Today, a trusted friend and I saved Christmas in Portland. Maybe.
Last week, I noticed Portland’s statue of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was missing its traditional holiday scarf and present this year. It made me sad. I’ve grown to love seeing him as festive as the rest of the city in December.
So, I set about looking for the folks who usually get him gussied up. It wasn’t easy. They’re a secretive bunch.They’ve been doing since 1999 and still, nobody knows for sure who they are.
But I’m a reporter, after all. After a few calls, clandestine meetings and a secret sprig of holly left on my doorstep, I located those responsible.
“Thanks for noticing and caring that Henry is out in the cold this year,” they said in an email. “We were hoping to get an even 20 years of (dressing him up) but, alas, this year, one of us had to have a hip joint replaced in November and then we had that early-ish snow, then the ice… it’s not safe to be scrambling around on cast bronze with very small toe holds coated with ice and snow.”
It seemed like a good excuse to me.
“If you know someone with a bucket lift who wants to help out,” they went on to say, “have them contact us ASAP and we’ll get it done. Otherwise, old Hen will just have to tough it out till next year.”
I didn’t know anyone with a bucket lift — but I did have a friend with a healthy sense of Christmas spirit and sense of adventure. Enter my pal, and co-worker, Seth Koenig.
He suggested we just get it done, ourselves. And that’s what we did. Armed with a stepladder and two dollar store scarves, we saved Christmas, sort of.
Our decorations aren’t as artful as those normally draped around Longfellow. But they’ll have to do. I hope he appreciates it.
For what it’s worth, the team of secret decorators was right. It was was terrifying putting that scarf on the 129-year-old Longfellow statue. You may not realize walking by that his head is about 17 feet up in the air.
Our eight-foot ladder left us having to get creative to sling the scarf onto our famous bronze poet friend. He was covered in snow. Do not try something like this yourself.
We’re professionals. (Professional journalists, admittedly, but professionals nonetheless.)
I, at least feel better. It finally feels like the holidays in Portland.