Caps Are Back at Congress Square Park


Some of the Colorful Hand Knit Caps that Line the Parameter of Congress Square Park This Year.

Fred Prown Reaches for a Purple Cap on the Cap Line: “This is my favorite color.”

Regina Picks a Hand Knit Cap from the Cap Line at Congress Square Park Yesterday.

Jeanne McCabb, Mother of Jacob, 6, and Jeremiah, 5, Selected Caps from the Cap Line Yesterday.

Marion, Maggy, Liz, Elaine, Rosanne, Alice, Marcia, Andrea and other volunteer knitters are part of this year’s 5th annual knit a cap – Chase the Chill – project.  Hand knit caps of all styles and colors are hung on rope and strung around the parameter of Congress Square Park by a group of knitters, mostly from the West End of Portland.  It’s a one day event that is repeated on Valentine’s Day each year.

It heralds the beginning of the cold winter season when many are in need of warm clothing. Anyone in need of a cap for the upcoming cold season is welcome to take one.  And yesterday people were helping themselves, despite the warm temperatures we are experiencing in southern Maine.

Several men who said they were homeless plucked a hat or two from the cap line, but said they didn’t want their photos taken or to be quoted.  Their looks said it all:  thank you for not forgetting us.

Jeanne McCabb, mother of two sons, says that usually she and her sons come by to visit the Children’s Museum, but they are disappointed they can’t do that any more.  That’s because it is moving out to Thompson’s Point.  “We miss it,” she said.  They live in the area.  (See below right photo of Jeanne and her two sons).

Regina, originally from South Sudan, has lived in Portland for 15 years.  Her English is limited, but she made it clear to that she liked the colorful hand made knit caps and picked one from among the many hanging on the cap line.

Fred Prown who was passing through Congress Square Park stopped to admire the cap line and ended  up picking up one.  “Purple is my favorite color,” he said as he reached for a purple cap knitted of thick yarn that looked very warm.

Prown, an American,  said he is leaving for Thailand where he teaches the English language to children  shortly. He met his wife there and they are expecting their first child in three weeks.  He needs to obtain a special work permit, but doesn’t anticipate any problems getting one.  Once he was a Sunday School teacher at a Unitarian Church in Maine and learned how much he enjoyed teaching children. (See above right photo of Fred).

There are about 8 – 10 core volunteers involved in this project according to Rosanne Graff, organizer of the group.  During the warm summer months, the group meets at Congress Square Park.  During the colder months, they meet at the Reiche School Center.  But, she said that the pandemic has made it made it impossible for the group to meet on a regular basis.  Graff is a volunteer columnist for The West End News.

Each cap has a tag attached to it with care instructions on it and a handwritten message  from the creator:  “Hope you Enjoy And Stay safe.  Elaine.”