Dozens rally in Portland ahead of COP 21


Dozens gathered in Monument Square in Portland Saturday to rally on the eve of the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris.

Students from the Maine College of Art organized the "Turn the Tide" rally, calling for the leaders at the conference to agree on cutting carbon emissions, and transitioning to 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050.

People sang and held up signs, while others carried a giant puppet that they said was supposed to embody one of the spirits of Mother Earth.

"It means that there's a force behind this thing that I care so much about and we all care about so much and it's the uniting thing that brings us all together and have the opportunity to all come together in this way and show to the world how much we care," said Sarah Milkowski Dahlgren, the rally organizer.

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"Shop for a Cause" Day draws shoppers to Portland



Hundreds shopped in Portland Saturday to support local businesses in "Small Business Saturday."

41 different businesses participated in "Shop for a Cause" day, which coincided with "Small Business Saturday." Businesses donated a portion of the day's profits to the Preble Street Resource Center.

"It's nice to explore some of these independent stores instead of the big chains, especially on a day like today," said AJ Bouffard, who drove from Biddeford into Portland to check out the Fish & Bone store on Commercial Street.

Coffee By Design general manager Kevin Gaspardy said the company would give 10 percent of its profits Saturday from each of its five locations.

Maine train whisks passengers to North Pole

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- For the 8th year in a row, passengers can board "The Polar Express" in Portland, Maine, and be greeted by Santa on a magical trip to "the North Pole."

The narrow gauge train runs from Thanksgiving through Christmas, departing from the Ocean Gateway Visitor Center. Passengers are served hot chocolate and cookies aboard the festively decorated train and listen to a reading of "The Polar Express."

Steam shoots out from the vintage 1913 locomotive set on rails two feet apart as it makes its more than one mile journey along Casco Bay. The railway served passengers regularly from the 1870s to the 1940s.

Salvation Army hopes to raise $180K with Red Kettles



The Salvation Army kicked off its "Red Kettle" campaign Tuesday morning in order to raise money for less fortunate families to enjoy the holidays.

This year, the organization hopes to raise $180,000 by Christmas Eve, which is $40,000 more than last year, due to increased operating costs because more people are participating in Salvation Army programs.

As part of the Red Kettle campaign kick off, the Salvation Army handed out food baskets, complete with the ingredients for a Thanksgiving dinner, to families who applied for assistance.

Laura Fletcher of Westbrook has three kids: 18, 15, and 10 years old, respectively. She said she just started a new job, which recently decreased the benefits the company offers, including SNAP benefits.

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No ice skating at Deering Oaks Park because of construction

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- If you drive by Deering Oaks Park, it's hard to miss the construction going on. Crews with bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks have been in the drained pond for the past few weeks, and they plan to be there through the winter.

They're removing the buildup of leaves and debris at the bottom of the pond, which is a couple of feet thick in some parts. They're also down a gravel base and concrete to build a road.

It will allow trucks to drive around more easily when the pond is drained for cleaning a couple of times per year. It will also help prevent erosion.

Thousands of Santas dash around the Maine Mall


, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Thousands of Santas dashed around the streets near the Maine Mall, before most people were just beginning to stir Sunday morning.

2,000 plus runners and walkers participated in the second Santa Hustle New England. Half half-marathoners dressed in Santa costumes set out at 7 a.m., and another wave of 5K runners started just 15 minutes later. The participants were provided all of Santa's essentials, a hat, beard and shirt. Many people took the look much farther with elaborate Christmas themed costumes.

The Santas were treated to free beer when they crossed the finish line.

Amtrak Downeaster prepares for hundreds more travelers

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --The Amtrak Downeaster added an extra car to its train service to accommodate for the hundreds more passengers it expects to have during the holiday season.

"People are usually in good spirits. There's a little bit of stress around the holidays," said Patricia Quinn, the executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.

Quinn said she expects that there will be between 1800 and 2000 people travelling on the Downeaster every day from Wednesday to Sunday surrounding Thanksgiving. She said normally, there are about 1300 travelers per day.

Quinn said the service added an extra car that contains about 70 seats to make more room for those trying to get to their holiday destination.