College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Portland to Greet July 14 King Tide with Community Party Event


While the French will celebrate Bastille Day on July 14, Portland residents on the same day will be able to greet another unusually high tide with the “King Tide BYO Chair Party.”        

Artists, actors and residents will mark the late-night, early-morning occasion of the “king tide” -- a high tide rising above the flood marker of 11.6 feet -- with street theatre, street sculpture, outdoor cinema featuring flood-movie trailers, puppetry and general bonhomie at one of Portland’s most vulnerable areas for tidal flooding.        

A “king tide” is a predictable, especially high tide, and the one on July 14 will reach its peak very early Monday morning at 12:36 a.m. The King Tide BYO Chair Party will be acknowledged at the corner of Cove Street and Marginal Way, East Bayside, an area known to flood extensively at high tides.        

“Trust the tide – it will be there,” said Jan Piribeck, University of Southern Maine professor of digital art and foundations and event organizer. “The tide rises at predictable times. It gives us a glimpse of what the future may look like regarding rising sea levels.”        

Details of the event are:

·      The King Tide BYO Chair Party, midnight-2 a.m., Sunday-Monday, July 13-14, corner of Cove Street and Marginal Way, East Bayside, Portland; chair set-up and activities begin at midnight, tide peaks at 12:36 a.m., special observation activity scheduled; activities include street theatre, puppetry, outdoor cinema, sculptural intervention, GPS recording; bring cameras for recording tidal observations; sponsored by University of Southern Maine, East Bayside Neighborhood Organization, The Resilience Hub, Zero Station, U-Haul and the King Tides Project; FMI, Jan Piribeck, email:, or Chris Wright, email:; free and open to the general public.  

Sea-level change is predicted to occur in the coming years all along the 3,500-mile-long coast of Maine, affecting many coastal communities, including Portland. The East Bayside site at Cove Street and Marginal Way is particularly well known for flooding in the street at high tides, Piribeck noted.        

The King Tide Party is both an art happening and a band of artists collaborating with businesses, cultural, neighborhood and educational groups and municipalities to increase awareness of the rising sea-levels phenomenon, the USM professor said.        

“There’s a curiosity about changing sea levels and their impact on Portland and Casco Bay,” Piribeck said. “We’re not trying to tell people how or what to think about this phenomenon, only that they should not ignore it.”        

The king tide event is tied to a project called “Envisioning Change: Sea Level Rise in Casco Bay,” supported in part by a grant from the University of Southern Maine’s Maine Economic Improvement Fund and under the aegis of USM’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Services. The event is being presented in cooperation with the East Bayside Neighborhood Organization, The Resilience Hub, Zero Station, U-Haul and the King Tides Project, an international observation effort.        

Piribeck said she thinks there is the beginning of a king tide initiative in Maine, “and there are many opportunities on the horizon to work with other groups who also are thinking about the king tide phenomenon,” she said.        

“It’s just ‘Look at it and think about what does this mean,’” Piribeck said about the event. “Reflect on what this means and what actions we might take to be assured our city and neighborhood will continue and thrive. We need to work with nature instead of against it.”       

For more information about tide predictions in Maine, go to