Category Archives: InCity Yum Yums

An Ounce of Prevention

Elizabeth Street School Baseball (May 13, 1947) GC36
Worcester: Elizabeth Street School baseball – 1947. From the Worcester Historical Museum collection.

By Edith Morgan

Prevention is always better and cheaper than trying to cure the disease, after the trouble has really begun. But, unfortunately, we seem to be reactive rather than preventive. That mindset is pretty evident when one looks at our budgets on the State and Local levels and it is worse at the National level.

As a retired school teacher, I can remember how, in Kindergarten, I could pretty accurately predict which students would have trouble mastering the basic skills needed to transition from “learning to read“ to “reading to learn,” which happens after fourth grade. And those children who do not make that transition at that time, seem doomed to years of remediation and often, ultimately, end up not graduating or in the “school-to-jail pipeline.” Remediation and jail are expensive for the taxpayers – and often go on for many years.

So it makes sense to try a variety of things to get our children started right, early. We now have full-day Kindergarten for all our Worcester public school pupils. That should help give many a good, early start. But there is still a great divide even that early between those children who have gone to pre-school and those who have not. Since pre-school is quite expensive, it does not take a genius to figure out who is able to take advantage of the early learnings offered by pre-school. (It is true that if a child has a disability, special education is available from age three on.)

There is now proposal before the Worcester Public Schools Administration to create a combination K-1 grade, which would enable those needing more time to master the skills needed to get into grade 2 to remain in this class another year and get a good foundation.

This proposal is in the hands of the school administration for study and will be presented to the Worcester School Committee for approval.

Whatever comes out of that study, we know it will mean additional costs at the beginning of school. This means that the State of Massachusetts will have to appropriate money for this plan, if accepted. We expect to be told that there is no money (what else is new?!), but there is always lots of money for remediation, and for jail …

Many years ago, when I was still active in the public schools north of here, the director of special education and I used to discuss just what could be done to avoid the great and increasing burden of special education and remediation. We both agreed that if every child entering our schools were to have an IEP (Individual Educational Plan) we could be ready to teach each child at the level he/she is upon entering school.

As it is now, we expect the student to be ready for school. What if the school were to be ready for the child – knowing at what level his/her skills were, and begin teaching there?

No failing, no repeating, just learning at the student’s comfort level, and no moving on until the child is ready. That, of course, would require drastic changes in the way we do things. But meeting each child at his/her level, teaching to the proper learning style, and not rushing things.

Many years ago I heard this conversation: Question: What is the best education system?
Answer: Mark Hopkins on one end of a log, the pupil on the other.

Yay! Now that D 2 City Councilor Candy Carlson landed the coveted …

By Rosalie Tirella

… and tres influential top spot on the city council’s Economic Development subcommittee, we’re expecting great “developments”! We’re expecting Candy to stay true to her moral code and advance the working guy and gal’s economic we’ll being!


Cuz Candy is in love with/married to union leader and worker-political heavyweight Joe Carlson! True to her life, Candy has advocated on the city council floor for a living wage of $15/hour for ALL City of Worcester workers! The newest newbie, bottom-of-the-totem pole City of Worcester garbage guy or office clerk or teacher’s aide or substitute teacher must be able to AFFORD to live and shop and flourish in Woo!

As Worcester District 2 City councilor, Candy represents the city’s vibrant, always bustling restaurant row – Shrewsbury Street – and a good chunk of our ever evolving downtown. We know Candy’s smart on the economic development front, but we now have a new subcommittee head who is a bull dog (the Carlsons love and have always owned bull dogs😊) on workers’ rights and will push push push for the WORKERS who are literally rebuilding, brick by brick, our downtown! She knows their struggles and will not disappoint them. Candy WILL WORK TO GET LOCAL LABORERS, CONTRACTORS AND COMPANIES on all our city redevelopment projects! For GOOD WAGES for workers! She’s for union shops. NO EXPLOITATION OF DAY LABORERS! CONTRACTORS must have apprenticeship programs so our city kids can learn on the job and join our middle class!

