Triathletes will swim in the Westbrook river where a giant snake has been repeatedly spotted

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Happy long weekend.

What we’re talking about

Despite the fact that there’s potentially A GIANT ANACONDA SWIMMING AROUND IN THE PRESUMPSCOT RIVER, a triathlon event is scheduled in Westbrook on Sept. 10, according to a news release we got today from Major League Triathlon:

Both professionals and amateurs will be joining Westbrook’s very own favorite anaconda, Wessie the Snake, in the Presumpscot River for the swim. Athletes will then ride through downtown Westbrook and run along the river, finishing in Riverbank Park.

Amateur triathletes will compete at 7:30 am, and the pros will race at 11:30 am.

As we reported earlier this week, the snakeskin found along the bank of the Presumpscot was identified as belonging to a green anaconda — the bigger of the anaconda species — which is known for swimming fast and eating huge animals.

To be clear: There’s so far been no evidence to show that the skin belonged to the same animal reportedly spotted twice in the area — nor that there’s actually a live anaconda. And if there is, based on the size of the skin, “it’s not large enough to kill a human,” according to John Placyk, a University of Texas at Tyler herpetologist who tested it. 

But it got me wondering what a swimming anaconda looks like. In case you’re curious, it looks like this.

Yeah, I’m all set. Have fun swimming, triathletes.


Here are a few things to do on this long weekend — Art Walk is tonight. Fervent locavore David Levi is celebrating the grand opening of his new Italian restaurant, Rossobianco, at 5 p.m. Saturday night. There’s also a Gene Wilder double feature at St. Lawrence Arts Center that night from 5 to 9 p.m. ZZ Top is playing Thompson’s Point Sunday night. On Monday, stay in and binge-watch “Stranger Things” on Netflix. It’s supposed to rain.

Money to fund study of proposed train between Portland and Lewiston falls short, advocates say — Jake Bleiberg digs into the conflict between the Department of Transportation and advocates of the proposed line: “This is not the first issue that train study has run into. Since passing, the legislated study of the train line, which boosters argue will be an economic boon to Lewiston and Auburn and hope to eventually connect up to Montreal, has been repeatedly delayed and passed from organization to organization.”

One year after that iconic and horrible photo of the dead Syrian boy, his father says nothing has changed — The Associated Press reports: “The father of a 3-year-old boy whose lifeless body photographed on a Turkish beach drew the world’s attention to the plight of refugees says little has changed in the year since.”

If you missed it yesterday, read Jake’s story of a Syrian family who safely made it to Portland after a four-year ordeal.

The Big Idea

The national economic implications of a taco truck on every corner — I jokingly (but only kind of!) pitched this idea today, but someone beat me to it. Philip Bump of The Washington Post reports:

A supporter of Donald Trump appeared on MSNBC’s “All In” on Thursday night to offer a vision of a bleak, delicious future.

“My culture is a very dominant culture, and it’s imposing – and it’s causing problems,” Marco Gutierrez of Latinos for Trump told Joy Ann Reid. “If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”

That’s a serious charge, worthy of being considered seriously. Although easy access to inexpensive Mexican food would be a boon for hungry Americans, what would the inevitable presence of those trucks do to the American economy? How could our country accommodate an explosion of trucks at that scale?

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.