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The End of Basketball at the Mecca

Photo courtesy of Jeff Kirlin

This is the final weekend you’ll be able to watch basketball at the Mecca, otherwise known as the Bangor Auditorium. By tourney time next year, the Cross Insurance Center will be open and it will be a whole new experience. So I wanted to pause for a moment and reminisce about some fun times at the auditorium!

I’ll start with basketball tournaments, because that was certainly a part of my growing up. Brewer wasn’t often in the tourney, but when we were, we were there in force! I played in the band and always loved the energy of the crowd. I still go to the tourneys because of that energy. (and because I love basketball!) I will never forget the year that #8 Brewer beat #1 Bangor. Now THAT was loud!

There was one game that was extra special. We were all wrapped up in watching the action when suddenly there was an announcement that they were stopping the game. The announcer just wanted to share with us that the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team had just beat Russia for the gold medal. Everyone stood, applauded, and cheered as the band broke into the national anthem. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about it!

Of course, there are Shrine Circus memories, including that pie in the face, courtesy of Chuckles and Bobo. They got me good! I was tasting the Brylcream that I inhaled for days after!

And finally, obviously, country concerts have been a huge part of my life in the auditorium. My most memorable concert moment was many years ago at one of our Bangor Fair shows. It was HOT that day (as it can only be in August in that auditorium with no air-conditioning) and the act (who I can’t remember) was running late. The audience was being patient and quiet…even the pigeon people. It seems, at one side of the room, a pigeon flew into one of those huge circulation fans, spewing pigeon guts all over several spectators! These wonderful folks just brushed off the feathers and such and waited for the show to begin. Only in Maine!

Thanks to my friend Jeff Kirlin for this amazing photo of the Bangor Auditorium. I can’t wait to see the new Cross Insurance Center, but the memories of the drafty, dusty, leaky-roofed auditorium will stay with me forever!

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