George Eastman uses a stencil and a can of spray paint to mark the route for the 2019 Trek Across Maine on Pine Street in downtown Lewiston. Cyclists will follow the route to Bates College during the first day of the trek on Friday. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

LEWISTON — The 35th annual Trek Across Maine is set for this Friday through Sunday, and for the first time the event will feature a new route that will take cyclists through other cities and towns — including Lewiston.

George Eastman uses a stencil to mark the course for the 2019 Trek Across Maine in downtown Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

In an effort to provide Trek participants with something to do during their downtime in Lewiston, the Downtown Lewiston Association, with the assistance of city officials, organized a block party event in Lewiston’s downtown area from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday.

The Trek Across Maine is a three-day, 180-mile bicycling route that serves as the American Lung Association’s largest fundraising event. Since 1985, it has raised more than $24 million.

The new route for this year’s event will start at Brunswick Landing and take cyclists through new cities and towns, including Augusta, Auburn, Bath, Belgrade, Brunswick, Freeport and Lewiston.

According to the Trek’s website, about 1,500 cyclists and between 200 and 500 volunteers will arrive at Bates College in Lewiston between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday, following the first leg of the race. They will spend the night on campus.

Michael Dostie, board chairman of the Downtown Lewiston Association, said the first-ever Trek Downtown — Street Takeover! is scheduled for Friday, to coincide with the arrival of the Trek cyclists.

A full city block of Lisbon Street — from Ash Street to Main Street — will be closed from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., according to the Downtown Lewiston website, and starting at 2 p.m., cyclists and volunteers will be shuttled from Bates College to Lewiston’s downtown business district.

Rick Smith paints an arrow while marking the route for the 2019 Trek Across Maine on Pine Street in Lewiston. Cyclists will follow the route to Bates College during the first day of the trek on Friday. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover

Restaurants in the downtown area will be offering food and drink specials, while several food trucks, including Tripp’s Farmhouse Cafe, Isuken Co-op and El Rodeo Go, will be parked along Lisbon Street.

According to the Downtown Lewiston website, a beer garden will be set up in Dufresne Plaza, where Gritty’s and Side By Each Brewing Co. will be pouring, and at 7 p.m., the band Skosh will perform.

Dostie said Trek Across Maine coordinators reached out to Lewiston city officials and the Lewiston Downtown Association ahead of the race to discuss a plan to shuttle cyclists and volunteers to different breweries and restaurants Friday evening.

“The city officials had a huddle, turned to us and asked, ‘If we were to shut down Lisbon Street, could you do something with that for the cyclists,’” Dostie said.

Dostie said the Trek Downtown — Street Takeover! will mark the first time in decades a section of Lisbon Street has been closed for a single event over an extended period.

“The street is annually closed for the city’s holiday parade, but traffic isn’t shut down for very long,” Dostie said. “This is a huge opportunity for the city in terms of economic development. If we do this correctly, we’ll be putting (the city’s) best foot forward.”

Dostie said the Downtown Lewiston Association has been working with city departments, including Public Works, to make sure the detour routes for Lisbon Street are clearly marked.

He said without the assistance of Oxford Casino and Austin Associates, both serving as sponsors for the event, “it wouldn’t have been possible to organize this.”

The Trek Downtown event is “tailored to the Trek participant,” Dostie said, and will serve as a test to gauge the popularity of closing down Lisbon Street for other events.

“If it turns out to be a wildly successful thing,” he said, “here’s the potential to expand it next year or to bring different amenities in.”

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