Remember the days when unions were such a big part of Worcester and company heads worked with them so folks here, many immigrants, could realize the American Dream?

Local factory prez – a lady! circa 1950. pics: Rose T.

It can happen again!

Rose’s Bapy’s family… wedding picture keepsake

We have a great and compassionate mayor, Joe Petty, and his trusted city manager, Ed Augustus, leading the way into the future! We are a huge fan of the smart but modest, inclusive, no-frills, GOOD-GUY Joe Petty. We are not close to the Augustus office, but we do know Ed works hand in hand with Joe, his life long friend. So we are hopeful …

Here’s to 2018! Cheers to a diverse, cool Worcester City Council that will reflect our unique …



… city, filled with so many good people!

Here are the rest of Mayor Petty’s city council member subcommittee assignments:

Economic Development: District 2 Councilor Candy Mero Carlson (chair), District 4 Councilor Sarai Rivera, District 5 Councilor Matt Wally

Education: At-Large Councilor Moe Bergman (chair), At-Large Councilor Khrystian King, At-Large Councilor Gary Rosen

Municipal Operations: District 1 Councilor Sean Rose (chair), At-Large Councilor Kate Toomey, District 3 Councilor George Russell

Public Health and Human Services: Rivera (chair), Rose, Toomey

Public Safety: Toomey (chair), Bergman, Rivera

Public Service and Transportation: At-Large Councilor Konnie Lukes (chair), Russell, Rosen

Public Works: Russell (chair), Wally, Carlson

Rules and Legislative Affairs: King (chair), Bergman, Toomey

Traffic and Parking: Wally (chair), Carlson, Lukes

Veterans and Military Affairs: Bergman (chair), Lukes, Rose

Go, Worcester, go!

Wonderful 💜💜💜 speech, Mayor Joe Petty!🎆🎺🎉

Sex Ed helps… pic: R.T.

Mayor Joseph Petty’s Inaugural
speech – Mechanics Hall, 1/2/18:

Good evening everyone.

Thank you to the Worcester Youth Orchestra.

RECOGNIZE ELECTEDS. Recognize City Manager Augustus and Superintendent Binienda.

THANK you to my family.

I first stood on this stage twenty years ago. I am proud to be here tonight and of all the accomplishments that we have made over that time. The names and faces of those behind me have changed, but every class of city councilors and school committee members gives of themselves, takes hard votes every year, and sacrifices for this city to be where we are today. It’s not easy to be an elected official and every person on this stage and at every inauguration before that, deserves the recognition of everyone here tonight.

Today we greet a new year and a new legislative session with the most diverse and promising city council in recent memory and a new school committee; and the state of our city has never been stronger.

As elected officials, we have done our part and worked shoulder to shoulder with City Manager Augustus and his team, the department heads, the business community, and hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals and that work to move this city forward.

You see it in a new hotel in Washington Square and a new ice rink in the Canal District.

You see it along Main Street, where new restaurants are opening and old buildings are being given new life.

The word about Worcester is spreading. It is spreading across the Commonwealth and across New England.

As we look forward to what is next for our city it’s important to recognize how far we have come.

Much has been accomplished in the last two years but the ground breakings and ribbon cuttings were all years in the making. In my first inaugural six years ago, I called for a new Nelson Place Elementary School and last year we opened it.

In my first inaugural six years ago I announced the formation of the Route 20 Task Force that called for sewers in the last unserved part of our city. Because of the work of our state legislature and city administration and the Governor’s office, construction on this twenty million dollar project is underway leading to increased property values and cleaner water.

In 2012 Congressman Jim McGovern brought the U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood to Worcester and first discussed the CAT THREE landing system at Worcester airport.

This May, because of this new thirty-two million dollar system, we will be able to take daily roundtrip flights from Worcester to New York City.

