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Public Invited to Observe Oct. 9 “King Tide” At Portland’s MoonTide Garden, Ocean Gateway Pier


As long as there is a moon in the sky, there will be low tides and high tides. Sea-level rise will make the high tides higher, with inevitable consequences for coastal communities, according to Maine’s geological experts. 


University of Southern Maine art students and faculty and the newly formed King Tide Party art collective will observe Portland’s full-moon tide – also known as a “king tide” – with a special event at noon on Thursday, Oct. 9, at the city’s waterfront public-art site, MoonTide Garden, Ocean Gateway Pier, located just east of the intersection of Commercial and India streets. 


The king tide, expected to peak at 12:09 p.m. at a height of 11.39 feet, will be observed with a mix of art and science activities, according to Jan Piribeck, USM professor of art, under the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. It is the third time since December 2013 that the USM professor has organized such king-tide activities, and the October event is expected to engage the public and provoke conversation. The event is presented by the King Tide Party collective: Christopher Byron, Keith Fitzgerald, Megan Grumbling, Caroline Losneck, Blainor McGough, Jan Piribeck and Kelly Rioux, in collaboration with the Gulf of Maine King Tides Project. 


“The King Tide Party is an on-going observation and interaction with the unusually high tides of the year,” Piribeck said. “The events are gaining traction, and there is no end in sight. We expect that other artists will join in the observation this month and in the future.” Additionally, Piribeck is encouraging her students to participate in the Gulf of Maine King Tide Photo Contest being held in three states and two Canadian provinces. 


“We hope the public will gain an awareness that sea levels are changing in Maine, but we’re not trying to tell people specifically what to do with this information,” the USM professor added. “That is up to individuals and communities to decide.” 


The King Tide Party is an example of the public outreach and community engagement that is integral to USM’s mission of being “Maine’s Metropolitan University.” 


The details of the event are:

  • King Tide Party: Portland, 12-2 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 9, MoonTide Garden, 14 Ocean Gateway Pier; theatrical performances, temporary sculpture installation, puppetry, weather-balloon flight; hosted by USM Art Department and King Tide Party in collaboration with Gulf of Maine King Tides Project and King Tides Project International; free and open to the public; for more information, contact Jan Piribeck at 207-400-6829 or janp@maine.edu
  • Installation at MoonTide Garden begins Wednesday, Oct. 8; monitoring, mapping and photographing of six possible flood sites on the peninsula to take place on Oct. 7-9. 

Piribeck noted that artists have always been observers and reporters. Nowadays, she said, it is more common for them to be analysts and even activists, particularly regarding environmental and social phenomena. Student participation in the King Tide Party is through Piribeck’s 2D design course and her special-topics art course, “Shaping the Terrain,” which focuses on sea-level change and examines how human beings shape and are shaped by their environment. The professor also has initiated “Envisioning Change,” a Digital Humanities project that visualizes sea-level change over a 200-year period (1900-2100) in Casco Bay. 


For this upcoming King Tide Party, the site will be Portland’s MoonTide Garden, a public artwork installed in 2007 by Mags Harries and Lajos Hedér on the waterfront. 


“Part of our motivation for having a party at this site to call attention to the public artwork,” Piribeck said. “It’s a beautiful place to watch the tide come in.” 

More than 30 participants are expected to take part in the King Tide Party. The event installation will begin on Wednesday, Oct. 8, when students wearing blue hats and safety vests will mark the location of a 3-foot-high water line projected from high annual tide (HAT) data and indicating where sea-level rise could occur.


Later in the semester, they will create a public installation on the Portland peninsula, coordinated by the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment and supported by the Limulus Fund at the Maine Community Foundation. GPS monitoring and mapping of the anticipated flooding also will be done. 


For more information about the USM Art Department, go to 



For more information about the Gulf of Maine King Tides Project and its photo contest, go to

http://gulfofmaine.kingtides.net/  and 



For more information about the MoonTide Garden, go tohttp://harriesheder.com/project/moontide-gardens/ 


For more information about the King Tides Project International, go to http://kingtides.net/



Photo Caption: Nathan Broaddus, a USM graduate student, monitors the street flooding from an observation platform at Marginal Way and Cove Street, Portland during the last king tide on July 14. The platform was created by Portland artists Chris Byron, Carrie Losneck and Kelly Rioux (Liz Bieber photo).

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The photo was taken at the King Tide Party on July 14, 2014 (Bastille Day!). Pictured is Nathan Broaddus who is standing on an "observation deck" built out of recycled materials; it is placed in close proximity to the storm drain where the water bubbles up so that King Tide observers have a place to stand and watch! The location in Portland, Maine floods regularly. In Nathan's hand is a GPS receiver he used to trace the outline of the inundation that occurred at Marginal Way and Cove Street in Portland. See map below. 


