The Gathering - Let's Do It Again

The first inclusive multi-cultural festival in Waterbury history - The Gathering - was held in 2013, and was so successful, that it will now become an annual event, the next one being tomorrow, May 17th, from 11 am to 8 pm in downtown Waterbury. Pictured above are Brazilian samba dancers marching in the 2013 parade.

                                  Column and Photographs By John Murray

    There was one moment during The Gathering last year that will stick in my memory until my last breath. The moment was wrapped in anticipation, anxiety and exhaustion. A small group of volunteers and city employees had been planning the festival for months; recruiting ethnic groups, plotting parade routes, and dealing with insurance, electricity, and details we didn’t even know existed. When May 18th arrived we were unsure of what we had created. There were more than 40 cultural groups signed up to share their music, food and dance, but were they going to show up?

Mario Generali Remembered At Boys and Girls Club Awards And Scholarship Dinner

                                              By John Murray

   Mrs. Mario Generali, and her son, Ed Generali, peek over at the Reverand Ronald Ferraro last night during an awards dinner for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Waterbury at La Bella Vista. The late Mario Generali was being honored for his 45 year-dedication to the Boys Club. Ed and his mother were looking at Reverend Ferraro after Ed announced that Ferraro had attended his parent's wedding as an alter boy. 

Flags On City Hall Announce The Gathering

                                              By John Murray

   Members of the Crosby High School LifeSmarts team won the Connecticut State Championship and will compete this weekend for the national championship in Florida. Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary acknowledged the accomplishment by treating the kids to a pizza party inside City Hall, and then asked them to participate in a flag raising ceremony to kick-off "The Gathering", a city-wide celebration of cultural heritage which will be held in downtown Waterbury on May 17th. Waterbury residents have found their way to the city from every corner of the globe, and The Gathering is an opportunity for city residents to share the traditions of music, food and dance from their homelands. Last year 40 ethnic groups participated in the festival, and flags from each country was displayed in front of City Hall.

The Troubles

                                      Column By John Murray

   One year after being released from federal prison John Rowland walked into my home in Morris to begin a year-long book project. The three-term former governor of Connecticut had once been considered a presidential candidate, and now, humbled by a ten-month “government sponsored sabbatical”, he was a different man. He still possessed his wicked sense of humor, but the entourage was gone, and he limped from an old wrestling injury.

O'Leary Looking For City To Purchase Historic Rose Hill Property In Downtown Waterbury

Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary with a portion of the Rose Hill property looming in the background. The property, which O'Leary is interested in having the city purchase, includes several acres overlooking downtown Waterbury, a renovated historic mansion, a school and a gymnasium.

                                              By John Murray

   Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary spent the first 10 months in office focused intensely on trying to help facilitate the merger of St. Mary's Hospital and Waterbury Hospital into a new privately funded $500 million new state-of-the-art hospital built in downtown Waterbury. O'Leary, his economic development team, and Governor Dan Malloy, came within a whisker of pulling off the project, which ultimately collapsed over a clash about women's reproductive rights.

Rod Dixon, Mayor Neil O'Leary Help Launch Kid's Marathon In Waterbury

A passionate man, Rod Dixon implored students at North End Middle School in Waterbury to fully participate in the Kid's Marathon program, and to bring the message of activity and health back into their homes.

                                                By John Murray

   Long-distance running legend, Rod Dixon, of New Zealand, was back in Waterbury Thursday morning to help kick-off the second year of his Kid’s Marathon running program in the city. Dixon won the bronze medal in the 1500 meter run at the 1972 Olympics, was a World Champion cross-country runner, and the winner of the 1983 NYC Marathon. Now 63, Dixon has dedicated his life to bringing his passion of running and healthy living to elementary and middle school students in California and Connecticut. In time, Dixon hopes his Kid’s Marathon program spreads across America.