Almost twenty years ago, Ed Augustus started working on the Blackstone Visitors Center and Gateway Park and this June we will be cutting the ribbon on that project.

After fifteen years the South Worcester Industrial Park is now full, every parcel sold and being developed. The old courthouse on Main Street, closed for almost a decade, will soon see over fifty-million dollars in investment, creating housing and retail space.

In 2003 Mayor Tim Murray envisioned the demolition of the Worcester Galleria and a mixed use development in its place. This year, fifteen years later, we will see the opening three-hundred-sixty apartments and the AC Marriot Hotel at City Square.

The courthouse project, along with the City Square apartments, and the Central Building will bring over five-hundred units of NEW housing online in our downtown core.

We have done all this while being fiscally responsible.

Our bond rating, property values, and graduation rates are at historic highs today even as our crime rate is at a historic low.

The state of our city is strong because we have stayed the course over many years. We have been conservative in our budgeting and prudent in our judgment. We move forward because we move forward together.

Beyond the growth that we’ve seen, the most noticeable change to our city has been the culture change from one of pessimism to positivity. The progress we have made is evident and undeniable.

The growth we have seen across our city must be a shared renaissance. We must ensure that we are not just creating jobs but good jobs. Not just building housing, but good housing because at the core of our city’s strength is strong families and strong neighborhoods.

As a city we need to have a conversation about housing.

We know this because of our seniors who are looking to downsize. We know this because of the growing number of young professionals who want to live, work, and play in our city.

With average rents in the city approaching the cost of average homeownership, now is the time to stabilize our families and build our neighborhoods through home ownership.

This is not just about affordable housing but about appropriate workforce housing. This is about giving our citizens the tools to build equity, stabilize families, and get some skin in the game. By moving families to homeownership we can free up units in the rental market for those who need them most.

Tonight I am calling for a comprehensive plan to address the disinvestment and deterioration in our triple-decker neighborhoods. In every city across the Commonwealth, triple-deckers are the most problematic properties for public safety, fire safety, public health, and code violations.

Our downtown core is coming to life, but our triple-decker neighborhoods have not seen a corresponding increase in investment. While the resale market for these properties is strong, there is no comprehensive program in place to encourage owner-occupancy, beautification, nor requirements around energy efficiency.

The goal of this plan is to build safer, more walkable and livable neighborhoods. We should focus on the creation of work-force housing as well as improving existing housing stock through incentives, to stabilize families and our entire city.

This will require a whole-of-government approach and the weight of our community and private sector partners to create these tools. I am confident that we can bring our strengths to bear and imagine smarter, cleaner, and more vibrant neighborhoods.

From the high point of over two-hundred thousand in 1950, our city’s population declined until 1980, increasing until today. And it is likely that in the 2020 census, our city will once again break the two-hundred thousand mark for the first time in seventy years.

Make no mistake, we are growing as a city. The question we need to ask is where and how we are growing.

City Manager Augustus and his team will be starting work on our city’s first master plan since the 1970s. This plan needs to include an element of architectural and design review.

We must beautify our city not just through cleaner streets, better trash collection, and investment in our parks but through the way our city appears.

The most valuable asset that a city has is space. We must be proactive in how that space is utilized and consider the impact of future development has on our neighbors and neighborhoods.

We have seen in our parks how smart investment creates positive activity. Our parks are more utilized and beautiful than ever.

I want to see continued investment in Green Hill Park, a true jewel in our park system.

This park already sees thousands of visitors every year but greater amenities will only attract more people to a public space that we should all be proud to call our own. I would like to see improvements in pavilions and the petting zoo to serve the hundreds of families who visit it every year.

I want to see the recreation offerings in our parks expanded to not just our children but our families and young professionals. This will include everything from making it easier to utilize these public spaces to improving our parks with amenities like canoes and kayaks as well as programmed activities.

