‘You’ve Been Hit!’ The History of Portland, Maine’s Valentine’s Day Phantom
Since 1976, a mysterious group of phantoms, or bandits, have shown their love for Portland by putting up hearts of all shapes and sizes around town on Valentine's Day. The identity of the Phantom is one of the best-kept secrets ever. It's amazing that after 47 years, none of the bandits have been unmasked. And as much as we want to know who they are, it is so much wicked better that we DON'T know. Thank you phantoms, for bringing the love every year!
Who is Portland's Valentine's Day Phantom?
From what we can tell, it is not just one person, but a group of people. They spread out as teams. Many have community connections to major buildings and landmarks around the city. No one has ever uncovered a bandit's identity. If the Portland Police know, they're not talking. One year, a local media outlet caught the bandits/phantoms in the act, but the bandits pelted the TV reporter with snowballs until they ran away. Don't mess with the phantom!
Where are some of the places the Valentine's Day Phantom have put up hearts?
Just walk around the Old Port on Valentine's Day, and you'll see hundreds of small hearts on storefronts. But the Phantom likes to go big as well, and giant hearts have been seen on:
- The Casco Bay Bridge (you could see the heart when the bridge went up!)
- The Portland Museum of Art
- The Portland Public Library
- Fort Gorges
- City Hall
- The Giant City Snowbank on the end of Commercial Street
- Portland Observatory
Is It Dangerous Being the Valentine's Day Phantom?
It can be! In 1985, there were reports from Casco Bay Lines officials of a near miss. Very late on Valentine's Eve, a ferry came very close to hitting a dinghy right off of Fort Gorges. After a Coast Guard investigation, the small ship could not be found. But a giant heart adorned the Fort the next morning. The Phantom had struck again!