What’s Happening on Main Streets

January 11, 2013
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By Richard Rouse/Special to the Gazette

A Happy New Year to those of you who avoided falling over that fiscal cliff. In 2013, we atop the bluff of Mission Hill can still enjoy reading our Gazette. Holiday festivities were in abundance throughout this neighborhood where year-round fellowship and goodwill are always in season.

This year, Mission Hill Main Streets received incredibly favorable responses to the addition to two custom-made, 12-foot-tall “Nutcracker” figures urging folks to “SHOP MISSION HILL” in Brigham Circle. Last year, I saw some similar 8-foot figures in a flyer promoting a shopping district in North Carolina. Naturally, MHMS thought something “bigger and better” should grace our area for the holidays. We hope that this pair will be fruitful and multiply in the coming years. Can you imagine our thoroughfares adorned with dozens of these unique sentinels every Christmas season?  So, to everyone, if you are interested in sponsoring additional “Nutcracker” figures for the holidays in the years ahead, please contact us here at Main Streets. The designs can be as varied as your imagination allows (within the bounds of good taste, of course)! A note of appreciation goes to Wentworth’s Center for Community & Learning Partnerships and a huge thank-you to Tony Nader and his brothers at Star Realty for providing the construction and installation assistance.

Once again, Mission Hill business owners outdid themselves decorating their shops for the holidays and we should recognize some of them for their efforts. Flann’s, Fuentes Market, The Crossing bar, Spinney Insurance, Green T Coffeeshop, Mike’s Donuts, Flames, Mission Hill Liquors and the One Brigham Circle properties were bedecked in yuletide splendor. Certainly, the most adroit design I observed goes to Star Laundromat on Huntington Ave. with its blinking lights and Santas adorning the washing machines and dryers. Next to a detergent-dispensing machine sat an elaborate Middle Eastern village featuring figurine families with one lit up creche scene among the hillside caves. Each year, laundry manager Noritza Ramos and her ninth-grade daughter Norioscar let their creative juices flow, bringing artistic flair to the most unlikely of settings.

Window displays really became competitive this year with The Mission Bar featuring elaborate, snow-covered evergreen scenes across its glass panels, and pinkish sows and hogs amid mistletoe and poinsettia greeted Squealing Pig Pub patrons. Once again, however, Penguin Pizzeria stole the show with the Mission Hill skyline complete with a penguin Santa in a sleigh pulled by eight penguin reindeer above windows featuring penguin children singing in front of old tannenbaum and a tableful of penguins dining on—what else—pizza! Too cute! Thanks to every store owner who decorated, who are too numerous to list. The other business districts across Boston couldn’t come close to Mission Hill for originality.

Trivia: Did you know that our nation’s oldest civic association was established in South Boston in 1880? Boston’s neighborhood activism certainly predates that event by at least 200 years, and our group, the Community Alliance of Mission Hill (CAMH), has a rich history of looking out for the interests of our area. CAMH members generously donate their time to conduct monthly meetings on issues effecting Mission Hill by government agencies, institutions, real estate interests and individual citizens with professionalism and fairness. Alliance President Jessica Casey has been polling and urging everyone this January to ask 10 people why Mission Hill is important to them and bring your insights and comments to their Jan. 16 meeting. This feedback will assist CAMH in establishing priorities for the next five, 10, and 20 years, and you should let your voice be heard in shaping Mission Hill’s future. Looking back over my many years in government, 20 of them in elected offices, I can assure you that the opinions of neighborhood civic groups carry enormous weight in the decisions made by officials. Strong neighborhood associations make for strong neighborhoods.

The most recent issue of the BWH Bulletin, the in-house periodical of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, features a special insert as part of a series billed as “Get to know your neighbors” with stories about some of our local businesses with promotional discount coupons. This initiative was spearheaded by Board Member and BWH go-to guy John McGonagle as a way to help those businesses impacted by the hospital construction in Brigham Circle. Shop owners have longed to have more of the thousands of Longwood Medical Area employees and visitors shop locally in Mission Hill. This is a wonderful step forward. Thank you.

Finally, as we begin this New Year, several exciting development projects are scheduled to commence. These efforts should bring about an infectious desire by others to improve and upgrade their properties, and 2013 promises to be an exciting year for all of us.

Pepperoni-loving penguins cavort in a holiday painting on the windows of Penguin Pizza at 735 Huntington Ave. over the holidays. (Photo by Richard Rouse)

The writer is the executive director Mission Hill Main Streets.

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