Full Term

IMG_6540Today marks the final full day of Mayor Patrick Murphy’s term.  On Friday, Mayor Murphy and his aide signed the Mayoral guest book, which contains signatures dating back to 1905. Notables include the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello and Hollywood greats Alfred Hitchcock and Dorothy Lamour (see this post: https://room50.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/hollywood-greats-signed-mayors-guest-book/) as well as decades worth of the who’s who of Lowell and the region.

History Revisited

On the left, Dorothy Quigley hangs on the rungs of the aerial ladder.

On the left, Dorothy Quigley, older sister of Theresa Quigley,  hangs on the rungs of the aerial ladder.

By Jennifer Myers

Theresa Quigley was 16-years-old when she and her sister Dorothy were trapped inside the burning Omaha Packing Company meat packing plant on January 6, 1943; her clothing burned away from her chest and shoulders. Her hair was burned to the scalp in spots; her shoulders ribboned with blisters.

If this story sounds familiar to you, it may be because I blogged about it last May. Revisit that post here: https://room50.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/omaha-packing-company-fire-1943/

The catalyst to that post was a Christmas card sent to Lowell Fire Chief Edward “Skip” Pitta from Ms. Quigley, the first correspondence he had ever received from her. At the time I attempted to contact her, but having not received a response to my letter, wrote the story anyway in May.

Last week, I was pleasantly surprised when a Christmas card arrived in Room 50, addressed to me from Vidalia, Georgia. Inside the card was a handwritten letter from Theresa Quigley Mapes, now 87-years-old, which she begins by apologizing for her late reply.

IMG_6545So, what has she been up to the last 71 years?

In 1945 she married Edwin Walker from Newburyport; they were married for 42 years. She has five children, 24 grandchildren, 54 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren. Whew!

“I keep myself busy by doing a lot of sewing,” she wrote. “I also keep myself busy helping some homeless get back on their feet and taking them to Drs, shopping, or wherever they need to go.”

As if that wasn’t great enough . . . Theresa also knits legwarmers for people living in nursing homes and calls bingo twice a week.

“The people I helped I took in my home where they could take hot showers and have hot meals and a place to sleep until they get back on their feet,” she wrote. “And having them around was good company for me. It was good to hear them talk about how they became homeless.”

She explained she is no longer able to help the homeless the way she used to because last May she fell and broke her hip; the limited mobility led her to move from Florida to Georgia to live with her daughter.

“I am sorry I didn’t get to answer any sooner,” she added. “But next time I’ll be quicker. I got to go now so I can get this in the mail.”

Mount Trashmore Goes Green

The September 2012 groundbreaking for the solar farm at the old landfill on Westford Street.

The September 2012 groundbreaking for the solar farm at the old landfill on Westford Street.

The six-acre solar farm upon the hill that once served as the city’s landfill has begun producing electricity. An initial 333kW has been permitted to be put on line, City Manager Bernie Lynch’s office announced today.

All design, construction, operation and maintenance costs for the solar farm are covered by Framingham-based energy services company Ameresco.

In return, Ameresco will provide the city with discounted electricity from the panels over the next 20 years; then the city will retain ownership of the array.

At the September 2012 groundbreaking of the solar farm, City Manager Bernie Lynch said repurposing the site will save the city $1.5 million to $2 million over the next 20 years.

Once complete the landfill site will include 1.5 megawatts solar array producing clean electricity. When fully operational and combined with existing installations, solar will supply 6% of the City’s electricity usage, half of which will be provided by the landfill installation.  Total electricity used by the City last year was 43.4 million kWh.

Ameresco 002 “This innovative project exemplifies the progress we have made to make Lowell an energy efficient community and an example of what can be done to reduce energy costs, improve efficiencies and reduce carbon emissions,” City Manager Bernie Lynch said in a press release.  “It is a remarkable re-use of the City’s former landfill site and we look forward to finding new opportunities to utilize sustainable approaches to reduce our energy costs along with our carbon footprint.”

