Notes from Portland, Maine
Casey Gilbert
What I love about Portland
by Casey Gilbert, Executive Director

What I love about Portland, (among many other things) is the amazing lineup of events that we have during the holidays - and all year round. Portland Downtown puts on a wide array of holiday events - from the Tree Lighting in Monument Square and Shop for A Cause Day, to our window display contest and Merry Madness. We should also not forget the beautiful Winter Lights that will be shining bright for all to see! Portland Downtown happily sponsors the annual display and Pandora LaCasse is the artist behind the beautiful creations. The Winter Lights are an event in and of themselves and (thankfully!) it continues on throughout the cold, dark winter nights to bring light and joy to the City. How lovely!

In addition to Portland Downtown's amazing line-up of events, there is something happening every day of the week in Downtown - from concerts at our many live music venues, to networking events and a plethora of family-friendly events - there is something for everyone to enjoy.

No matter if you are already stringing up lights or just want to get out and enjoy the remaining gorgeous autumn days, there is plenty to do in Downtown. You can check out our events calendar for upcoming local events - or open up any one of Portland's terrific newspapers or magazines to get a taste of what's going on in the City - there is surely something to peak your interest. Get out and enjoy all that Portland has to offer - and while you're at it, bring a friend! As they say, the more, the merrier!

Robyn Violette
Meet Robyn Violette
A Q & A with one of our board members

How long have you been on the board?

I am a newcomer. I began in August of 2015.

What do you like most about what the board achieves?

I think it's great to provide a voice and leadership for this Downtown district and to keep evolving with the ever-changing needs of a growing community.

Which topics are currently being addressed by the board?

I  think the panhandling issue is one that needs some attention. Five years ago there were very few people soliciting on the peninsula, but now it has taken on a life of its own. While being considerate of the needs of the less fortunate, we need to find a viable solution while making sure it's not the first thing you see as you come down off the ramp from 295 into Downtown.

On which committees do you serve?

I am the Chair of the Events Committee and the Co-Chair on the Marketing Committee. I am looking forward to working with Sally Newhall of Sea Glass Events and Adam MacDonald, our new Marketing & Communications Coordinator, to bring fresh new ideas to the board.

What makes the Portland Downtown mission meaningful to you?

By keeping up with the city as it grows to allow us to keep the historical foundation while continuing to reinvent Portland to stay contemporary and dynamic.

What do you do for work outside of volunteering for Portland Downtown ?

I am the General Manager of the Fore Street Restaurant which keeps me very busy, and involved with many aspects of our region. We see lots of local diners so I am familiar with many wonderful people from Portland and the surrounding communities, and we are a destination for out-of-towners, so I am lucky to know people from all over the country who love Portland. We are seeing an increase of travelers from all areas of the country in Portland (not just from the East Coast), as the word has spread of our vibrant, safe, culinary savvy and diverse city.
My husband and I also have an antiques business on the side and that satisfies our passion for history and the education of such.

What is your favorite hotspot (restaurant, coffee shop, bar) Downtown?

Although I work a lot, I do get out to enjoy the local scene and support other businesses around town. Central Provisions is a favorite if I can find a spot, as their menu is continually changing (not unlike Fore Street), which keeps it interesting.

What is one fun fact about Portland that others may not know about?

Not necessarily a fact, but more of information from a historical point of view....
I grew up locally and spent a lot of time in the "Old Port" as a kid. My step-father was an insurance executive on Exchange Street from 1972 and we used to come in on Saturday with him and roam the area (his advice: "stay on Exchange Street!"). 
We ate lunch at Carburs Restaurant or Horsefeather's and perused the goods at the Paper Patch and Once a Knight. I lived in Baxter Place on Commercial Street for 7 years in my 20's and my first job out of college was working at a Law Firm on Portland Pier. I have seen the district evolve over time from somewhat of a decrepit, boarded up, uninviting place to a resurgence of upscale shops, restaurants, museums and businesses that over time has become a very desirable place to live, shop, eat and thrive.

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