PORTLAND, Maine — Despite dire weather forecasts, a blanket of thick, wet snow and a two-night parking ban called before the first flakes even fell, downtown city dwellers were out and about Saturday.
With all-night parking prohibitions called both Friday and Saturday nights, drivers were reluctant to give up their parking spaces. Thus, city traffic was at a minimum. Walking, cross-country skiing and fat-tire biking became Portland’s default mode of transportation.
Dogs dragged their owners through the Old Port’s treacherous slush. Sledders shot down the hill on the Eastern Prom, then trudged back up, their sleds proceeding them in the howling wind.
Manual snow shovelers groaned with their burdens and snowblowers only managed to barf the icky mess a few inches from their chutes.
At the Casco Bay lines ferry terminal, it was business as usual. Deckhands tossed line to each other as the Wabanaki came back from an island run. The captain could be seen through the pilothouse window, easing the heavy vessel up to the dock with practiced precision.
Nearby, a group of men sat under a canopy and out of the snow on benches. They nursed cups of hot coffee and a few high-gravity beers.
In the Old Port, all retail operations were closed but a few, stalwart watering holes remained open and packed.
Clockwise: Blowing snow covers a statue of Thomas Brackett Reed along Portland’s Western Prom on Saturday, March 4, 2023, during a late season storm; A skier makes tracks across the end of Morning Street in Portland on Saturday, March 4, 2023; A sledder trudges up a hill on Portland’s Eastern Prom while a steady wind whips snow off the harbor on Saturday, March 4, 2023. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN
Shaun McCarthy stood in the doorway of his bar, Dock Fore, one of the eldest establishments in the Old Port. McCarthy had just finished shoveling the brick sidewalk out front and was taking a breather.
“Nah, we never close for snow,” he said. “We were open by 8.”
McCarthy opened early so his loyal soccer-watching crowd could see televised matches from England. Also, one of his bartenders lives upstairs. Another lives within walking distance.
“Are you open?” a passing trio of women asked, nearly in unison.
McCarthy opened the door for them.
“Of course we are,” he said. “Come on in.”