Ameresco has invested in solar panel projects throughout the city including the landfill, the Reilly, Shaughnessy and Pawtucketville Memorial elementary schools, the Butler Middle School and Lowell Memorial Auditorium, as well as the Water Utility headquarters on Pawtucket Boulevard and the Wastewater treatment plan on First Street.

In late 2008, after entertaining proposals from six firms Lynch entered into a 20-year performance contract with Ameresco, aimed at increasing energy efficiency and saving energy costs.

In April 2010, the City Council, in a 7-2 vote with Councilors Bud Caulfield and Rodney Elliott in opposition, approved the borrowing of $21 million to fund a wide range of energy efficiency projects impacting 28 schools and 19 city facilities by replacing roofs, installing new windows, energy-efficient heating systems and instituting conservation measures.

The $21 million loan is paid back by the $1.5 million in annual savings brought forth by the project, resulting in no cost to the city’s taxpayers and leaving the city with sustainable buildings, a much smaller carbon footprint and a 25 percent smaller energy bill.

The project is anticipated to save the city $43 million over the next two decades, as well as the equivalent of 6,158 tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equivalent to taking 1,023 cars off the road for one year.

Ameresco 004At the groundbreaking, Mayor Patrick Murphy, who has championed green projects and initiatives since joining the City Council in January 2010, said the project will leave a “lasting impact,” and credited the Lynch administration with working the Ameresco to “get the best deal possible for the city.”

Looking up at the mountain that is the capped landfill, Murphy stated Lowell will continue to “be a leader in sustainability,” and harkened back to the words of John Winthrop, the state’s first governor who said “we should be a city upon a hill.”

“Lowell is a can-do city with a vision; that is what distinguishes Lowell from many other communities we work with,” Jim Walker, Ameresco’s director of solar grid-tie projects said at the groundbreaking, singling out then-CFO Tom Moses and Procurement Officer Michael Vaughn for their cooperation in making the project a reality. “They are people who are dedicated to the community, who have a vision for the community.”

The city has received several awards for the Ameresco project to date including:

The 2012 New England Region Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Project of the Year from the U.S. Department of Energy.

A $129,000 Green Communities grant, a competitive grant for energy projects in schools.

The 2011 Municipal Leading by Example Award.

Room 50 Year in Pictures

By Jennifer Myers

2013 was a fun and busy year in Room 50. Here is a look back:


BusShelter 014LRTA and City officials joined Mayor Patrick Murphy in opening the first of several new bus shelters. This one is at Lincoln Park on Chelmsford Street. Bus shelters were one of the initiatives brought forward by Murphy in his first term as a City Councilor, as part of his vision to increase accessibility, convenience and ease of public transportation.

Murphy invoked the Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, who last year said:  “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It is one where the rich use public transportation.”

The shelters were purchased by the LRTA using funding from a Federal Transportation Administration Grant from the U.S. Dept of Transportation. The city is responsible for installing and maintaining the shelters, eight of which are equipped with advertising cabinets — the revenue from which will offset the maintenance costs.

BusShelter 021FEBRUARY 2013

Coakley 022Mayor Murphy joined in a roundtable discussion with Attorney General Martha Coakley, City Manager Bernie Lynch, Assistant City Manager/Director of Planning and Development Adam Baacke, and other stakeholders regarding the impact of the foreclosure crisis on the city and region.

Mayor Patrick Murphy

He was also on-hand at the grand opening of UMass Lowell ‘s NERVE (New England Robotic Validation and Experimentation) Center on Pawtucket Boulevard, under the direction of Professor Holly Yanco.

“As the University goes, so goes the city,” said Mayor Patrick Murphy, lauding the partnership between the city and university, a key to the region’s economic vitality.

And . . . at the grand opening of Lowell Community Health Center’s impressive $42 million 100,000 sq. foot headquarters in the Hamilton Manufacturing Co. mills at 161 Jackson Street. The LCHC serves 50,000 patients annually — half of the city’s population.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 3.35.48 PMAnd, of course, Mayor Murphy easily led the School Committee’s human dogsled team to a crushing defeat of the City Council’s team at Winterfest.

