What’s Happening on Main Streets

The New Year brings hope and optimism to Mission Hill. With the holidays concluded I’d like to give a thumbs-up to those who did more shopping “locally” and a pat on the back to all the businesses that helped to make the neighborhood look festive. The Boston Main Streets “#5onMain” effort at encouraging shoppers to purchase five items at Boston neighborhood businesses exceeded all expectations this year.

I’m delighted to report that I never had to set foot in a mall this year. Hurray! Once again, my wife appreciated the usual Chanel No. 5, but what really won the day for me this Christmas was having the zipper replaced on her favorite leather coat by Sofia on Huntington Avenue. Huh? Well, I’ve subsequently learned that my bride made four previous attempts at various places to get the coat repaired, but was told it couldn’t be done. Sofia told me no problem and made me a hero! There you go, proof positive that shopping locally works.

The City chose to discontinue its annual window design contest this year but it didn’t discourage our local shops from dressing up their establishments. Some of my favorites this year included Mike’s Donuts window paintings of a choir of singing donuts on one pane, and a Santa donut flying in a sleigh of reindeer donuts on the other.

The Mission had an ersatz Currier & Ives style winter scene and lighting in its windows and the Squealing Pig’s décor truly made you believe that you were celebrating the holidays in Ireland (with real peat logs burning in the fireplace). Penguin Pizza painted a Christmas tree with ornaments of various penguins draped from every bough, and Flann’s as always went over the top. Kush Groove’s designs were ultra-chic.

When it comes to the traditional, Mission Church erects their wooden manger with statues of the Nativity lit up on the rectory lawn. As I get older I can’t help but pause and smile each time I observe parents explaining the scene to their little ones at Tremont and St. Alphonsus streets.

Word from the Mission Bar has it that they’ve engaged a new executive chef and several menu changes will be unveiled over the coming months. Chef and Jamaica Plain resident Edwin Velasquez is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and enjoys a great reputation in culinary circles. The Mission is a mirthful spot to relax with a staff that is always pleasant and professional. I can’t wait to try their new dishes.

This year’s holidays took an unexpected turn with the untimely passing of Puddingstone Bar owner John Casey on Dec. 10. A beloved figure in Mission Hill, John’s death hit the neighborhood like a bolt of lightning. Anyone who met John instantly became his friend. The attendance at John’s funeral was tremendous. The outpouring of support for the memory of this always helpful and smiling 43 year old, and for his brilliant widow, former Community Alliance of Mission Hill President Jessica Casey, was the talk of the community.

The Puddingstone had only recently opened following the sale of the formerly named Crossing by John O’Sullivan, who purchased the much larger Iron Furnace Restaurant in Quincy. Casey and his partner Harry Walsh did a total rehab of the establishment and recently held a grand opening party for state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez. Christmas parties that were scheduled at the Puddingstone had to be cancelled, but the place is up and going, once again. Sundays there, from 4:30 p.m. on, has become the new hot place to be seen in Mission Hill.

If you haven’t been to Puddingstone, go there any night to experience the fulfillment of John Casey’s dreams of a friendly neighborhood gathering place. I’m sure you’ll be impressed and find that John’s outgoing spirit continues at his showpiece. Slainte!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a word about how nice it was to be present at the dedication of the new senior housing building on Gurney Street in recognition of my college classmate Maria Sanchez. You couldn’t squeeze another soul into the event and no one is more deserving of this honor. Mayor Martin Walsh and former Mayor Ray Flynn were both on hand and the tributes were heartfelt. However, the best accolades came from her justifiably proud son. State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez talked about his mother’s dignified example, commitment, and optimism.

Finally, as the New Year commences, I’d like to praise some individuals who do a superb job handling community relations in various capacities here in Mission Hill: Chris Dwyer at New England Baptist Hospital, Courtney Wright at Wentworth Institute of Technology, Laura Adams at Roxbury Tenants of Harvard, John Jackson at the Tobin Community Center, Dave Isberg and Michael Fitzgerald at Northeastern University, and John McGonagle at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. They love their work and love this neighborhood and it shows all year long. Happy 2016.

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