Hundreds celebrate at Orland River Day

From left to right, Alex Taylor, Tristan McGraw, Ian Ramsay, Erik Taylor-Lash and Sydnie Howard leap into the Orland River from the Ralston Gray Memorial Bridge. Hundreds attended that event, which began Friday evening with the Miss Orland River Day Pageant and ended Saturday with two races — one with rafts, the other with rubber ducks.

ORLAND — A couple hundred souls came together this past weekend for Orland River Day, an annual, daylong ritual featuring a homemade raft race, a parade and various other types of merrymaking.

One activity missing from this year’s festivities was the cannonball competition that normally happens off the dock behind Old Things Antiques. That dock is no longer there, prompting the contest to be canceled.

Otherwise, the day went off with flying colors. The sun drenched everyone who came, so in lieu of the cannonball competition, some youths managed to stay cool by taking the 20-foot plunge off the Ralston Gray Memorial Bridge.

On Friday evening, four girls triumphed in the Miss Orland River Day Pageant and were selected to join Kathy Conary as grand marshals of the parade the next morning. The new River Day queens were Hannah Atwood (in the 2-4-year-old category), Lillian Soper (5-7), Abigail Coffin (8-10) and Abrina Patterson (11-13).

According to Alvion Kimball, who emceed River Day, four prizes were awarded after the parade. Most Spirited went to a group of local women that calls itself the Thirsty Thursday Club and was dressed as “Wizard of Oz” characters. (Led by Margaret Rankin, that group also organized the River Day events.)

The Most Original prize went to Peter Weser, who provided three antique vehicles for the parade: a 1973 Pantera, a 1956 Ford Thunderbird and a 1969 Chevy Camaro. The Judges’ Choice prize went to the town Fish Committee, whose float replicated the conveyor belt that lets alewives climb the Orland River Dam.

The climax of the festivities was the raft race, in which several groups float down the river in watercraft made from Styrofoam panels, ladders, bathtubs and flower pots. The victors were Richard Powell and Jerry Harriman, whose vessel Dragon Fly floated on plastic bottles.

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Charles Eichacker

Charles Eichacker

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Charles Eichacker covers the towns of Bucksport, Orland, Castine, Verona Island, Penobscot, Brooksville and Dedham. When not working on stories, he likes books, beer and the outdoors. [email protected]