Winterfest 133MARCH 2013

ReadAcrossAmerica 029Mayor Murphy participated in Read Across America at the Lincoln Elementary School along with several members of the Lowell Police Department including then-Superintendent Ken Lavallee and Deputy Superintendent Arthur Ryan Jr.

LPD Deputy Superintendent Arthur Ryan, Mayor Patrick Murphy and LPD Superintendent Ken Lavallee.

He also . . . got all dressed up and uh . . . told some jokes . . . at the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 3.46.12 PMAPRIL 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 3.57.03 PMMayor Murphy joined City Councilor Vesna Nuon and students from the Lowell Community Charter Public School in celebrating Khmer New Year.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.00.50 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.01.35 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.01.59 PMLater in the month, Mayor Murphy joined the Merrimack Valley chapter of Parents of Murdered Children in commemorating National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Arnie and Alice Muscovitz

Muphy read from Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s “The Cure at Troy,” an adaptation of Sophocles’ play Philoctetes, which reads in part:


History says, Don’t hope
on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
on the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
and cures and healing wells.

“As Mayor, I hope and pray for peace in our hearts and on the streets,” Murphy concluded.

MAY 2013

IMG_3053Mayor Murphy participated in Lowell Cemetery’s annual Memorial Day Observance.

IMG_3094IMG_2988IMG_3001JUNE 2013

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.30.56 PMMayor Murphy joined the Merrimack Valley Food Bank and then-USDA Northeast Region Regional Administrator James Arena-DeRosa (now running for Lt. Governor), at the Healthy Summer press conference at City Hall.

And celebrated St. Jean Baptiste Day and Franco-American Week with the city’s Franco-American community.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.38.19 PMScreen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.39.35 PMScreen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.40.27 PMJULY 2013

khmer 105July was a month of multicultural celebration in the Mill City, starting with a ribbon cutting welcoming KhmerPostUSA, a bi-weekly Khmer/English newspaper to their new headquarters on Merrimack Street. The party continued with a Dominican flag raising at City Hall.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.54.47 PMScreen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.54.06 PMThe event was organized by Pastor Rafael Najem of the Community Christian Fellowship, who has created a relationship with officials in several Dominican cities to bolster his parish’s efforts to aid the poor of that island nation. More than 100 people, including a delegation of 30 visiting from the Dominican Republic, as well as contingents from Spain and Holland attended.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.54.24 PMScreen Shot 2013-12-29 at 4.53.28 PMAnd . . . of course, July in Lowell means — Folk Festival!!

FolkFestival 129FolkFestival 280FarmerDaveandFolkFestSaturday 061FarmerDaveandFolkFestSaturday 081FarmerDaveandFolkFestSaturday 208FarmerDaveandFolkFestSaturday 178FarmerDaveandFolkFestSaturday 242FarmerDaveandFolkFestSaturday 319AUGUST 2013

August was BUSY . . . starting with a Puerto Rican flag raising.

Fridays 090Next on the agenda — a visit from U.S. Sen. Ed Markey. Mayor Murphy filled him in on his plan to build a walkway along Hale’s Brook which will connect to the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 5.50.29 PMScreen Shot 2013-12-29 at 5.50.57 PMScreen Shot 2013-12-29 at 5.51.18 PMAnd then there was the Lao flag raising at City Hall.

Laos 013Laos 004Laos 078In the middle of the month, Mayor Murphy and City Manager Bernie Lynch welcomed the young men and women of the Career Center’s Van Crew to City Hall to thank them for the hard clean-up and landscaping work they did during the summer, in heat and in rain, in the city’s parks and green spaces.

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 6.01.53 PMThen, Canadian Consul General Patrick Binns visited City Hall to meet with Mayor Murphy and a contingent of Lowellians with Canadian roots.

Consul General 006Consul General 042Consul General 026August concluded with a press conference at the Gallagher Terminal announcing the LRTA would be expanding the hours of its nighty bus service, an expansion Mayor Murphy had championed for several years.

