Ho-ho-holidays in Mission Hill are under way with the annual tree-lighting in Brigham Circle by Santa Claus and Mayor Menino on Dec. 3. Last year, Hizzoner was recuperating at Brigham & Women’s and waving from his hospital room to everyone in Brigham Circle, and Councilor Ross did a great job filling in as emcee. It’s nice to have Mayor Tom back in action this year, because he truly seems to enjoy his natural grandfatherly role at events like this.
The various merchants have adorned their storefronts in their holiday best. Once again, Flann O’Brien’s lights add sparkle to Tremont Street and Penguin Pizza’s windows showcase various penguins reenacting scenes from the “Nutcracker” ballet. Little penguins in mouse costumes firing cannons for the Mouse King, along with a penguin ballerina asleep holding her (penguin) nutcracker, are included in this year’s design. Lilly’s Pasta, Mike’s Donuts and The Crossing are in an all-out battle for bragging rights as best window design this year. We’ll all be watching.
It seems nearly every Mission Hill merchant features a Mission Hill Main Street (MHMS) wreath on their facade letting everyone know how much they appreciate the community’s support for local business in this friendly and welcoming neighborhood. Robert Rivard, owner of Domino’s Pizza, saw me unloading this year’s wreaths, and promptly wrote a $250 check to Main Streets to help with the effort. He said he wasn’t seeking recognition and just wanted to help the neighborhood and the good things happening with MHMS.
“I have 25 great employees at the Roxbury Crossing store, so consider this as $10 each in their honor,” he said. The holidays always seem to bring out the best in people. Thank you.
Our Savor the Flavors event on Nov. 16 at Mission Church sated the palates of hundreds of locals who turned out in terrible weather for an enjoyable evening of neighborhood fraternity and friendship. Boston Redevelopment Authority Director Peter Meade proclaimed the successes of Boston’s fiscal health compared to that of the other major cities in the U.S. with examples of development projects in the pipeline.
Attractive awards were presented to a number of exceptional individuals. Our 2011 Great Neighbor prizes were given to: longtime kindly crossing guard Carol DeSilva; former Gazette editor Sandra Storey; beloved neighborhood activist Ida Graves; all-around great guy Barry Twomey; Boston Elder Affairs worker Vilma Valentin; local market/bodega owner Miguel Fuentes; and the always helpful and pleasant area resident Francisco Claudio.
The second annual Kevin Fitzgerald “Friend of Mission Hill Award” was presented by Kevin’s amazing widow Tricia and sons John and Kevin to the treasured Theresa Parks as the person who embodies the outstanding charitable qualities of the late longtime legislator. The MHMS board of directors created a special laurel called the Compassionate Citizen Award to honor Mass. College of Pharmacy President Charlie Monahan for all his good deeds. That includes his actions following the early-morning, multiple-alarm fire at 37-39 Calumet Street on Oct. 30, where the president opened up his Huntington Avenue home to feed and house the nearly 50 displaced residents from the inferno. Charlie mobilized college students, trucks and vans to remove the belongings from the affected buildings for safe storage while arranging for emergency housing and other needed services. We were honored that he came to accept the award on behalf of a grateful community.
The first annual Golden Broom Award for the cleanest storefront went to Tony O’Brien, who immediately displayed the broom-adorned plaque in his Flann O’Brien’s Pub on Tremont Street. Those providing culinary delights at Savor were El Mondo, Montecristo, Lilly’s Gourmet Pasta, Mike’s Donuts, Wok n Talk, The Mission, Flann O’Briens, Flames, Chachos, Penguin and Mama’s Place. A special word of gratitude goes to Fr. Raymond Collins, the Redemptorist priests and the people of Mission Parish for their many kindnesses throughout the year.
The writer is the executive director of Mission Hill Main Streets.