NORTH YARMOUTH — “We Can Be heroes,” the late David Bowie’s musical message to the world, is the theme of this year’s North Yarmouth Fun Day.
The caped crusaders who grace the cover of the Fun Day book aside, those heroes include the police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and members of the military who protect residents; the parents and teachers who provide guidance, and people like Brian Sites – who will be honored at the Saturday, Sept. 17, event as the town’s Distinguished Citizen for 2016.
Most Fun Day events take place at Village Green on U.S. Route 115. A complete schedule is available at northyarmouthevents.org.
Sites, 44, a Virginia native, has worked in television production with World Championship Wrestling, taught English in Brazil, and earned a degree in public administration before he and his wife Dee – who lived in Fort Kent and Bangor – moved to North Yarmouth in 2011.
“We wanted to be someplace that had a more rural feel, but be pretty closely located to more urban areas,” Sites said in an interview Aug. 31. “… North Yarmouth not only provided that, (but) reminded me of where I grew up as a kid.”
“And the folks aren’t so bad, either,” the father of two daughters quipped.
Despite being “from away,” Sites quickly established himself as a major thread in the community tapestry, first on the School Administrative District 51 communications committee, then the town’s Budget Committee. He chaired the Safe Bike and Walkways Committee and, when that group was joined with the Parks Committee to form the Parks and Recreation Committee, he chaired that panel, too.
Sites is also the go-to person for donations to the Cumberland Woodbank, which recently moved to North Yarmouth. He is also a deacon at the Cumberland Congregational Church.
“The simple fact that everyone was so inviting, and so open to hearing a fresh perspective,” encouraged him to broaden his scope of community involvement, said Sites, who is vice president of business development and implementation at Volunteers of America.
With help from several town committees, elected officials and other residents, Sites was also instrumental last year in establishing the “Start Here” brand for North Yarmouth.
“We saw this as an opportunity to say, ‘Look, let’s take this branding concept, let’s apply it in a much larger sense, and use it as a means to unify the town behind a set of organized themes that are prevalent,” Sites said in an interview last November.
“It was more of a need that was arising across the town in general,” he added, noting that “you want it to be more community-oriented than committee oriented. To be more inclusive that way.”
The brand reflects three principles of North Yarmouth – its history, community and commerce – and celebrates assets like parks, scenic roads, river access, historic sites, entrepreneurial spirit and civic engagement.
The “Start Here” concept reflects a desire to have people start their families and businesses in North Yarmouth, and to enjoy the town’s recreational assets by starting their runs or bike or kayak rides there, Sites said last week.
“It lends itself to a whole lot of other areas of growth for the town, so it fit with where we were at the time,” he added.
A decade from now, he said, he would like to see North Yarmouth as a sustainable community, where the tax burden doesn’t force people to leave after their kids graduate from high school, and where there are sufficient resources to keep businesses in town.
At the same time, he wants North Yarmouth to retain the “charm and character it possesses now” that lured him to town in the first place.
Jason Raven, who chairs the North Yarmouth Events Committee behind Fun Day, said he and fellow group member Darla Hamlin nominated Sites as this year’s Distinguished Citizen.
“I just think it’s a no-brainer,” Raven said, noting that Sites is “very unusual in that he hasn’t been in town very long, and he’s not very old. Those are usually the two first criteria you have to have to be a Distinguished Citizen.”
Raven added that Sites’ volunteer work “has just been unprecedented probably for somebody that’s been in town five years. We thought it was cool to have somebody who was able to step in and make an immediate impact on the town, and serve as a role model.”
Raven pitched the “We Can Be Heroes” theme to the Events Committee soon after Bowie’s death in January, and “everybody thought that it really resonated,” he said.
People are invited to dress in superhero costumes for a Parade of Heroes at 1:45 p.m., and they can act out feats like smashing through brick walls and performing rescues during the 3 p.m. Hero Obstacle Course. A loaner cape and mask are available for those who’ve left their hero tights at home.
The Skyline 5K kicks things off at 8 a.m. at Skyline Farm, 95 The Lane, and the Fun Day parade follows at 9 a.m. The event’s opening ceremony, featuring the American Legion Post 91 Color Guard and the Greely High School Chorus, is at 10 p.m.
Other events throughout the day, including the 1:30 p.m. Distinguished Citizen presentation, include a diaper derby, dog agility demonstration, cribbage tournament, balloon show, and hula hooping with Nikki Hunt. A bean supper, held next door to Village Green at the fire station, wraps up the day at 5 p.m.
Brian Sites will be honored as North Yarmouth’s Distinguished Citizen of 2016 at Fun Day on Sept. 17.