook’s newest craft brewery, Mast Landing. If you can’t decide which brew to sample, order a flight and try them all!
These are only some of the things you can do in Westbrook on any given day.
Time for me to go. I’ve got a very busy day ahead here in Westbrook!