‘We are absolutely open’: Southern Maine businesses gearing up for February event after damaging storms


The “Paint the Town Red” event kicks off on Saturday.

A glowing sign helps celebrate the “Paint the Town Red” event in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Arundel Maine in February. Heidi Kim

Businesses in southern Maine have a message for tourists after last month’s damaging storms: We’re open.

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Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Arundel are gearing up for the region’s annual Paint the Town Red event, a monthlong celebration that includes festive decorations, retail, restaurant, and hotel specials, cooking and art classes, wine tastings, music and comedy performances, and more. The kick-off party takes place on Saturday.

Weeks ago, the seaside communities faced the wrath of Mother Nature. Powerful storms brought “historic high tides and massive flooding” to the Maine coast in January, damaging businesses, docks, roads, and more, according to The Portland Press Herald. Some visitors subsequently cancelled hotel reservations.

“It was terrible and a lot of our people had to file for damages,” Laura Dolce, executive director of the Kennebunk Kennebunkport Arundel Chamber of Commerce, told Boston.com about the storms. “But, fortunately, it is not something that is impacting this monthlong event.”

Kennebunkport Resort Collection, comprising 10 area hotels, five of which are open year-round, has fielded cancellations in the wake of the storms, according to Justin Grimes, regional managing director of Kennebunkport Resort Collection.

“Despite encountering some cancellations, four of Kennebunkport Resort Collection’s year-round hotels and numerous restaurants are open and continue to welcome guests and locals,” Grimes said in a statement.

The only change to this year’s schedule is the unexpected closure of The Yachtsman Hotel & Marina Club, located on the Kennebunk River, due to weather damage, Dolce said.

The Yachtsman Hotel & Marina Club, part of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, was offering up to 15% off a two-night stay, sweet treats, a bottle of bubbles, and a take-home body scrub. Customers with reservations at The Yachtsman will be relocated to a sister hotel, according to a representative.

“Paint the Town Red” began nine years ago “to remind people that we’re still here, whether or not the beaches are available for you to lay on. It’s obviously not warm weather but we have so many cool things going on at this time of year,” Dolce said.

The celebration gets bigger every year, Dolce said, and this year the Biddeford-Saco Chamber of Commerce has joined the fun.

The kickoff event on Saturday, called “Frosted,” will feature ice sculptures, signature cocktails, a photo booth, and DJ at The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, another Kennebunkport Resort Collection hotel.

“Over the past nine years, we have worked hard to establish Kennebunkport as THE February destination via our Paint The Town Red community-wide programming and we’re especially grateful to continue to do so this year,” Grimes said, in a statement.

“We are absolutely open,” Dolce said. “The businesses that are participating are moving ahead, are excited. It’s always a great time of year for us.”

Check out the 2024 Paint the Town Red schedule.