BRISTOL, Maine — Reader’s Digest magazine is looking for the nicest place in America -- and people in the Maine town of Bristol think they might be it.
Bristol has been chosen as the 'Nicest Place in Maine', the result of an anonymous nomination from a reader of the magazine. The magazine’s choice was based on the writer’s account of the local Bristol Fire and Rescue volunteers helping people in storms and power outages.
A portion of the nomination for Bristol reads as follows:
"When the Patriots’ Day storm hit the East Coast in 2007, it was the local fire chief who knocked on my door to see if I was okay, and my neighbor brought up firewood by the armful, so that I would have heat. On one occasion, a major storm sent rainwater pouring through our light fixtures, and our local handyman came by at 11 p.m., fearing for my safety."
"It's neighbor helping neighbor," says Bristol Fire Chief Paul Leeman, Jr.
Longtime First responder Jeri Pendleton says it's just what they all do.
"Bristol is pretty much a retirement community, and a lot of people live alone,” says Pendleton. "When there’s an emergency like that, usually weather related, we will go and check and make sure they have heat, food. Neighbors are helpful too, but not everyone has a neighbor nearby."
So, Pendleton says, the Fire and Rescue volunteers become the neighbors.
That kind of attitude is what earned Bristol the "nicest place" honor for Maine, and now the Reader’s Digest contest is encouraging people to vote online to select a national 'Nicest Place'.
The nominee for New Hampshire is the small town of Pembroke, the nomination calling it the "image of the perfect 1950’s era town".
But in Bristol, people like store owner B.J. Russell see no reason why their town shouldn’t be chosen.
"Nicest place I’ve been," Russell says, adding that people look out for each other.
Bristol’s beauty and people drew Stephanie Shocki, a new second grade teacher for the Bristol school.
"When we were looking for a house, my husband showed me all sorts of places up and down the coast. I said, 'Those are nice, but I want to be in Bristol,'" recalled Shocki. "I said, 'I want to be in a cape in Bristol.'”
And so, they moved to the nicest place in Maine.