“The MS Harborfest is a unique event within the National MS Society. It stands out nationally,” said Steve Faloon, development coordinator for the MS Society local chapter. “One of the reasons that it’s so popular is that it captures our local heritage,” he said as he and several others from the MS Society answered questions today at the MS Shoreside Festival on the Eastern Promenade. “There’s no other event like it anywhere.”
Vendors were lined up side-by-side along the Eastern Promenade both days – selling jewelry, paintings, crepes, freshly squeezed lemonade. Kristin Rapinac, an Eastern Promenade resident, volunteered Saturday for the Friends of the Eastern Promenade one of the organizations hosting the two day event. She said that the MS Society approached the Friends about hosting the event and “because so many people already visit the Prom to watch the races, why not make it a festival? The Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization was the other hosting non-profit.
One of those enjoying the views from Ft. Allen Park was Merle Hallett who started Harborfest 30 years ago this year. Hallett grew up on the Hill and lived at several different locations including – Emerson & Congress Streets, Howard & Turner Streets, Munjoy & Wilson Streets and finally at 38 Eastern Promenade. It was there that Hallett built his first boat – when he was 15 years old. He built a Moth Class sailboat in the backyard on the Prom. He sold it for $28. because that’s what it cost him to build it Hallett told mhn.com this afternoon.
Hallett, 83, wanted to develop his selling skills. And so he went to work for several companies including Electrolux vacums. Eventually, he was hired by Harold Sawyer, an owner of the Handy Boat Services, Falmouth. (The other owner at the time was a second cousin of mine, Richard Howison.) Hallett said he did whatever Sawyer told him to do; mostly involving the maintenance of boats which were wooden and so there was plenty of work to be done. Hallett and his wife, Barbara, sailed in the Regatta yesterday and won in their class with 34 ft. sloop – Scaramoche, which means scoundrel. The boat was built at Handy Boat.
Hallett said the Shoreside Festival on the Eastern Prom was not the first one. They tried it one year with a veterans’s group. “This one is good. People seem to be enjoying themselves,” he said with a twinkle in his bright blue eyes.