The 2011 Chowder Report

November 28, 2011


They say that repetition is the mother of skill and that held true for the fifth annual serving of the white soup this past Saturday. Upon Al McPhee’s uncle Donald’s old three-burner range, we were able to keep the chowder river at a steady flow with over sixty gallons of piping hot “Mediocre at Best” Clam Chowder for three straight hours. All totaled, the Chowder Booth and its crack staff  churned out 1140 cups plus six quarts of the Boss Hog classic.

The project starts early Friday morning with 40lbs of diced celery and onion, 150 lbs of diced potato and more than 200 pounds of chopped clams. The mediocre gets cooked and chilled and placed in buckets. Then, right up on the Union Street sidewalk, we mix the base and cream and heat it to perfection for the Christmas Strollers. This year, like every year, we had Mike the Mauler Gilpin working the chowder oar. He also brought Mike McGinnis, his partner in the award-winning  BBQ Team, “Cue and A Half Men.”  Mike and Mike were instrumental in pulling off the best ever soup kitchen of the past five years. Delightful Debbie O’Brien was on hand to help serve again this year. New to the chowder booth this year were many members of the White family – Mark, Tricia, Krista, Kathy and Erik -  all worked feverishly to keep the line moving and smash the old record of 1000 cups set last year. Rockland Selectman Larry Chaffee got in on the action ladling out a couple hundred cups himself. “Too Easy” Frankie Aicardi also worked the ladle for a few hundred cups.






All the help was deeply appreciated; and we never could have pulled it off without everyone’s hard work and enthusiasm.

 Rockland Parks Commish, Steve Murphy, was back again this year with the Atlantic Coffee Coffee Station. Delicious custom coffees were made to order alongside the chowder. Murphy’s coffee station was the rage of the stroll this year as PJ O’Rourke put the special touch on the custom coffees.

But the real star of the day was Anita Marie’s owner/operator, expert, gourmet caterer and the unofficial caterer of the Rockland Eagles, the Bite Me Bait Co., and, Vivian Anastasia. We knew the count went past 1000 when we ran out of cups and spoons, so Vivian generously offered us all the paper cups and spoons we needed to keep the flow of chowder going. Thank you, Vivian.

The warm, balmy late November evening, with nearly zero wind, made perfect conditions for this year’s Christmas Stroll. Townspeople came out in droves to occupy Union Street in the spirit of Christmas. From the fire station to Biggins’ North Pole, it was all of Rockland’s finest working together to spread peace, joy and goodwill to the thousands who attended.

Chiocca with Tom and Pat Foley


Down from the great white North was Wild Bill McCormack.

Uncle Dale with his new look and Auntie Evie


RPD was out in full force for the first ever Santa's Tazing booth.

Deputy Chief Eramo and crew were busy all night. No arrests were reported.

Law and Order made appearances from Biggins to the Chowder booth.


Missing from the chowder booth this year was musical favorite, The Road Runners. The Road Runners are always sponsored by the Banner Irish Pub at the Stroll, so I guess it was only fitting that they play in front of the Banner this year. Brenda and Eddie have been chomping at the bit to be included in the stroll every year and this year they got their wish. Eddie used the opportunity to announce he is going into the ice cream business by giving out hundreds of free ice cream cones. Eddie always wanted to serve ice cream cones from his storefront; but he never wanted to step on any toes of competitors. Now, with Union Station gone, he has added a full line of ice cream. Brenda had the ancient eatery decked out in Christmas garb from porch to porch. The Christmas Martinis were a huge hit with the Strollers. The Banner Irish Pub -  always getting better!

 The Rockland Lions had a full pride of Lions to serve up a mountain of fried dough and gallons of hot chocolate. The Rockland Lions will be hosting their annual Tree Sale next Saturday, December 10th, at Walgreens.




Everyone knew that Bob and Chris Biggins would step up huge for the Stroll, but they actually managed to exceed everyone’s wildest expectations. From the Welcome to the North Pole sign to their own fire barrel, professional Christmas Carolers and a totally decked out turn-of-the-century mansion house, Biggins hit a home run for Rockland. The lines wrapped around the ancient property; and instead of tears in the procession line, it  was filled with smiles, joy and happiness for all those who got in. Rockland thanks the Biggins family for their awesome and incredible contribution to this year’s stroll.


Rockland Harbor Master, Larry Ryan, was roasting up all night at the Fire Barrel. Special thanks to Larry for coming early and staying late.







The 2011 Rockland Christmas Stroll sponsored by Rockland Friends was the absolute best ever. A thousand thanks to  the Rockland Friends Organization for their selfless service to the town of Rockland.