BANGOR, Maine — Late February and early March were busy times for the Cross Insurance Center (CIC) in Bangor. The premier arena in the eastern part of the state was hosting multiple events a week, sometimes having two or three in the same day.
Whether it was hosting the Maine Principals' Association's high school basketball tournament, bull riding events, concerts, or comedy shows, the CIC has become a staple for hosting big events in the Bangor area.
But when the coronavirus pandemic came to Maine, the lights in the arena were turned off for months. On Tuesday, the action was brought outside for its first event since March.
“It’s such a great feeling. It really, really is," General Manager Tony Vail said.
“I barely slept last night. I’ve been up since the crack of dawn this morning. We’re talking almost seven months with nothing at all."
'An Evening At Paul Bunyan Park' was a free concert Wednesday evening. Local artists Riff Johnson and Adam Babcock played musical sets for two hours in front of a socially distant crowd.
Circles on the grass outside of the building weren't the only safety precautions taken by the CIC.
"When (guests) arrive, they’ll be lined up socially distant to get checked in. We’ll be doing contact tracing when you arrive so we’re following those protocols," Vail added.
Masks were worn by everyone at the event.
The CIC draws people from all over Maine, New England, and even Canada for its primer events. Subsequently, it brings in more people to Bangor which boosts the local economy.
“It’s really brought a lot of people’s attention to Bangor, and it’s brought a lot of people and their spending money to Bangor," Tanya Emery, the Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Bangor, said.
Without events held at the CIC, the local area is feeling an impact.
“Obviously it’s a significant financial impact on the community and the businesses that rely on that," Emery added.
After Wednesday's event, the CIC and the City of Bangor will work to make plans for future outdoor events.
“These types of events, community events, are things we’re going to keep doing no matter what goes on," Vail said.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, there’s bad clothing, and so there are opportunities for us to be a more four-season community," Emery added.