AUGUSTA – The Maine state bird is the chickadee. The state flower is the pine cone. The state animal is a moose. Now, the state soft drink is Moxie.

Surrounded by Moxie diehards wearing blaze orange, Gov. John Baldacci signed into law Friday a bill that makes Moxie the official soft drink of Maine. The drink was invented in Maine, is celebrated each July at a festival in Lisbon, and has a strong following of drinkers and supporters who tell tales of how the bitter-tasting drink makes them strong.

When supporters testified for the bill in March, they said the dictionary describes the word “moxie” as being synonymous with energy, pep, courage, determination, know-how and expertise – words that also describe Mainers, they said.

Before signing the bill Friday, Baldacci and sponsor Sen. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, showed a little moxie of their own.

Moxie supporter and Maine humorist Gary Crocker handed a cold one to the governor, saying, “I iced that this morning in West Gardiner, Maine.”

Rotundo and Baldacci posed for the cameras with Moxies in their hands, then toasted.

“To Moxie and the people of Maine,” Rotundo said.

“Maine has Moxie today and every day, the official state soft drink,” Baldacci said.

He then started to sign the law.

Wait a minute, Rotundo said, suggesting they should take a sip.

“Everyone’s watching,” Crocker dared.

Both drank.

“Aaaahhhhhh,” Rotundo said. “This will get us through anything.”

“It’s good,” Baldacci said. “I can feel the roots coming back,” he said, referring to his bald head, which prompted laughter from those gathered in his office. “That’s good stuff. This is part of the battle plan to save the bases.”

He finally started to sign, but only had two pens. (Baldacci often signs his name on bills using a dozen pens so he can give them away after the signing.) Lisbon “Moxie Man” Frank Anicetti sprang forth, giving the governor a bunch of orange Moxie pens. “Frank, you’re always thinking,” Baldacci said, chuckling.

As the cameras clicked, the governor signed. Moxie supporters, including Lewiston’s Fred Goldrup, who asked Rotundo to sponsor the bill, stood behind him, all smiles.

On the day the law takes effect this fall, Baldacci said he’ll visit Anicetti in Lisbon, “and we’ll have a Moxie.”

In response to a reporter’s question, Baldacci said the Moxie bill signing comes at a good time. Maine needs a boost now with the challenges it faces, he said. The law “lets the rest of the country know Maine has Moxie. Now we have it officially.”

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