We will continue to invest in our community policing. Our crime rates are at historic lows as we continue to see the benefits of a police department that builds bridges, not walls with the community. Chief Sargent and his team has been a more visible presence in our city, working to raise money for numerous organizations like the Boys and Girls Club that give our city’s children ways to stay safe and active after school. This is what true community policing looks like.

Our Chief knows that an afterschool basketball league or dance class not only keeps our kids active and healthy but safe and out of trouble.

In my last inaugural I announced the Blue Space Initiative that called for a refocused attention on our rivers, ponds, and Lake Quinsigamond as recreational, environmental, and economic resources that have been long gone ignored.

We’re seeing how we can enhance our blue space at Stearns Tavern on Coes Pond and at the Blackstone Gateway Park and the Visitor’s Center.

We cannot stop here. The great untapped resource for our city is the shore of Lake Quinsigamond. It is known across the country as the finest natural body of water for rowing sports. Every year our lake attracts tens of thousands of rowers, sailors, water skiers and boaters. We currently have plans for the Linear Park that provides jogging and biking paths from Brownie Beach to Lincoln Street and I want to see it finally funded.

Tonight I am calling on our state legislature to fund a master plan for Regatta Point to fully realize the recreational and economic impact that this truly special state park can provide for our city.

Programs like, Recreation Worcester and the Blue Space Initiative, are examples of how we can reimagine our public spaces.

A year and a half ago I spoke at a press conference in Boston about cultural investment in our cities and said that:

I said, for the continued success of our cities and our great institutions, we must turn them inside out and show the true value and great economic impact that these assets have on a city and on a region.”

We need to move arts and performances into our public spaces: our parks, our alleys, and our streets. All of these spaces are public and should be opened to the arts community for performances. We must move art out of the traditional cultural institutions and meet the public where they truly are every day.

The definition of what we consider a cultural asset is changing. I believe our city has a culture of work and of industry and this can be seen in our commitment to building newer and better schools that can educate our students for the next economy.

We will be building a new South High Community School and a new Doherty Memorial High School in the coming years and I will continue to push for a new Burncoat High School and Worcester East Middle School.

As we work to improve our facilities so too we should be expanding what is done in the classroom itself.

I would like to see expanded access to Worcester Technical High School during the after school hours for students who want to learn the trades but are unable to attend because of the long wait list. We need to open this school to not only more students, but to adults who are looking to be certified in the trades like HVAC and automotive repair.

We must care for the whole of the child. If we care about their time in school, we must care about the parks where they play, the homes where they live, and the safety of their neighborhoods. We must equip them with the tools necessary to succeed beyond the school day and beyond graduation.

While across the country teen pregnancy is at an all-time low, citywide our teen birthrate is almost double the state average. For our Latina students the birthrate is over three times the state average. Tonight I tell you that for a school system to have onsite daycare yet requires no comprehensive sexual education across the high schools, does our students and our city a disservice.

We are rightly proud of our academics, having the highest graduation rate of any urban school district. Teen mothers however are less likely to graduate and attend college than their peers and I will not let these girls think that their education and their success is worth less than those of other students.

I will not allow our students to go into the world ill-equipped because we are too embarrassed to have a tough conversation. I will not allow a young woman to forego her future because we did not give her the tools to succeed.

This issue has persisted because of the discomfort of some and has gone unaddressed by half-measures and the politeness of the well intentioned. And it stops now.

In closing I am calling on my fellow elected officials to join me and focus on the long term solutions to the problems that affect our city. We need to craft a vision of what we want our schools and our city to be now, and for decades to come. This is the work that is ahead of us.

The problems that face our city are not new. The problems that we face today are shaped by the forces of geography, of history, of industry and technology, and the actions and inactions of city, state, and federal governments. In short, there is no quick fix to the problems that affect our city. It can take years of work to do even a small amount of good.

The work we do is slow; it is methodical and it as long as our city’s history. Today and every day forward, we must build the city we want to leave to our children and our grandchildren.

Our city is changing and growing and the work that is ahead is how we will improve the City of Worcester. As long as I am the Mayor, Worcester will remain a welcoming city that provides opportunity for everyone willing to work.