Photo Credit: Liz Bieber

Observation Deck: Chris Byron, Kelly Rioux and Carrie Losneck 

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The blue area on the map shows the outline of the flood at Marginal Way and Cove Street, Portland, ME traced between 12:30 and 1:30 a.m. on July 14, 2014. The red outline is from the December 4th, 2013 King Tide event. The water was much lower on the 4th due to many variables. The outline will be traced again on October 9th, 2014. 

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Bring your own chair to sit and watch: the rising tides; street theater written by Megan Grumbling and performed by actors Karen Ball, Deirdre Fulton, Corey Gagne, and Tess Van Horn; puppetry by Blainor McGough of Mayo Street Arts; trailers of flood movies in a temporary outdoor cinema (U-Haul Truck); listen to King Tide interviews by Caroline Losneck and interact with a sculptural intervention Observation Shack by Christopher Byron and Kelly Rioux. Additional activities will include Walking the Line, a GPS recording of the perimeter of the water’s edge. Audience participation is encouraged; bring cameras and cell phones to make images and document the happening! 


The King Tide Party is both a happening and a band of artists whose aim is to cooperate with businesses, cultural organizations, educational institutions neighborhood organizations and municipalities to host situational events (parties) to observe and interact with King Tides, the highest tides of the year. Interactions take the form of sculptural and environmental installations, audio and video recordings, projections, performance art, puppetry and more.


WHEN: MIDNIGHT – 2 AM, MONDAY MORNING, JULY 14 (Bastille Day!) -Chair set up and activities will begin at midnight; the tide is predicted to peak to 11.73 feet at 12:36 a.m., when a special observation will take place.



Walking or biking is best, but autos can be left at the Park and Ride lot on Marginal Way


WHY: AWARENESS/COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT - To generate awareness on an important issue that will impact the future of Portland’s waterfront and to prompt community engagement through the arts.



Jan Piribeck janp@maine.edu  

Chris Wright christopher.byron.wright@gmail.com


The King Tide BYO Chair Party is tied to a project called Envisioning Change: Sea Level Rise in Casco Bay and is being supported in part by a grant from the USM (University of Southern Maine) MEIF (Maine Economic Improvement Fund). The program 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 hub for the King Tides community.

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King Tides are the highest tides of the year. Elevations flooded during today's King Tides will be flooded more often in the future as sea levels rise. King Tides offer a glimpse of the future here in Portland, and around the world. Photos and videos of Portland and Casco Bay tides that have risen to 11.6' or above will be posted on the King Tide Events pages to the left.  


The first King Tide of 2014 took place on January 2nd, and coincided with the massive winter storm, Hercules. According to NOAA Tides Online, the high tide rose to 12.01 feet at approximately 11:09 a.m. Flooding occurred in low lying areas on the peninsula, and the water mixed with ice and snow. 


In 2013 there were seven tides with a predicted height of 11.6 feet or above in Portland. The last of these occurred at 11:22 a.m. on December 4th. A Portland King Tide event was organized jointly by University of Southern Maine/College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (USM/CAHS) and Maine College of Art (MECA) faculty and students. It took place on December 4th.


The East Bayside King Tide Party, which is linked to the Envisioning Change project, began at Zero Station Gallery with opening remarks by event organizers and Edward Gleason, Director of the USM Planetarium. It then proceded to Knudsen Pond, a site on Cove Street and Marginal Way, where participants observed and interacted with the tides as they came up through the storm drains and innundated the location. The party was organized in cooperation with Zero Station, the East Bayside Neighborhood Organization and the Resilience Hub + Portland Permaculture.


Summary of Edward Gleason's opening remarks: THE_DAILY_ASTRONOMER.pdf


Media Coverage:

Portland Phoenix link here. 

MPBN link here.

WMTW link here. 

WCSH link here.

WMPG Interview link here.

Portland Press Herald here.


MECA (Maine College of Art) faculty and students created a Pop-Up-Shop on Commercial Street near the Portland waterfront, where they distributed King Tide memorabilia. Shopkeepers took on the personae of a scuba diver and a mermaid. The event was tied to MECA's Public Engagement program. See images under King Tide Art.


USM/MECA (Maine College of Art) Collaboration: King_Tide_Event_final.doc

East Bayside King Tide Party Information Sheet: INFO_KingTide.docx

East Bayside King Tide Party Poster: KingTide02.pdf

Mylatestart Blog: http://mylatestart.com/its-a-king-tide-party-and-youre-invited/


For more information on future King Tide events contact: Jan Piribeck janp@maine.edu


For more information on national King Tide intitiatives visit kingtides.net.

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