ORONO — This year, the University of Maine’s traditional Maine Day observance will be a weeklong event April 24–28, focused on community-building and service activities, and philanthropic activities. Students, faculty and staff will have opportunities to get involved — from cleaning up campus to planting gardens — and participate in traditional events, such as Oozeball, the parade, and community block party and barbecue.
The 2023 Maine Day Week Committee has published a full schedule of events online, including a list of the more than three dozen volunteer service project opportunities coordinated by the Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism. UMaine community members can sign up online to volunteer, add service projects or Maine Days events, and join the parade.
Maine Days coincides with UMaine’s Senior Week, organized by the Class of 2023 Senior Class Council, and the Maine Day of Giving, led by the University of Maine Foundation. In addition, a number of UMaine Athletics events are scheduled that week.
Also, there is a 2023 Maine Days Food Drive, April 17–24, with nonperishables to be donated to the Black Bear Exchange and distributed to food pantries statewide serving food-insecure Mainers. The Honors College is spearheading the collection efforts, with a goal to collect 7,500 pounds of donated food.
Among the Maine Days event highlights:
- Wednesday, April 26 — Block Party and Barbecue, 5–7:30 p.m., with food served until 6:30 p.m., Steam Plant parking lot
- Friday, April 28 — Maine Days Parade, 3:30 p.m., starting from Versant Power Astronomy Center
- Saturday, April 29 — Summer Kickoff, noon–3 p.m., Mall
“Maine Day has been renamed and restructured for 2023 to be an exciting week focused on service, philanthropy and fun, as well as community-building activities,” says Robert Dana, vice president for student life and inclusive excellence, and dean of students. “As other universities across the country have done, UMaine needed to consider a change for a time-honored tradition that many community members said had lost its focus over the years. Several committees and lots of people have come up with a week-long approach that will include campus-based events to engage students, faculty and staff, all in a concerted effort to help students relax and enjoy themselves, while hopefully reducing the likelihood that anyone could be injured in pursuit of stress relief.”
Maine Day was introduced in 1935 by UMaine President Arthur Hauck as a day set aside for spring campus clean-up. Over the decades, the tradition transitioned away from its roots and became a large-scale, daylong celebration with classes canceled.
Based on input from students, faculty and staff about decreased volunteerism and increased safety concerns related to the long-standing day of service, UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy established a 23-member Maine Day Task Force, chaired by professor Jeffrey Hecker, with student, faculty, staff, alumni and Orono community representation to reenvision Maine Day.
The advisory group issued a 12-page report in December with recommendations, which were informed by data and a significant amount of campus and community input. In February, the university shifted to Maine Days and planning began for a weeklong focus on beautification and giving back to campus. Classes will be held each day of that week, including Wednesday, April 26.
The revised week has many great activities that have also been coupled with harm reduction messaging about alcohol and other drug use. Safety and positive student engagement are the primary goals of this change that inaugurates a new approach to community celebration.