LRTAMurphy said he picked up where his grandfather, City Councilor George Murphy, left off 50 years ago.

George Murphy was a bus driver for the Eastern Bus Company, who used his platform as a city councilor, to advocate for expanded bus service.

“I’m happy to follow in that line,” said Mayor Murphy, adding that the LRTA has been a great partner with the city and very responsive to the needs of its residents, unlike Eastern Bus, who never complied with the elder Murphy’s requests.“The LRTA recognizes the importance of public transportation not only to our city, but the importance of public transportation to sustainable development for years to come.”


Immaculate 053In mid-September Mayor Murphy enjoyed a visit by a second grade class from the Immaculate Conception School. He gave them the real scoop about the City Council . . . and tried to recruit a few of them to run for office.

Immaculate 029And he was in attendance as UMass Lowell cut the ribbon on University Suites, a $54 million residence hall across the street from LeLacheur Park.

Suites 041The boldly-colored 148,000 square-foot  complex is home to 472 students, including members of the Commonwealth Honors Program. It includes 88 for-and-six bed suites with kitchenettes and living rooms.

Suites 014Mayor Murphy joined city and state officials in welcoming Cortron back to Lowell.

Cortron, founded in 1969, designs and manufactures rugged keyboards used by the U.S. Armed Forces as well as NASA. Their work can be found in submarines, fighter jets and in outer space. The company had been located in Lowell, on Walker Street, until moving to Methuen in the late 1980′s.

Cortron 204Later that same day, Mayor Murphy visited the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell to join in the celebration of the Worldwide Day of Play.

friday 076And that night was off to UTEC, for the Pollard Memorial Library’s “Lowell Reads What Lowell Writes Event,” where several Lowell authors including Paul Marion, Ryan Gallagher, Ricky Orng, Dave Robinson and Rachel Norton read from their work. Murphy read from the works of one of his favorite poets, Seamus Heaney.

friday 122 OCTOBER 2013

In October it was time to christen the new housing units at Perkins Park.

Perkins 048The Residences @ Perkins Park, 47 market-rate one and two bedroom luxury apartments, sit on the site destroyed by the 1987 Lawrence Mills inferno.

The project, developed by Mira Development and Charter Environmental, joins their initial development the 183-unit Lofts at Perkins  Park in the former Hub Hoisery and McQuade buildings (opened in 2009), as well as a 370-space parking garage, in bringing life back to that section of the neighborhood.

Perkins 084And there was the groundbreaking for the new splash pad that will be added to O’Donnell Park on Gorham Street, the site of the city pool that has been closed for several years, in the spring.

The project, spearheaded by City Councilor Marty Lorrey, also includes a renovation of the park’s tennis courts.

O'Donnell 342NOVEMBER 2013

Mayor Patrick Murphy presents a citation from the city to Lowell Makes proprietors Eric Sack, John Noto and Kamal Jain.

November saw the opening of Lowell Makes, a membership-driven collaborative space. A place where people can access and utilize tools and equipment too cost prohibitive to keep in their garage like laser cutters and 3D printers; a place to learn or practice trades like wood and metal working, or to get involved with electronics or software.

Lowell Makes 074November also brought a very special visitor to Lowell. Former Irish President Dr. Mary McAleese visited and spoke at St. Patrick’s Church and later enjoyed a reception at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center.

IMG_4575IMG_4582Mayor Patrick Murphy proclaimed Friday November 8 “Building Bridges Day” in the City of Lowell in honor of Dr. McAleese and presented her with the Key to the City.

IMG_4559And Murphy joined the Howe family in dedicating the new University Avenue bridge in honor of Richard P. Howe Sr., a 4-time Mayor who served on the Lowell City Council with distinction for 40 years.

HoweBridge 049HoweBridge 066HoweBridge 147The City Council Chamber hosted two very special occasions in November. The first happened on the 20th when Mayor Murphy presented Alfred Buckley with his Lowell High School diploma. Buckley, 67 of Pepperell, dropped out of school in 1963 to join the U.S. Army.

