News & Events

McCartney prepares for Planet Head Day in Poland

In support of a Planet Head Day (PHD) event happening in Szczecin, Poland on June 15, Kevin McCartney, retired Geology professor at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, recently participated in a video recording—featuring him getting his head shaved and painted in the likeness of Pluto—that will be shown as part of the European festivities. The event in Poland is inspired by a similar one that McCartney originated at UMPI in 2007.

Planet Head Day at UMPI has been an event full of close-shaving, head-painting, fund-raising planetary fun. Since its inception, more than 1,000 people have donned theatrical bald caps or had their heads shaved so they could have their favorite planet, dwarf planet, moon, comet, or asteroid painted on their head. All told, the event raised about $200,000 for cancer education and relief.

This will be the 14th time that McCartney’s head has been shaved for a PHD event, and the second time since these events were temporarily discontinued in both Maine and Poland after COVID-19 shut down activities in 2020. In 2022, McCartney had his head shaved and painted by members of a Rotary Club in Lincoln, Nebraska, while he was on a sabbatical, in support of a PHD event in Poland.

McCartney has spent several sabbaticals in Poland, including a Fulbright in 2016-2017, during which he told members of the Szczecin Rotary International Club of the Planet Head Day event in northern Maine, held in support of cancer awareness and fundraising for County causes. The first Planet Head Day in Poland was in 2018, with the Polish event raising funds for a Szczecin cancer children’s hospital.

This year’s PHD in Poland will be at the Galaxie Mall in Szczecin, which in its central area has a solar system around a large fountain. The Mall estimates that 55,000 people visit the shopping center each day, and most of them will likely pass this venue.

The event will include a central stage where shaving and painting will take place. Behind the stage will be a “Mission Control Center” where “planetheads” and young “astronauts” start an educational path that leads past eight planet stations, plus Pluto, each with an interactive activity, some of them designed by academic programs at the University of Szczecin and other schools. There will be about 15 people, many of them local VIPs, who will have their heads shaved at this event.

“I have been to two of these PHD events in Poland,” McCartney said, “and these are marvelously well done, and are widely known throughout Poland.”

He noted that the city has a population of 450,000, and thus has more resources than has been available for PHDs in northern Maine.

McCartney’s head-shaving occurred in close proximity to the new 3-D Sun model at UMPI, and just a few days before the event in Poland. Joining in the fun were Michelle Howard who provided the haircut; Kate McCartney, who provided the paint job; and Kim Masse, an UMPI colleague, who also had his head shaved and painted in support of the Polish Planet Head Day.

“I originally planned to attend this event, which was to take place earlier in the year, but it was rescheduled to the early summer, when I, unfortunately, had other commitments,” he said.

McCartney expects to also participate in a PHD event presently being planned to take place later this year—likely in late October—at the Francis Malcolm Science Center in Easton.

“This will return Planet Head Day to being one of the more unusual events that marks our County calendar,” McCartney said. “This is also unusual as an international event that began in Aroostook County.”

He hopes to see the event spread to other places in Europe.