Bath dusts off welcome mat for new residents

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BATH — Newcomers to the city are encouraged to attend a “Welcome to Bath” night at the Maine Maritime Museum Monday, Feb. 5.

The free 6-8 p.m. event, to be held at the 243 Washington St. museum’s Long Reach Hall, will identify resources, answer questions and showcase ways to get involved in the city. It is not necessary to RSVP.

“Welcome to Bath” debuted around 2004, when Mari Eosco was director of Main Street Bath, which is organizing the event. The City Council chairwoman is now interim director, and said she saw a good opportunity to bring the program back. Irene Drago, who writes the blog “Bath Time Society,” is chairing the event.

The last “Welcome to Bath” was held around 2011-12, when Jennifer Geiger was director, and Eosco said she hopes it will now become an annual tradition. She still runs into people who attended the original programs and talk about how people they met then remain good friends today.

The original event, organized by new residents who have since moved to Florida, was advertised through emails and posters. “But now, with social media, and how people are so interconnected, I don’t really know how to gauge how many people are seeing (word of) this, because it’s being shared all over the place,” Eosco said Jan. 19. “It’ll be interesting to see what we get for a turnout.”

The barrage of information increasingly available through social media platforms such as Facebook could also dictate the nature of questions asked Feb. 5.

“In the original ‘Welcome to Bath,’ there were a lot of questions about trash and recycling, really basic questions, because back then people weren’t really utilizing the internet like they are now,” Eosco said. “We’ve become much more savvy with websites, and people being able to find the information they need.”

City officials will be on hand to answer what questions may arise. Food and  beverages will be available, icebreakers will be held, and printed information about elements of Bath life will be on tables.

“It’s a great way, we have found in the past, to talk about what the mission of Main Street is, and we’ve had quite a few volunteers that we’ve found through the ‘Welcome to Bath’ night,” Eosco said. “But I want to be promoting volunteering in general around the city, as a way to get involved in the community, (and) a great way to meet people and get networked.”

Although new residents can make connections through social media, “there’s no physical way of people coming together and being welcomed in person,” Eosco said when explaining her desire to bring back the event. “It’s such a simple way for people to gather, and to have that face-to-face welcome to your community.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.