Buckley 005Under Massachusetts state law, school committees have the authority to issue high school diplomas to honorably discharged veterans who fought in World War II, the Korean or Vietnam Wars, who joined the Armed Forces prior to completing their high school graduation requirements.

Taylor 072Five days later, William Taylor, a 31-year veteran of the Lowell Police Department was sworn-in as Superintendent.

Taylor 124Later that week, Mayor Murphy was in the Acre, welcoming the Medeiros and Pol families to their new homes, which they helped build along with Habitat for Humanity on a Rock Street site donated by the city.

Mayor Patrick Murphy congratulates the Medeiros and Pol families as they move into their new homes.

And in the downtown he welcomed Pawsitive Thoughts, a dog bakery and boutique to Central Street.

habitat 111The month ended with one of the city’s signature events . . . the City of Lights parade.


Mayor Patrick Murphy led the countdown to flip on the lights at City Hall

Mayor Patrick Murphy led the countdown to flip on the lights at City Hall


The City of Lights wasn’t enough. We continued the party into December with the best Mayor’s Holiday Reception ever. More than 300 people who live and/or work in the city stopped by during the two-hour fete.

IMG_5564The food was the big draw — 12 types of eggrolls from the Eggroll Cafe, pad Thai from Viet Thai, an amazing cake from Cafe Pastiche and coffee and cider from Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus.

The room was packed.

The room was packed.


Bob Page also likes desert.

Mayor Murphy was at the Lowell Community Charter Public School on Friday December 13 to celebrate the life of former South African President and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela along with the African Cultural Association of Greater Lowell.

IMG_6045IMG_5953IMG_6079IMG_5924As the year came to an end, the promise of a delicious 2014 came into view, with the grand opening of El Potro, a new Mexican restaurant on Merrimack Street.

El Potro 013

Fluatas de Pollo (chicken fluatas), chicken quesadilla and nachos.

Fluatas de Pollo (chicken fluatas), chicken quesadilla and nachos.

El Potro 066*************************************************************************************************************************************************

As the year and the term come to an end, I’d like to thank all who have read this blog over the last year and 5 months. In that time, 255 posts were written, attracting more than 64,000 hits from 96 nations around the world.


The Old Mill Town

IMG_6319Bored sitting through class after class of material he did not think he would ever use, led to some . . . uh . . . “outspoken” behavior that left Dave Ouellette off the invitation list to return to Lowell High School his senior year.

Instead, he was placed in a program with, as he recalls, “the 40 worst kids.” Essentially it was a type of alternative high school program for the troubled kids who were not progressing in a traditional educational model.

It was in this program that Ouellette, the 17-year-old kid from the Acre, developed an idea for a board game based on the historical attributes of his hometown . . . The Old Mill Town on the Merrimack River. It was an idea supported by Superintendent of Schools (and Father of the Lowell National Historical Park) Pat Mogan, who mentored Ouellette and assisted in the development of the game that takes players from the County Jail on Thorndike Street to the Ladd and Whitney monument, Lowell City Hall, the Old Post Office and beyond . . . purchasing souvenirs along the way.

IMG_6325Take a ride on the Whistler Train or on the James B. Francis canal boat. Learn when the Middlesex Canal began operating (1803) and when the cornerstone of Lowell City Hall was laid (1890).

“I wanted it to be a fun game where you could learn little facts about the city as you go,” said Ouellette.

IMG_6327Young Dave, today the Senior Code Enforcement Inspector for the City of Lowell and President of ACTION (Acre Coalition to Improve Our Neighborhood) , did manage to graduate from Lowell High School in 1979. Upon his graduation, he was presented with a check for $500 from LHS teacher David Delisle, who had become his mentor and friend. The money was for start -up costs to have the game printed.

delisle“He really believed in the Old Mill Town Game and that I could do it,” recalled Ouellette.

