The world knows about the one and only taste of delicious Maine lobster. There isn’t a better way to end a warm summer day than to share in the pleasures of a lobster dinner with family and friends. For many tourists and locals alike a lobster bake has become somewhat of a tradition at vacation time.
Another annual event that most Mainers know about and one that most visitors would find very worthwhile is the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic. This year marks the 16th version of this East-West All-Star football game that benefits the two Shrine Children’s Hospitals in New England (one in Springfield, Mass. and the other a burn hospital in Boston).
The game has taken place at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford since 1992 and that will again be the location this year when 88 of Maine’s finest high school football players – at least one player from every football-playing school in the state – face off against one another on Friday, July 22.
More than 1,200 players have helped raise over $250,000 during the Lobster Bowl’s first 15 years. Athletes from all of York County’s football programs – Traip Academy, Marshwood, York, Noble, Wells, Kennebunk, Sanford, Massabesic, Biddeford, Thornton Academy and Old Orchard Beach – proudly take part and they always perform admirably during the contest.
The players and the all-star cheerleaders collect donations individually as part of their involvement with the game. And businesses throughout the state donate money and services to help the Kora Shrine Temple in Lewiston raise as much money as possible in its effort to help youngsters with medical needs.
The coaches, players and cheerleaders all volunteer a week of their time – forsaking a week of pay from their summer jobs – in order to prepare for the game itself. The two all-star teams practice and are housed at Colby College in Waterville and the cheerleaders practice and stay at Central Maine Community College in Auburn.
When game-day arrives, everyone gets a chance to see where they’ll be performing that evening as the teams go through some pre-game walk-throughs. At 6:30 p.m., the festivities start with cheerleading routines, marching band performances and the always exhilarating skydiving show. Finally, each player is introduced as spectators from home towns all over Maine burst into applause for their particular all-star.
The football fans in attendance are always entertained by the spirited play on the field and half-time performance of the cheerleaders. No matter what the scoreboard says at the conclusion of the contest, no one leaves Waterhouse Field a loser on this particular evening.
The fans get to see football played prior to the fall season. The players get a chance to strap on the pads (some for the last time ever). And the Shrines are able to use all of the proceeds from the event to help the many, many children they take care of at their hospitals.
The game’s slogan is “Strong legs run so that weak legs may walk.” York County residents and visitors alike would truly enjoy themselves at this summer’s Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl.
Carl Pepin is the Sports Editor of the York County Coast Star.