Pro Portsmouth, Inc. is a non-profit organization established in 1977 with the production of the first Market Square Day. At its heart, the group began as a result of a grassroots effort by a group of people who wanted to make a positive impact on their community.
Created to celebrate the renovation and beautification of Downtown Portsmouth - and, in particular, Market Square - the Market Square Day Festival has grown in size along with the growth and popularity of Portsmouth. It is estimated that between 60,000 - 80,000 people walk through Downtown Portsmouth on that one day enjoying the entertainment, products and food offered by artists, crafters and merchants - many from the Seacoast area. Folks all over the region mark their calendar – the second Saturday in June – and head to Market Square for this Portsmouth tradition.
Pro Portsmouth became a member of the First Night® Alliance in 1986 when it produced First Night® Portsmouth on the Seacoast. Ringing in the New Year with visual and performing art has created an increased awareness and appreciation for the many talented and gifted artists and musicians who make their home in New England. Successful – and anticipated - elements of First Night that continue as ‘tradition include a Fireworks Display, Ice Sculptures and Street Dance. This celebration gives our Community the opportunity to come together as one, reflecting on the year that has passed and looking forward with hope and great anticipation to the year ahead. (And the date – never changes: December 31st)
We added another event to our program in the Spring of 2000 - Children's Day. On the first Sunday in May each year, attracting children of all ages, this festival combines activities, entertainment and, usually, an ice cream sundae - all sponsored, hosted and supported by the Downtown Merchants, area companies, civic organizations and volunteers of the Seacoast. From a cruise aboard the Isles of Shoals M/V Thomas Laighton to a "photo - op" with a favorite friend from Character Island, the day is filled with something for everyone.
Our newest event, "Summer in the Street", became a reality in 2003. This program creates pedestrian friendly areas (street closures) allowing for the programming of musicians, bands, dance groups and creative activities in Downtown Portsmouth. Typically, Summer in the Street takes place on Pleasant Street - right at the Square on Saturday evenings throughout the Summer.
After thirty five years of serving the Seacoast, Pro Portsmouth continues to focus on its Mission - supporting the Arts, History, Culture and Community of the Seacoast. Our history and our involvement in creating “community” are based on our relationships with people – volunteers, business partners and fellow non-profits. To those people - past and present – who have given of their time, energy, talents and resources, thank you. Here’s to the future – let’s keep our Community strong.