Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Phantom

Every year since 1976 the people of Portland have witnessed the work of the Valentines Day Phantom. This year was no different:
Today I again saw that most of the windows and doors of shops and businesses have been tagged by the 'bandit', as some call him. Walking around town and see all the bright red hearts really does give you a good feeling inside. And I love that the identity it still unknown. Though I have heard suggestions that it is everyone from the former Police Chief Mike Chitwood to local weather guy Kevin Mannix, the identity is still unknown.
I also like to over hear tourists commenting "Did you notice all these hearts?" Not fulling understanding the history of it...
It's a tradition that I look forward to each year.

Reporter Jeff Inglis with the Portland Phoenix published a very good article today. (FULL ARTICLE). Below I have copy and posted the history of it for your reading pleasure:

Heart history
1976 The first Valentine’s Phantom strikes in Portland, and garners reports in the Evening Express and Maine Sunday Telegram newspapers.

1977 Printing the flyers cost $22 at Colonial Offset Printing on Forest Avenue; a Portland Press Herald effort to discover the Bandit’s identity fails.

1978 Hearts went up a day late, and bore a note: “It’s not only ONE day!”

1979 The weather was 8 degrees and windy, according to notes made by one of the six bandits.

1984 Massive heart banners, roughly 20 feet by 35 feet, hang from the Cumberland County Civic Center and the Portland Museum of Art.

1986 A heart banner is hung on Fort Gorges in the middle of Casco Bay.

1991 Down East magazine imagines that “the phantoms roam the city in a pack, dressed in red or white capes emblazoned with huge hearts.”

2001 A heart flag flies from the roof of Portland’s Central Fire Station; a fire lieutenant denies any knowledge.

2005 A heart banner hangs from the roof of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute on Commercial Street.

OCTOBER 2005 Portland City Council candidate Carol Schiller claims to be one of the phantoms.

NOVEMBER 2005 An anonymous phantom responds with information that his effort predated hers, and that she has never worked with them.
2006 CNN mentions Portland’s Valentine’s Phantom in a national report.

DECEMBER 2007 A would-be Portsmouth Valentine’s Bandit posts a message on Craigslist, hoping to get some pointers from Portland. No dice, apparently: “If anything does happen in Portsmouth, it won’t be any of my doing.” Sure. Like we’re supposed to believe that.

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