Thursday, August 13, 2015
Gardiner Waterfront, Gardiner, Maine
Gardiner, Maine—the sweet little town I proudly call home—suffered a major fire on July 16, 2015. Four historical buildings on Water Street (our main drag downtown) were destroyed along with a few businesses and all the possessions of a dozen tenants. The Gardiner Fire Department responded swiftly and decisively, and with the help of many neighboring fire departments, was able to contain the fire.
Although there was, amazingly, no loss of human life, a cat was reported lost in the fire. As a proud cat lady, my heart was heavy in the days that followed, not just because so many people had lost all of their cherished possessions, but also because Jolene’s cat, Carol Ann, was gone. I cried some tears over it. To my amazement, a few weeks later, I saw this post on Facebook:
A kind soul in downtown Gardiner spotted a cat wandering around the rubble of the gutted buildings lost in the fire in the weeks that followed. The cat was taken to Kennebec Valley Humane Society, and Carol Ann, hereby dubbed “The Miracle Kitty!,” was found and reunited with her overjoyed mom, Jolene. My heart grew three sizes. I called At Home Veterinary Hospital and covered the cost of Carol Ann’s vet bill so she could be cleared and go home to her mom.
So many people and businesses have graciously supported the Gardiner fire relief fund after this devastating fire. Clare Marron at Monkitree hosted a silent auction that raised over $5,000 in one weekend alone. The Boys & Girls Club of Gardiner hosted a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. There were many others too. It’s still not too late to donate to the fire relief fund hosted by the United Way of Kennebec Valley. I noticed just last week that Gardiner’s Hannaford was collecting donations for the fund, too.
Gardiner Main Street, with help from generous local sponsors, threw a “Thank You” party for the firefighters who responded to the fire. The Gardiner Rotary Club grilled dinner for all of the firefighters and their guests and then opened up the remains for the rest of us and raised an additional $1,500. Johnson Hall hosted Portland bluegrass band, Tricky Britches, as part of their free summer Waterfront Concert Series that night, and the band provided great entertainment at this wonderful community event. WMTW Channel 8 was on hand to cover the event.
I was among a handful of people honored during intermission by Thom Harnett, Gardiner’s extraordinary mayor, with a Gardiner Heart & Soul Award for efforts related to the fire relief. My small contribution to helping Gardiner’s “Miracle Kitty” being recognized publicly, and totally unnecessarily, just goes to show what a dear community Gardiner is. I was genuinely overjoyed that night to be cheered as a local supporter of my sweet town. If you are looking for a community that will welcome, nurture, support, and celebrate you, too, Gardiner’s the place! More photos below!