Jay Copp 2014-08-12 12:30:34
A risqué calendar generates loads of publicity for a Maine club Getting a parking ticket will never be the same again in Fort Kent. That’s Police Chief Kenneth “Doody” Michaud, writing a ticket, as “Mr. April 2015” in the Lions club calendar. His police hat sits atop his head. His gun belt straddles his waist. He’s wearing his police boots–and nothing else. A strategically placed parking meter ensures the chief won’t be arrested for indecent exposure. Everyone knows everyone else in the small town of 4,000 in northern Maine. It’s a “very Catholic [conservative]” town, residents say. But that didn’t stop Lions from posing in their birthday suits for a 2014-2015 calendar. That’s florist Rob Johnson spraying his plants, a flower pot preserving his modesty. Car buff Steve Pelletier leans against a red sports car and holds a license plate just so. Standing in a boat, fisherman Jared Boucher uses his latest catch to shield his mid-region. The calendar did upset a few folks. The local paper editorialized against it, arguing there has to be a better way to raise funds. The wife of a Lion even told Paul Berube, the project coordinator, to stop sending any emails about the project to her husband. “It was a risky project,” says Berube. “But 98 percent of the people support it.” Lions tend to get the benefit of the doubt in Fort Kent. The Lions who posed are “well-respected and well-liked,” says Mr. December 2014, David Labbe, who is a case in point. He owns Nadeau’s House of Flooring, a community fixture for 40 years. It’s also hard to oppose a project that supports valuable causes, says Berube. “The line I used with the club is if you don’t like it, don’t knock it. I tell people if you don’t want to buy the calendar you can still make a donation,” he says. The beneficiaries of the fundraiser will be a cancer fund, the University of Maine Foundation and LifeFlight of Maine, which transports patients in dire need by helicopter. Bangor and its advanced hospitals are more than a three-hour drive. Berube can personally attest to the value of LifeFlight. About 15 years ago, while in an isolated area, an ATV flipped on him. “I had a cracked pelvis bone. I was bleeding internally. The helicopter saved my life,” he says. The all-male Fort Kent Lion Club is the state’s largest with 102 members. The club also did a nude calendar in 2006. Eyebrows were raised then, too, but the publicity helped the club add 22 members. “The calendar does not split the club. It makes us stronger,” says Berube. The calendar sells for $20 ($24.95 with shipping, www.fortkentlions.org). The club has raised $38,000 so far. Its 2006 nude calendar netted $45,000. Coverage by the local NBC station helped spur sales. The negative editorial also actually boosted sales. A boom in sales is expected from a festival in late summer that will draw an expected 60,000 folks to the area. Making the calendar proved to be a bonding experience as members tried to out-do one another in taking creative photos and using props. “They’d see a photo and say, ‘I can do better than that,’” says Berube. Curiously, featured Lions didn’t bother to harden their abs at the gym before posing. “What you see is what you get. They didn’t get haircuts or have their nails trimmed,” says Berube. But it was another story after the calendar came out. Labbe dropped 15 pounds. “My 14-year-old daughter said enough is enough,” he says.
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