By John Murray

There was an astounding response to Mayor Neil O’Leary’s offer to pay Waterbury youth to help shovel out the schools. At least 500 kids packed the entire upper floor of City Hall, filling both Veteran Memorial Hall, aldermanic chambers, and the hallway inbetween. It’s hard to imagine that more city residents have ever been in City Hall at one time. An historic response to an historic crisis. Very cool.

With the school system shut down again on Wednesday, area youth with have another shot at helping the city dig out from Nemo, and earn a few dollars in the process. Mayor O’Leary has again invited city youth to come to City Hall tomorrow morning, Wednesday, at 8:30 to begin a second day of snow removal. The mayor said he is open to additional youth heeding the call for help, but depending on how many people show up, first preference will be given to those who worked today. The city spirit is alive and well.

More than 500 Waterbury residents showed up at City Hall today to accept Mayor Neil O’Leary’s proposal to pay them minimum wage to help the city dig out from the wrath of nor’easter Nemo. School is cancelled tomorrow, Wednesday, and Mayor O’Leary said city officials will decide by noon tomorrow whether the schools and neighboring sidewalks will be safe enough to reopen the school system on Thursday.

Coordinating the astounding turnout of youth at Waterbury City Hall today was a daunting and historic challenge for Lt. Robert Cizauskas of PAL, Mayor Neil O’Leary, and Paul Guidone, the chief operating officer of the Waterbury public schools. City officials weathered the initial tsunami and are tightly organized for tomorrow’s continuing clean up effort. City youth 14 and older who are interested in making minimum wage to help clear sidewalks and school walkways should be at City Hall on Grand Street by 8:15 am. Bring a snow shovel.

Hundreds of city residents waited for buses to transport them to Waterbury schools so they could begin snow removal from the sidewalks and driveways. Mayor O’Leary sent out an invitation Monday night to area youth through social media networks offering to pay them minimum wage to assist the city in cleaning up. O’Leary said he had expected 100 teenagers to show up at City Hall today, and was “overwhelmed and thrilled” when more than 500 jammed into Veterans Hall and Aldermanic Chambers. The response was so strong that O’Leary had to call John DuFour from All Star Transportation for help. Within 20 minutes DuFour had sent 10 school buses. 80% of the city residents who showed up were teenagers, but there were nearly 100 adults who joined them for the opportunity to earn some money and help the city get back on its feet.. The Snow Brigade cleared 12 schools, City Hall and the library. A fantastic day in Waterbury today.

Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary was both ringmaster and field general in attempting to bring order to the bedlam that descended upon City Hall today as more than 500 city youth accepted his offer to shovel snow for minimum wage. O’Leary had expected 100 teenagers to accept his proposal, but when the crowd filled the upper floor of City Hall, O’Leary laughed and said, “this is awesome.”