It was a moment of shear joy, at least for everyone in the room except Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling.

After two weeks of highly publicized anticipation, Strimling finally made good on a Super Bowl bet and parted ways with his impeccably styled salt-and-pepper mane.

Strimling’s well-coifed wave was shaved in front of a cheering crowd of about 250 students at Presumpscot Elementary School on Friday afternoon. Also in attendance was Lance Prator, the mayor of Portland, Pennsylvania, a borough of fewer than 600 people, who made the bet with Strimling.

Major Ethan Strimling reacts while David Jones shaves a stripe down the center of his head in a gym full of students, teachers and guests at Presumpscot Elementary School in Portland on Friday. Staff photo by Derek Davis

“Does it look good now?” Strimling shouted, wearing a look of nervous excitement. “Keep going! … yeah!”

Strimling and Prator, who are both New York Giants fans, made a wager on the outcome of Super Bowl LII, after the mayors of Bangor in their respective states did the same. Strimling bet on the New England Patriots, while Prator took the Philadelphia Eagles, who prevailed, 41-33.

It was Prator’s idea to wager their hair, in addition to local goods. Strimling later found out that Prator’s hairline is already receding and suggested it wasn’t a fair bet. But he made good on his promise, anyway.


In addition to witnessing Strimling lose his hair, Prator will receive roughly $200 worth of food and alcohol donated by local businesses. Shipyard Brewing Co. donated a case of its Export ale; Rising Tide Brewing donated four-packs of IPA Soundings and Back Cove Pilsner; Hardshore Distilling Co. donated a bottle of gin; and Ready Seafood Co. donated six lobsters.

Mayor Ethan Strimling told his counterpart in Portland, Pennsylvania, that he’d shave his head if the Pats lost the Super Bowl. He kept his word. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Strimling said that Prator brought him a case of Yuengling beer, which is brewed in Pennsylvania.

Before the event, Prator said he had no idea how much Strimling’s hair meant to the community. “I didn’t realize his hair had celebrity status up here,” Prator joked.

In a move of solidarity, Prator also decided to shave his head and beard. Even though he won the bet, Prator said he’d “take one for Portland.” It was unclear to which community he was referring.

Last Friday, Strimling decided to turn an otherwise embarrassing moment into a fundraiser for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.

After the event, Strimling presented the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, which is affiliated the hospital, with over $3,000 in donations.


“That’s incredible,” said Tara Studley, the philanthropy manager for the cancer program. “It’s amazing to see what can happen over the course of the week.”

Mayor Ethan Strimling returns the favor Friday as he shaves the head of Lance Prator, the mayor of Portland, Pa., after he had his own head shaved at Presumpscot Elementary School. The two mayors made a bet on the Super Bowl. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Anyone who donated over $100 was offered the chance to shave Strimling’s head. David Jones, a Realtor who plays an antagonist for Strimling during his weekly radio appearance on WLOB, cut the first strip of hair. Others to take a swipe were Ray Richardson, the host of the WLOB show, who suggested Strimling raise money for a charity, and Stephen Betters, whose Lemonade for Kids charity and bright purple beard and hair also started with a Super Bowl bet. Betters also volunteers at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.

Strimling’s barber, Cordell Jones, who owns Cordell’s Hair Design on Forest Avenue, finished the job, cutting as close to Strimling’s scalp as possible without using a razor.

Strimling was a good sport throughout the event, hamming it up for the kids and cameras. A newly bald Strimling let the students take turns rubbing his head.

The move to parlay a lost bet into a charity fundraiser generated a week of positive press for the mayor. But it’s unclear whether that goodwill will last, keeping him a cut above the political fray in Portland City Hall, or quickly recede.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: randybillings

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