We will build schools that are cathedrals of learning and our children will see around them a city whose history of industry and innovation is their birthright.

We will work on these issues and many more in the coming years and we will make progress no matter how small or how slow. We will move forward, working together.

We will work to build a city that lives up to our highest ideals.

I first stood on this stage in 1998 and for the last twenty years you’ve always known where I stand.

I am proud of our city and I am still proud to be your mayor. Now let’s get to work.

Triumph!!🎊🎊 Gaffney’s gone! Lukes languishes! Here comes the MOST DIVERSE, PROGRESSIVE WORCESTER CITY COUNCIL EVER!🌃🎊🎊

Rose says: No more fuckin’ Gaffneys!! Yippee!!!

From the Mayor’s Office!💜

Mayor’s Office, room 305
City Hall
455 Main St., Worcester

Worcester to Host Inauguration Ceremony for City Council and School Committee

The City of Worcester will be holding its inauguration and swearing in ceremony for the seating of the City Council and School Committee …

… at Mechanics Hall (321 Main St., Worcester), January 2 at 5:30 PM.

Mayor Joseph M. Petty will be sworn in for his fourth term as the Mayor of the City of Worcester.

He will be delivering his fourth inaugural address detailing his agenda for the upcoming city council and school committee session.

The inauguration is free and open to the press and public.

There is a dinner reception following the inauguration ceremony on the second floor of Mechanics Hall; that is a ticketed event.

Tickets are $35 per person.

They are available at the City Clerk’s Office on the second floor of Worcester City Hall, 455 Main St., Worcester.

Boulevard Diner on Shrewsbury St: their holiday catering menu! Yummy homemade Italian🇮🇹 comfort food🍝! Veggie🍆 options and substitutions, too!

The Boulevard Diner
155 Shrewsbury St.
Historic, cozy, iconic Worcester!

To place your holiday orders, call 508.791.4535 or 508.769.9733

We cater holiday parties and gatherings, office shindigs, church events, family reunions, December anniversaries, birthday bashes – any special event!

Menu below:

First, the beautiful people:

pics: Rose T.





The Yum Yums💜! Order from here:




Popular music, rock ‘n’ roll … Where would it all be without us Italian Americans?! And the hands-down greatest:💜😉


Cambridge Street creche. pic: R.T.

Warm the cockles of your 💓 heart – VOLUNTEER at Horizons for Homeless Children beginning this Christmas season!



❄❄Volunteers are needed to play with young children living in family homeless shelters throughout Central Massachusetts.🌲🌲🌲

⛄⛄Horizons for Homeless Children is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless children by providing quality play and opportunities for early education.🎶

🎁🎁Volunteer with homeless children at a Horizons Playspace in one of more than 100 family shelters state-wide including in Leominster, Devens, Framingham and Worcester☺.

💜A commitment of 2 hours a week for 6 months and formal training are required.

Upcoming volunteer training:

👟February 4

10 am – 1 pm



🐩March 9

6 – 9 pm


🐱To find out more or to apply, call 508-755-2615 …

… or 🐦visit


A low-down, dirty shame!

Ducks and geese belong in the sky – not inside the lining of your coat or jacket! pics: R.T.






By Alisa Mullins

Those puffy down parkas lining store aisles this holiday season may look warm and cozy, but they hide a chilling secret: cruelty to ducks and geese.

Down is often obtained from birds who are “live-plucked.”

Workers grab them by the wings or neck, pin them to the ground and rip their feathers out by the fistful.

Some birds sustain bloody, gaping wounds, the worst of which are sewn up using a needle and thread —without any painkillers.

Many endure this abuse several times before finally being slaughtered.

Some down retailers, including luxury-outerwear maker Canada Goose, claim to use down only from birds who were slaughtered for their flesh, but not only is this difficult to prove, it is a hollow assurance, as a recent PETA exposé revealed.

