PORTLAND, Maine — Asylum seekers from African countries such as Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo enjoyed their first Fourth of July with an ice cream social at a famous lighthouse in Maine.
A bus company on Thursday provided transportation from a makeshift shelter at the Portland Expo to Fort Williams Park, home to the Portland Head Light, in nearby Cape Elizabeth. The newcomers enjoyed ice cream, kite flying, face painting and soccer.
Volunteers helped put together the welcoming picnic, and held signs in English and French welcoming asylum seekers who are among hundreds being housed at the Portland Expo. Children flew rainbow-colored kites on the sunny afternoon, some with images of the U.S. flag painted on their cheeks.
Across the state, Fourth of July events included parades, road races and pancake breakfasts as the state enjoyed temperatures that soared into the 80s.
The largest of the celebrations is in Maine’s largest city where the Portland Symphony Orchestra was returning after a one-year hiatus. About 50,000 people typically attend the Stars and Stripes Spectacular on the Eastern Promenade. Hundreds more watch from boats.