2014-10-31 / Community

Pumpkinheads invade South Portland

By Duke Harrington
Contributing Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND – A veritable parade of pumpkinheaded pedestrians has overrun South Portland, thanks to the Sentry’s second annual scarecrow contest.

The inaugural event drew 16 participating businesses last year, largely concentrated in the Knightville district. But this season, that number has grown to 27, located all across the city.

“The whole thing has grown, they’re all over the place,” said Adam Cardinal, whose family owns and operates Legion Square Market on Ocean Street. “It’s like what I remember from growing up. My grandparents are from Belfast and there they used to decorate bears. Stuff like this, it’s fun for people and it creates a nice sense of community. It gives everyone something fun to do before winter sets in.”

Last year, the scarecrow at Legion Square Market was made up to look like a shopper, complete with grocery cart and babe-in-arms. This year, it’s a cashier, with long flowing hair — not meant to mimic any particular employee, Cardinal said —standing at a checkout line loaded with product.

“People seem to like it,” Cardinal said. “Although, when it was raining and we had to have ‘her’ inside, I kept catching her in my peripheral vision and thinking it was an actual person.”

The scarecrows have been on display at most locations since Oct. 17 and will stay up through Halloween, at least. Sentry readers are invited to vote on their favorite using a form inside the paper.

The winner will receive a free half-page color ad in a future issue of the Sentry, while second place will get a quarter-page ad, also in color. Last year, Legion Square Market’s shopping scarecrow took home the top prize, while Taco Trio’s sugar-skull creation captured runner-up honors.

As a bonus prize this year, everyone who votes will be entered into a random drawing for a $25 gift certificate to the winning business.

The citywide scarecrow competition is the brainchild of Mainely Media advertising representative Cindy Castaline. The idea came to her during a hiking trip to Jackson, New Hampshire, two years ago, she said, when she saw themed scarecrows lining the tourist town’s main drag, creating a genuine buzz for the small businesses there.

“I took pictures and came back and said ‘I know exactly what to do to help these people next year,’” Castaline said, referring to Sentry advertisers.

Most of the South Portland scarecrows have their own themes, like the one at Legion Square Market, which represents the business over which it stands guard. In other cases, it’s a running theme that has some meaning for the business owners.

At Linscott Real Estate on Cottage Road, the scarecrow is instantly recognizable.

“I got a call right after it went up from the city manager, who could see it from his office window across the street — ‘Great soccer player!’ he said,” recalled Melissa Linscott.

Last year, the Linscott scarecrow was a hockey player. This year, it’s a member of the South Portland Strikers, a youth travel team for kids age 8 to 13.

“We chose a sports theme primarily because we’re an athletic family and our kids have played on those teams, so it was only natural to choose that,” said Linscott, noting that her husband and business partner, Bryan, has coached the Strikers in the past.

One of the more popular entries this year, gaining considerable commentary on social media, can be found at the Cottage Road Service Center. There, the scarecrow is bent over the front of a car, seemingly at work on the engine. In addition to the large pumpkin that serves as its head, two smaller ones stand in as bottom cheeks. With its pants slung low, the twin pumpkins mimic an anatomical feature more often associated with plumbers than mechanics.

Like the scarecrow at Legion Square Market, it’s not meant to represent any particular employee.

However, at least one scarecrow is a designed to be the doppelganger for a real person.

At CIA Café, the scarecrow out front is “The Egg Man.” He’s supposed to be Bill Dunnigan, husband of business owner Jeannie Dunnigan. He makes the café’s famous egg sandwiches, served up on homemade English muffins.

The Egg Man’s Halloween stand-in had a pumpkin head, of course, but his eyes are yokes sunny side up, his ears are slices of bread, and his lips are made of bacon.

“It’s great to have children and adults of all ages, as they enter the café, see the Egg Man,” said Jeannie Dunnigan. “It’s so cute to see little kids react, they point and smile. Everybody loves the Egg Man.”

But Dunnigan admits the faux Egg Man may have one characteristic that makes him superior to his flesh-andblood counterpart.

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