Earlier this fall, PETA eyewitnesses recorded workers at Canada Goose supplier James Valley Colony Farms (JVC) in Manitoba rounding up geese for transport to slaughter, and the process hardly resembled the “tender, loving care” described by a JVC manager in a Canada Goose promotional video.

Workers herded the panicked birds into pens, where they piled up in the corners in their frantic attempts to escape.

Geese on the bottom of the piles were crushed, and at least one died. Workers grabbed the birds by the neck — often two in each hand — and hauled them to transport crates as they screamed and flapped their wings in distress. One worker repeatedly stepped on geese.

They were crammed into the crates with such force that the metal can be heard clanging in the video. Some geese were left in the crates — which were so small that the birds were unable to raise their heads — for up to 24 hours without food or water.

At the slaughterhouse, a PETA observer saw some birds flap their wings and move their heads after their throats had been cut, a sign that they may have been conscious. About half the birds from JVC had bruises on their wings — or even dislocated joints or broken bones — apparently as a result of being caged or roughly handled.

It may have been arguable that all this suffering was “necessary” in 1817, but in 2017, with so many high-tech insulators available, the case for down is all wet.

The North Face’s innovative down alternative Thermoball — which is constructed of lightweight clusters that mimic down and offer superior warmth — is so popular that it now outsells down.This year, the outdoor brand launched Ventrix, which is featured prominently in stores as “the next evolution of synthetic-insulation technology.”

Patagonia boasts that its faux down, PlumaFill, works better than feathers, with the best warmth-to-weight ratio the company has “ever achieved—down or synthetic.”

Cruelty-free outerwear maker Save The Duck uses only Plumtech™ — an alternative to down made with high-density recycled polyester fibers — which is lightweight, durable, packable and machine-washable and allows for easy movement.

After learning about the cruelty involved in down production, numerous companies have sworn off feathers completely, including The Coleman Company — the world’s leading outdoor-gear manufacturer — European outerwear brand Napapijri, Dr. Martens, Miss Selfridge, Topshop and many more.

And home-goods retailers, including Pottery Barn, West Elm, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel and The Land of Nod, are now offering alternatives to down for nearly every item.

Humane, high-performance down-free insulators make it easy to remember our feathered friends when shopping for holiday gifts and to extend peace to geese by giving down the thumbs-down.

Please! Don’t forget Puerto Rico!

By Boa Newgate

Worcester has taken in and helped lots of folks from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. But we can do so much more! pic: R.T.

Puerto Rico – The island that is known for its natural beautiful atmosphere, rich culture and warm climates fell into what seems to be a nightmare that one can not be awoken from. Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria came by surprise and left Puerto Rican natives without homes, vegetation and loved ones in a matter of hours.

This will be a devastation that will be carried through many years and never forgotten.

With a heavy heart, Juliana, a Puerto Rican native and I headed to Puerto Rico. We were both representing our community and the Southeast Asian Coalition. We wanted to expand the understanding of humanity. We carried hope through out the whole journey, believing that no assistance was too small.

Rather than leaving our Puerto Rican friends and families in the dark, we decided to bring necessities such as flashlights and candles to those with no power. Also with the help from the Southeast Asian Coalition community and friends, we were able to fundraise and send out a shipping container filled with survival necessities such as food, water, cloth, batteries and more. We were so graciously humbled from the support back home.

When we got to Puerto Rico we were in complete shock. As we traveled night and day from town to town passing out flashlights and candles, we saw people waiting in line for hours to maintain gas. We were stuck by what seemed to be endless traffic all day.

We saw people traveling miles just to get drinking water!

We ran into people who hadn’t had running water in their home since the storm hit, which resulted in them having to shower in sewer water.

Aside from the locals of Puerto Rico suffering the terrible loss of their homes, the land will leave you just as shocked as it left us.
From the palm trees being completely bent and destroyed, to the amount of broken roads we had to dodge, everything was completely heartbreaking.