The "Velvet Sky's" The Limit For "Impact Wrestling's" (and Waterbury's own), Jamie Szantyr

 

                                     Story by Gerry Strauss

    Remember when women’s pro wrestling was nothing but a sideshow? For many fans growing up, the females of the “squared circle” provided nothing but cheap, campy fun, just a step or two above mud pits and bikini contests. Luckily, things have changed. Pro wrestling now presents women as strong, capable athletes, some of whom just happen to be gorgeous.

Heroin Deaths In Connecticut On Increase

   Today, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) met with local service providers, law enforcement, health care advocates, and patients to discuss the growing heroin epidemic in Connecticut. Over the last decade, heroin use has nearly doubled in the United States. In Connecticut and other states in New England, deaths related to heroin use have spiked in the last year. On average, one person dies every day in Connecticut from an opioid overdose.

Tavara Selected For Annual Sasala Award

   Main Street Waterbury has announced that the recipient of the 2014 Main Street Waterbury Stephen R. Sasala II Community Partnership Award is Frank Tavera, chief executive officer of the Palace Theater Group, Inc. Tavera will receive the award during a presentation Thursday, May 15 at the Palace Theater between 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Award was created by Main Street Waterbury to celebrate the leadership and contributions of the late Stephen R. Sasala, former CEO of the Waterbury Regional Chamber and former president of Main Street Waterbury Board of Directors.

The Daily Riddle

 

  The Observer received this essay from Waterbury resident Vilem Fruhbauer, and it's entitled "The Daily Riddle". 

   "I went the other day to my bank on Chase Avenue and they had a board there with a Daily Riddle on it that went like this: "It belongs to you, but others use it more. What is it?" Being March, my answer was obvious, so I went to the teller and told her: "I know the answer - it's my tax money". She said: "That is not the right answer - the right answer is YOUR NAME."

O'Leary Trip To Macedonia Draws Interest

                                               By John Murray

   Macedonians and Greeks have responded to the news that Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary, above right, is traveling to Struga, Macedonia, this summer, to cement a sister city agreement between Struga and Waterbury.

   The Balkan Peninsula has long been mired in border disputes and ethnic tension, and O'Leary's strong relationship with the local Albanian community in Waterbury led to the sister city relationship. Struga's mayor, Ziadin Sela, above left, is an ethnic Albanian, and 60 years ago Struga was officially a part of Albania. As borders shifted, Struga is now a part of Macedonia, a country that didn't exist decades ago. Greece opposed the use of Macedonia as a name for the new country (which declared independence as Yugoslavia broke apart) and has opposed Macedonia's efforts to join the European Union entirely based on the name dispute.

   To say the situation is complicated is as understated as saying New England has had a tough winter.

Meeting Of Ethnic Albanians In South End Of Waterbury Draws International Interest

                                                By John Murray

   The Albanian ambassador to the United States, Gilbert Galanxhi, right,, made a visit to the Albanian-American Community Club in the South End of Waterbury on January 11th, and his remarks have drawn interest from journalists in Macedonia and Albania. Galanxhi was joined in Waterbury by U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (left), Bekim Sejdiu, the Counsel General of Kosovo, Ziadin Sela, the mayor of Struga, Macedonia, and Neil O'Leary, the mayor of Waterbury, Connecticut.

Waterbury Wins $120,000 For Kid's Marathon

Rod Dixon, right, a legendary runner who is both an Olympic medalist and the winner of the 1983 NYC Marathon, introduced a fitness program in Waterbury last Spring that helped the city snare a $120,000 grant today in Washington D.C.. Dixon is shown here with Mike Dalton, left, who helped the Dixon Foundation set up shop in Waterbury. Dixon is encouraging seven-year-old Cameron Raver to run the Kid's Marathon last year after Cameron was trampled at the start. When Cameron was unsteady, Dixon personally escourted Cameron the final mile to encourage the completition of the marathon. Photograph by John Murray

   Today, Mayor Neil M. O’Leary accepted a first place award at the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) for Waterbury’s Kid’s Marathon Program.  The Conference, held in Washington D.C., gave six awards to mayors of cities with outstanding programs that encourage healthy weight through balanced diet choices and regular physical activity.