Dave Richards for December 11th….…………
--You’d have to be about my age, I think, to appreciate just how amazingly beautiful Woonsocket was last Saturday evening. You’d have to remember how it was in this former mill city between the time the mills shut down, or left town, and now.
You see, I was very young in the days when the crowds clogged the sidewalks on Main Street. I vaguely remember pushing through with my parents to get inside McCarthy’s Department Store or waiting to get a counter seat for a bite to eat across the street. When I came ‘of age’, the whole place was in decline. But now!
Almost any Saturday night of the year when I drive down Social Street and through Monument Square I take a deep breath and sigh with great pride at the lights, the people, and the activity around our Stadium Theatre, Ciro’s Tavern, and Chans. But this particular Saturday, as I passed by in front of Chans I looked up to see the Polar Express locomotive and all its shiny silver cars parked on the tracks which pass above Main Street and I know good memories are being made there. People are coming to our city to have a good time. But it doesn’t stop there……….
In seconds I’ve driven up to the traffic light at Flynn/ Depot Square where I see a Woonsocket Police cruiser with lights flashing turning around to follow the horse-drawn wagon carrying visitors from one end of upper Main Street to the other during the Holiday Stroll. The cruiser is there for the safety of the people on the wagon, of course, and though it’s driving very slowly, I decide to follow them both as they meander down Main Street.
My first impression? The lights are on!. Not just on the street poles, but in all the shops!. Even the Museum of Broadcast History, and I hardly ever see that place lit up! At the Mullins Parking Lot there are the decorated Christmas Trees the school children decorate all lined up, the recreation of the famous McCarthy’s Talking Christmas Tree, and lots of people and activity. Even Timmy’s New York Lunch is packed with patrons a little farther down.
Across Young/Market Square I see the municipal parking lot is full, River Falls, Ye Old English, the new Christophers Kitchen and Bar, Millrace, and even the Museum of Work and Culture are all busselling. But the best is yet to come……….
Turning left onto Bernon Street I look to my right into River Island Art Park…..it is ablaze with countless multi-colored lights and Santa’s house! So beautiful, it truly is a Winter Wonderland…….
I’m sure you get my point. What I saw in my city last Saturday was the best representation of what hard work, imagination, and ignoring the negative comments of others can bring. Those who said years ago what Woonsocket needed was an atom bomb and a bulldozer, well, they were just plain wrong. What we’ve built is the good that can happen when forward-thinking leaders and many good citizens get together to do the impossible.
Indeed, we have. If I’d have told anyone 30, 40, or even 20 years ago that what happened here last Saturday could happen…….they’d have laughed me out of the room.
Friend, there is no limit to what we can do if we work together. Let us reject the hate and devicsiveness we see in our country. Let us improve what we can improve and let us resolve to work on what we can’t improve today in the days and years ahead.
That’s how we got to where we are today.
And by the way, if you believe in the power of prayer, and you are so inclined, in 10 days the Levitt Foundation will announce their decision of whether Woonsocket will again have Friday night free concerts in the park next summer. This is a pivotal year for our participation. We put in a good application, and we showed great community support with online voting. There is nothing left for us to do now but to hope. And pray. We have competition this year. “They” got our baseball team last year. Please, God, let us keep our concerts next year.
--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. Thanks for reading.