Twenty-Five hundred games were printed by Nancy Sales Company of Watertown. Dave signed and sold hundreds of them through the Lowell Museum. Ouellette Enterprises also designed and sold Lowell ashtrays, bells, coffee mugs and jigsaw puzzles.

When the feds moved in and took over the Lowell Museum for the Lowell National Historical Park, “they killed the business of a young entrepreneur” Ouellette said.

They would not sell the “knick-knacks” and were slow in ordering and paying for the games, no longer making it profitable to produce them, despite continued demand.

The dozen games that remained were stored in Dave’s basement; the edition he gifted to me this week is the first to be opened in more than 20 years.

Given the renewed interest in Lowell history, Dave is considering starting a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to create an updated version of the game. Anyone interested?

El Potro Spices Up Downtown Lowell

Fluatas de Pollo (chicken fluatas), chicken quesadilla and nachos.

Fluatas de Pollo (chicken fluatas), chicken quesadilla and nachos.

It started in Union Square, Somerville in 2006 . . . the El Potro revolution. Fresh, scratch-made Mexican favorites served in a festive, cozy atmosphere.

Thursday afternoon, city officials gathered at 124 Merrimack Street to welcome El Potro papi Elias Interiano to his restaurant’s newest location, right here in Downtown Lowell in the space formerly occupied by Mr. Jalapeno.

For more information about El Potro, including the menu, visit http://elpotromexicangrill.com/

Assistant City Manager Adam Baacke and Mayor Patrick Murphy join El Potro's staff, including owner Elias Interiano and Business Manager Joe Carreiro in officially cutting the ribbon.

Assistant City Manager Adam Baacke and Mayor Patrick Murphy join El Potro’s staff, including owner Elias Interiano and Business Manager Joe Carreiro in officially cutting the ribbon.

El Potro 011El Potro 013

Creative use of the ribbon. The staff at El Potro likes to have fun.

Creative use of the ribbon. The staff at El Potro likes to have fun.

After a margarita or two, you are sure to get up and dance to the tunes of the house Mariachi band.

After a margarita or two, you are sure to get up and dance to the tunes of the house Mariachi band.

El Potro 034

All of the chairs and tables are hand-carved in Mexico.

All of the chairs and tables are hand-carved in Mexico.

El Potro 006El Potro 066El Potro 065

Enchiladas de Espinaca (spinach enchiladas). Absolutely delicious.

Enchiladas de Espinaca (spinach enchiladas). Absolutely delicious.

El Potro 055El Potro 004El Potro 071El Potro 072


Viva Mandela!


He was known as the Father of Africa, but the influence of Nelson Mandela reached much further than the shores of the Africa, an influence and legacy that was on display Friday night at the Lowell Community Charter Public School where the African Cultural Association of Greater Lowell and members of the community celebrated the life of the freedom fighter and icon known affectionately as Madiba.


“We have all lost a strong voice for peace and justice in the world,” said Mayor Patrick Murphy. “In his life, Nelson Mandela struggled for no less than the freedom of his people, at great cost to himself and his family. Jailed away for three decades, he later prevailed in the end to Apartheid, and began as president to heal a nation divided by its history of tyranny and oppression.

“It is perhaps tempting for some to bury that struggle with its fallen leader, to extricate it from part of a wider, deeper, living pursuit of justice throughout the world,” Murphy continued. “It’s always worthwhile, then, at times like these, to not only celebrate how far we have come because of the efforts of people like Mandela, but also to remind ourselves of the work undone.”

In addition to Murphy, other elected officials who attended the celebration included State Sen. Eileen Donoghue, Middlesex North Register of Deeds Richard Howe Jr. and City Councilor Rita Mercier.


Although there was sadness in the room as the community mourned the December 5 passing of the former South African President at the age of 95, the prevailing feeling throughout the auditorium was one of hope, appreciation and celebration embodied in the performances of the LCCPS Percussion Ensemble, singers Daniela Deny and Samone Cobb, the Osibi Drumming and Singing Group of Lowell and the Singo Dance Group from Vermont.