Hurricane Maria made its first landfall and hit the hardest in Humacao, located southeast of Puerto Rico. This is also Juliana’s hometown. The destruction was indescribable. The things we saw were so unreal. It felt like an apocalypse as we heard chainsaws – people trying to rebuild their homes during the day – and loud generators at night providing power.

As we traveled throughout the town helping, we only saw water trucks as support but not much help cleaning and rebuilding of the streets and homes.

The Puerto Rican natives need as much help as possible. We were able to provide a few of them with flashlights and candles as well as help bring water to a few homes. It was amazing to see how appreciative they were for the small help. Our help was received with gratitude and appreciation. They were thankful to hear that we will be trying our best back home to continue the support.

We’d like to thank those folks who supported us in our travel to Puerto Rico, but there’s more work and help needed. It will take years for Puerto Rico to recover, and we’re afraid that Puerto Rico will not be covered by the news agencies anymore – that people will forget that they are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and US citizens.

Although the tragedy that remains in Juliana’s homeland broke the spirits of many, it did not shake the love out of our hearts, and that is why we are encouraging anyone and everyone to respectfully help. Whether it be with food, clothes, money or something as simple as spreading this message, we can help Puerto Rico.

Here are ways that you can contribute: If you can, please help Worcester grassroots inner-city programs that are trying their absolute best to provide a safe place for people and prepare food to give to people who lost their homes. You can volunteer, donate goods, or provide funds: go to and click on Amor para Puerto Rico.

And FYI:

Green Island’s mayor invites you to the Kelley Square Christmas Tree Lighting!

Will Chef Joey’s Gigi be drivin’ down to KS💜…

… after her visit with Santa?!🎄🎈❄. pics: J.C.

Happy 30th Anniversary Kelley Square Christmas Tree Lighting!

By Lorraine Michele Laurie

Lorraine Laurie has written about the history of Green Island and been its most passionate advocate for more than 30 years! The Kelley Square 🌲 event was/is her baby! pics: R.T.

Drive through Kelley Square from January to November and on the right side, near Harding Street, you’ll see a 30-foot Spruce tree near the flagpole at the Kelley Square Gulf Station. Come December 9, you’ll see this same tree transformed into a glistening rainbow of color.

This transformation marks the official welcoming of the Christmas Season to the neighborhood around Kelley Square. The kick-off is a celebration in itself. It is called the “Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.” This year, the event is scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m.

The idea to have a neighborhood celebration came from a longtime Island resident named Anne Bacinskas who was a Board member of the Green Island/Vernon Hill Community Development Corporation, newly formed in 1987. The first “ceremony” involved caroling and serving hot cocoa. In the next few years, the event really took off. Coordinated by the Green Island CDC and the Green Island merchants, the festivities took place at the Kelley Square Exxon with a donated gigantic real tree and ornaments made by area children.

The next few years followed in the same manner, with a glitch here and there, like the toppling of the huge tree!! The present tree took its roots in 1994 as part of a grant for trees on Green and Water Streets.

Every year the tree and ceremony grew and grew. Ornaments were made by area children, especially by the students at St. Mary’s Elementary School on nearby Richland Street. There even was a Kelley Square Ornament Contest with prizes donated by local businesses. Begun in 1997, this took place for more than 10 years.

Vernon Hill resident Patty, left, is Lorraine’s holiday helper – has been for years! Here the two friends show off some tree toppers!

The beautiful handmade ornaments included a Santa and Sleigh made of dog biscuits, an ornament made out of a coconut, a bottle wreath, a Nativity scene, stars and a “gingerbread” house.

With the demise of the Canal District CDC (formerly the Green Island/Vernon Hill CDC) in 2006, the Green Island Residents Group, Inc. voted that the ceremony should continue because it was a neighborhood favorite. The Green Island Residents Group, Inc. has been sponsor ever since.

Come join the neighborhood, local pols and biz folks as we usher in the Christmas Season! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!