Anyone driving, walking, skateboarding, or living on Kenney Field Drive knew it the moment they saw Geoff and Linda Dow’s Windjammer Days Porch Parade entry. This was going to win in the residential category. As neighbor Cathy Blake said, “Hands down it’s the one.” And it did.
Their island fishing village scene includes a dock, a lobsterman carrying a trap with mermaid catch, a painted backdrop of the ocean and island behind a 3D shack on the front of the house; and a mermaid and baby on a rock near a treasure chest near the driveway … pure magic.
July 8, Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce presented the couple with the first place prize of $1,000. Chamber Executive Director Lisa Walby, with board members Julie Roberts and Alyssa Allen, presented the check.
The Dows’ longtime artist friend Mari McGuire of Gardiner and Ocean Point encouraged them to enter the competition. The three met several times to talk about what their interpretation of the theme, Land Ho! would be.
“We knew we wanted it to be a fishing village and it had to include mermaids,” Linda said. She loves them almost as much as she loves the moon.
Geoff wasn’t so sure he wanted to do the display, but McGuire recalled that he said “go big or go home!” by the end of the first meeting.
“I drew quite a few sketches with pretty rough dimensions to show them what I had for an idea,” Geoff said. “I knew I wanted to bump out the door for a 3D effect.”
The mermaid tail in the front garden, a gift McGuire made for Linda, was going to play a larger role in some of the original sketches. Then McGuire found an image of a Norman Rockwell painting for a Saturday Evening Post cover in August 1955. The painting, “Mermaid (A Fair Catch),” is of a lobsterman carrying a trap with a mermaid inside, on his shoulder.
While Geoff made the final sketches, Linda and McGuire started gathering props with help from Roxanne Andrews and Mary Labbe.
Linda already had that mermaid tail. The lobster trap holding the mermaid is from McGuire’s lobstering days off Ocean Point in the 70s; the doll heads for the mermaids were borrowed from McGuire’s granddaughter; the lantern from the family’s camp was Geoff’s mom’s; the treasure chest and its baubles were items the Dows picked up over the years.
Three weeks before the June 26 deadline, Geoff started building and painting the backdrop, a Maine island scene. The fisherman’s skeleton is hinged 2 by 3’s, tendons from 3/8-inch plywood, muscle out of old swim noodles, and the chest is old 2-inch blue scrap foam, rags and shrinkwrap. McGuire used a pair of husband Vinny’s boots, cut in half and then glued back together, for the fisherman. Once he was built, McGuire painted the head.
Repurposed plywood and leftover shingles from a shed project became the door; the waves were constructed from the covering that comes on pallets of plywood that get tossed away. Everything is made of repurposed and recycled materials.
“I want to thank Senecal Construction Services for letting me work in the shop after hours to construct most of this,” Geoff said. “Everything but the dock was done there.”
The 4-foot panels, transformed into “a typical Maine island scene and shack and doors were transported by truck to the house. The family – Geoff, Linda, daughter Emily and grandson Dominic – put it up on the front of the house.
What about that other mermaid, the one on the rock near the treasure chest? “I had three days to get her from Gardiner to here,” McGuire said. “She’s made of anything and everything from the recycle bin – torso is paper mache, then she was sheet-rocked and painted … she’s uh, she’s better from a distance. She’s so ugly the tide won’t take her out!”
The mom mermaid and the mermaid in the trap may not be as glamorous as Rockwell’s, but, clearly it all works.
Many cars have driven by slowly to check out the display. A family with a little girl stopped last week. The child was quite taken with the mommy mermaid and baby and all of the stuffed animal sea creatures, including Nemo. Linda gave her it.
All told, Geoff spent 40-50 hours over three to four weeks constructing the scene. “I’m so impressed by the enthusiasm and creativity Geoff and Linda put into their porch parade entry. It’s awesome!” Walby said.
The porch parade also had commercial winners: First place, St. Andrews’ Village, second, The Ice Cream Hut, and third, The Smiling Cow.