MP steers clear of touristy sorts of things most of the time, but when Keith Nuki, owner of the Portland Fire Engine Co., invited the team to tour Portland by fire truck, she was intrigued. Keith’s 1971 Fleetstar truck is hard to resist, especially when it comes to kids who love fire engines.
The vintage truck is parked outside Portland Lobster Co. Freeport native and USM student Patrick O’Reilly leads the multimedia, historic tour. The kids are given fire helmets to wear before climbing the back ladder up to their seats. Inside, there’s a flat screen TV that displays historic photos of the city. We begin the tour on Commercial Street and drive towards the East End. The ride is a little bumpy, but the team enjoys listening to Patrick and seeing the city from this unique vantage point. We also like our company, a little dog from New Hampshire named Freckles, who doesn’t seem to mind the bumps.
The truck stops at The Maine State Pier, The Portland Company Complex, the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, and Fort Allen Park. Along the way, MP learns interesting facts about Portland’s history. For fear of sounding like Cliff Clavin, she won’t spoil them all, but did you know that Fort Allen Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same man who designed Central Park in New York City?
We travel through Munjoy Hill, past the Portland Observatory, then on to City Hall, the Portland Fire Museum (where the tour stops on Wednesdays and Fridays), the Victoria Mansion, and then back to Commercial Street. MP especially enjoys the sights that engage the kids: a seagull perched on a cross, a bale of hay shaped like a globe, and a charming city corner with rows of birch trees.
The 45-minute tour is timed perfectly for kids. The railroad museum was a highlight for CP#1 and #2. As for MP, she loved learning new facts about her favorite little city. Thanks so much to Keith, Patrick, and the crew for the memorable experience!