Samone Cobb


Levenia Furusa


African Cultural Association President Levenia Furusa reminded those assembled of one of Mandela’s most famous quotes “lead from behind and let others believe they are in front.”

“Viva Mandela!” she yelled to a chorus of “Viva!” from the crowd.

“Viva Mandela!”


Donoghue spoke of Mandela’s remarkable influence, illustrated by the number of world leaders who flocked to South African this week to memorialize him, as well as the tens of thousands who stood in the pouring rain to pay their respects.

“He lived his entire 95 years with dignity,” she said, adding Mandela’s lived life with grace and foregiveness despite the injustices done to him and his people. Despite the adversity he faced, Mandela continued fighting for “equality, dignity and justice for all.”

On December 31, 1999 at the turn of the Millennium, Mandela visited the prison cell at Robins Island he had called home for so many years and lit a candle, Gordon Halm told the crowd.

Gordon Halm

Gordon Halm

“The light of the candle symbolizes freedom,” Halm said. Tonight let the light shine upon him. That light in the cell — may that light continue to shine upon our lives.”

Party Time!

IMG_5564There were eggrolls (tons of them) . . . Pad Thai, fried rice, beef sticks, cookies, a pineapple coconut cake, lattes, hot chocolate, hot cider, music and magic.

Pineapple coconut cake from Cafe Pastiche in Kearney Square.

Pineapple coconut cake from Cafe Pastiche in Kearney Square.

Best of all there were hundreds of people who live and/or work in Lowell gathered together talking and laughing; Facebook friends meeting for the first time and old friends reconnecting. The Mayor’s Holiday Reception was a great success thanks to all who attended, the businesses from which we obtained food and the entertainers who volunteered their time and talent. And a VERY special thank you to Comcast for their generous donation that made the party a reality.

John McGovern's musicians from Lowell High School

John McGovern’s musicians from the Lowell High School Fine Arts Department

First — the food. Michael Kit and his staff from the Eggroll Cafe (www.eggrollcafe.com) on University Ave. were terrific and incredibly accommodating to any requests we had. They went above and beyond. We ordered 12 varieties of eggrolls from steak and cheese and crab rangoon to peking and spinach and feta. Something for everyone. Viet Thai (www.vietthailowell.com/) came through at the last minute with a tremendous amount of delicious Pad Thai and fried rice and City Councilor Vesna Nuon, never one to show up to a party empty-handed, brought delicious beef skewers.

IMG_5575The star of the desert table was by far the pineapple coconut cake from Cafe Pastiche (11 Kearney Sq. at the corner of Prescott and East Merrimack Streets). The owners of the cafe, Frank and Val De Assis came through on short notice to fulfill Mayor Murphy’s dream of having a pineapple coconut cake — and they even threw in a big box of cheese bread balls, which are highly addictive.

Lily Page likes desert.

Lily Page likes desert.

Bob Page also likes desert.

Bob Page also likes desert.

And of course, everyone’s favorite barista, Andy Jacobson from Brew’s Awakening Coffeehaus (www.brewdawakening.com/) was on-hand with a latte, hot chocolate and cider bar that added a special festive touch to the evening.

IMG_5649Shop local. Eat local. Lowell not only has every type of cuisine you could ever crave, but the business owners are incredibly nice, accommodating and fun to work and interact with.

More photos from the party:

James Ostis, Greg Page and Sovanna Pouv

James Ostis, Greg Page and Sovanna Pouv

Sovanna Pouv and Jen Myers

Sovanna Pouv and Jen Myers

Mayor Murphy digging into the food

Mayor Murphy digging into the food

Robert Gignac, Bobby Tugbiyele and Shaun McCarthy.  +

Robert Gignac, Bobby Tugbiyele and Shaun McCarthy. 


Vesna Nuon and former CFO Tom Moses

Vesna Nuon and former CFO Tom Moses

City Manager Bernie Lynch catching cookie thief Rob Mills in the act.

City Manager Bernie Lynch catching cookie thief Rob Mills in the act.

