Waterbury Mayor O'Leary Undecided About Seeking Re-Election In November

                                           By John Murray

   Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary is a decisive man. He is either all in on a project, or all out. O'Leary is not prone to dipping his toe into the water to gauge the temperature. He's a cannonball kind of guy  who enjoys making a big splash, which makes his statement today that he is "undecided" about running for re-election in November newsworthy.

   "I'm not trying to be cute or play some kind of game," O'Leary told the Observer in an interview this morning inside City Hall, "I just don't know right now."

Albanian Community Keeping Traditions Alive

                                                   By John Murray

   Many young Albanian children living in Waterbury are caught between two worlds; the rich traditions and culture of their Albanian parents, and the fast paced, multi-cultural landscape of America. Clinging to traditions while pressing forward in a new homeland is the challenge of all new immigrants to the United States, and the local Albanian community put on a show this weekend at the 8th Annual Albanian Festival in Waterbury. For three days young and old alike came together to celebrate the music, food and dance of their homeland to keep their traditions alive. 

Rod Dixon And The Kid

                                              By John Murray

   There was a lot of excitement at the begining of the Kid's Marathon at Crosby High School tonight. Nearly 500 Waterbury children were jacked up to run the final installment of a marathon they had been running for the past two months. After completing a final 1.2 mile cross-country course the students would have finished the equivalent of a marathon (26.2 miles), and would receive a medal from Olympic medalist Rod Dixon of New Zealand.

   The runners launched in four waves to avoid collisions, but kids being kids, they sprinted furiously from the starting line. Pony-tails and elbows were flying, and barely 20 yards into the run someone tangled legs with seven-year-old Cameron Raver, and he crashed to the ground with a thud. Cameron is pictured above rolling to avoid the stampede of runners that followed him.

Photo Exhibit On Brass At Silas Bronson Library

   When Emery Roth began photographing along the old railroad tracks of the Naugatuck Valley, he never expected they would lead him through a time warp to a mill where he would find giant hydraulics still hissing, steel clanking, hot glowing metal still flying through the air - where the steam still rises from old pickling vats, and men still charge the foundry furnaces in buildings where the soot has caked for more than a hundred years. Some of the photographs from Emery Roth's book Brass Valley: Made in America, which were taken in Waterbury and Ansonia, will be on exhibition in the art gallery of the Silas Bronson Library during June and July.

     On Wednesday, June 19, at 6:30 p.m. Roth will give a power point presentation in the library auditorium of additional images from his book, accompanied by poetry and prose selections from it. He will also discuss his discoveries along the tracks and in old industrial sites throughout the valley. Attendees may order a special limited edition of the exhibition book.

So, We Meet Again....

                                              By John Murray

   Two former heavyweights in the Waterbury political arena got a chance to catch up Saturday afternoon at the Taste of Lebanon in the East Mountain neighborhood of the city. Mike Jarjura, on the right, was mayor of Waterbury from 2001 to 2011, and often went on WATR radio to answer questions from Ed Flynn, who hosted a talk radio show for almost 20 years in Waterbury. Flynn scaled back his work a few years ago, and now hosts a music show on Saturdays.

"Taste Of Lebanon" In Waterbury This Weekend

Shwarma sandwiches will be one of the many delicious treats offered at the "Taste of Lebanon" which kicks-off tonight in Waterbury at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church at 8 East Mountain Road. Elias Taweh is pictured here at The Gathering on May 18th in downtown Waterbury where the Lebanese tent went through 100 pounds of marinated sirloin steak that was grilled and served in Shawarma, a thin pita bread with shaved meat, vegetables and sauce. The "Taste of Lebanon" goes from 6 pm to midnight on Friday, noon to midnight on Saturday, and 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday.

Froyo World Opens In Waterbury

Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary helps Kathy Thomas, left, Susan Santoro, and Lynn Ward of the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce perform a ceremonial ribbon cutting at Froyo World on West Main Street in Waterbury. Thomas and Santoro are partners in Froyo World. Photographs by John Murray.

Call To Artists For Greater Waterbury Art Show, June 28-29

   Artists from the Greater Waterbury Area are invited to show their works on the streets and in designated buildings in Waterbury. This two day event is free to the public. Everyone will have an opportunity to see the great talent that this area has to offer. Art work will be available for sale. Artists are willing to create commissioned pieces, a portrait, a painting of the old homestead or the family pet.

Dedication, Blessing For New Waterbury Firetruck

                                             By John Murray

Retired Waterbury firefighter Coral Barnes leaned against a new firetruck at the Willow Street firehouse during a dedication ceremony held this afternoon for the new apparatus. The image of Barnes at a ceremony where the firetruck was being baptized and blessed by Fire Department Chaplin Ronald Ferraro was especially significant since Barnes was seriously injured in an accident in 2007 when two Waterbury fire trucks collided, and Captain John Keane lost his life. 

Ethnic Groups In Waterbury Come Together In Library Park To Celebrate Diversity, May 18th

                                                  By John Murray

   Lugging a dream around in your head for 15 years is tiring. The only path to freedom is to hurl yourself towards the fire and either transform the dream into reality, or fail trying. A dream without effort will never materialize, so it was with a sense of relief that I unchained one of my dreams last Autumn, and set out to create a multi-cultural festival in Waterbury celebrating the extraordinary diversity of the people living and working in the city.

An Odyssey Through Greece

Spending a year in Greece was a dream realized. I had the extraordinary opportunity to explore Greek culture, tour the islands and the mountains, and discover buried secrets in my family's past.               

                                           Story By Chelsea Murray


   Why Greece?

   That was the question people asked relentlessly, eyebrows raised, when I stuffed my possessions into a backpack and broken suitcase and jetted off to Greece for a year to study abroad. Greece is a foreign country, but my study abroad plan sounded especially foreign to my inquisitors. Why not London? Why not Spain?

   My answer was simple, “I’m Greek.”

EMT’s And Paramedics Bike 500 Miles for Fallen EMS Providers, Will Travel Through Waterbury

Riders of previous National EMS Memorial Bike Ride. Photo by cherryhill-nj.com

   The National EMS Memorial Bike Ride is proud to announce their 2013 East Coast Ride from Rockland, ME to Collingdale, PA. The NEMSMBR honors EMTs and Paramedics by organizing long distance cycling events that memorialize and celebrate the lives of those who have become sick or injured while performing their duties, and those who have died in the line of duty.

Glimpse Of The Past

Waterbury has always had the ability to rebound from crisis. Forty-two buildings in the city's commercial district were destroyed in a massive fire in 1902, yet three years later downtown was completely rebuilt. This is the view looking south on Bank Street in 1905. The Howland-Hughes building is on the far left.

City Parks Targeted For $1 Million Overhaul

                                                   By John Murray

   Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary (second from the right) listened to a consultant yesterday afternoon during a tour of Library Park in downtown Waterbury. City officials are hoping to use nearly $1 million dollars in federal block grant money to overhaul four neglected parks; three in the South End of Waterbury, and one in downtown, Library Park.