Henri the Magnificent astonishes a young fan

Henri the Magnificent astonishes a young fan


Dan MacNeil investigates the eggroll situation.


The room was packed.

The room was packed.


John Corrigan and Bernie Lynch

John Corrigan and Bernie Lynch


Remembering Mandela

ss-120601-mandela-tease.photoblog600From the African Cultural Association:



 The African Cultural Association of Greater Lowell, Inc. in conjunction with the Lowell Community Charter Public School, will celebrate the life and legacy of a true son of Africa and gift to the world, Nelson Rolihlahla ‘Madiba’ Mandela; apartheid revolutionary, politician, former president and father of democratic South African, philanthropist and Nobel Prize winner on Friday December 13.

“Each time I read or hear the speech he delivered at his trial; ‘During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people; I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideals of a democratic and free society, …it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die’, I marvel at the will of the man”. Said Kathy Egmont, Principal of Lowell Community Charter Public School.

The event is expected to incorporate speeches from local and foreign dignitaries and ordinary citizens whose lives Mandela touched. There will be speeches and video presentations of the life and times of a man who, despite seeing himself as an ordinary man, yet, his people saw as the architect of their freedom and the rest of the world, as an embodiment of peace.

Ben Opara, one of the organizers of the event, as a young college student in his native Nigeria, remembers Nelson Mandela with his fellow freedom fighters, Oliver Tambo and Steve Biko, as the symbols of resistance to oppression and injustice. In his speech at the grand memorial service in Soweto, Tuesday, President Obama reminded the world that it takes the likes of Mandela to free not just himself, the prisoner, but his jailers and prison guards through his unconditional forgiveness. 

This is an open event and all are invited to attend to celebrate the life of an icon and participate in saying a final farewell. It will take place at the Lowell Community Charter Public School, 206 Jackson Street, Lowell, MA 01852, 5 – 7 p.m. on Friday December 13. For more information, please call 1 800 706 7863.

Cafe Pastiche Will Make Your Tastebuds Samba

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It smells like home.

Even if you didn’t grow up in a Brazilian family, this cozy café smells like home. It is warm. The service is gracious. The food is comforting and filling.

Ok – it is way better than home.

Pastiche 017Frank De Assis moved to the U.S. more than 20 years ago and has been working in the restaurant business. Earlier this year he and his wife Val purchased the former Delicias Bakery at 11 Kearney Square downtown and have filled the cases and buffet tables with their scratch-made family recipes.

Pastiche 015Soups, salads and sandwiches, fried sweet corn and cream cheese filled croquettes from heaven, coconut and condensed milk treats, custom-made birthday cakes, sweet breads, Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao De Queijo) , tropical fruit smoothies, cappuccino, and a rich hot chocolate that tastes like love.   

Pastiche 048The café offers a lunch and dinner buffet and offers a 10 percent student discount, free wi-fi and comfortable seating.

Stop by and also “like” their Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Pastiche/549382365108502

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Theresa Park reads a citation from Mayor Murphy and the City Council to the owners and staff of Cafe Pastiche.

Theresa Park reads a citation from Mayor Murphy and the City Council to the owners and staff of Cafe Pastiche.


 Be it hereby known to all that

the City of Lowell in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

hereby welcomes


and its owner


 to its location at 11 Kearney Sq .

 The City is honored that Frank, one of a growing number of immigrant entrepreneurs, has chosen Lowell as the city in which to fulfill his American dream of opening his own restaurant.  

 We wish him many years of delighting the taste buds and filling the stomachs of the

city’s residents and visitors.

 The entire City of Lowell extends its deepest wishes to Frank

and the employees of Café Pastiche for continued success.

 Given this 5th day of December, 2013

Patrick Ó. Murphy



Joseph Mendonca

Vice Chair

 Rodney M. Elliott

Edward J. Kennedy, Jr.

John J. Leahy

Martin E. Lorrey

William F. Martin, Jr.

Rita M. Mercier

Vesna E. Nuon

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