Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow Beast

I saw this on my way home tonight, while stopped at the light on North Main and East/West Farm Streets--a giant snow monster, decorated with red spray paint, with "Happy New Year" painted on the side.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Seasonal Images

Here's a batch of festive photos for you. Merry Christmas!

Downtown Waterbury, starting with The Green.

The Lombard Building is decked out this year, with Christmas music playing outside.

The Dunkin' Donuts in the Apothecaries Building always has a nice window painting. The rest of the building, in case you haven't been downtown lately, is being completely renovated for upscale apartments.

A new downtown Bank Street business, Something New, Something Old, did a fantastic window decoration.

Tony's Men's Shop, always elegantly decorated. If only men dressed this well every day!

A few of the trees inside Howland-Hughes.

Lamp post decorations on Bank Street.

There are a lot of houses decked out with lights everywhere in Waterbury. There are a couple of triple-deckers on Wood Street with all three porches decorated. The most spectacular display I've seen is over by Hamilton Park. They had the decorations (on the house and filling the front yard) set up immediately after Halloween.

And, finally, a reminder that the freezing cold temperatures have a purposed--without the cold, we wouldn't have the beauty of frost on windows!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

City Hall Building

I volunteered to give a couple of tours of the dazzling newly-restored and updated city hall building today. An older couple on one of my tours came to this country (and Waterbury) many decades ago. Their parting comment to me was to express delight at finally seeing an appreciation of history and historic architecture equal to that of Europe. They know times are hard, and likely to get harder, but seeing such a magnificent building restored to its glory warms their hearts and lifts their spirits.

There is talk about plans to do more tours in the coming months--keep an eye on for notification when that's finalized.

In the meantime, you can get a look at the building at the rededication ceremony at noon on January 1st, and watch a couple of sneak-peeks below thanks to videos made by the Republican-American newspaper.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Aldermanic Vacancy

I've stayed away from this topic until now. I figured it would best be handled by the Republican Town Committee and other Waterbury Republicans, since they are the ones most immediately and directly impacted by this (I'm a Democrat). Republican Bryan Baker has been addressing the issue on Facebook and in a recent blog post. The responses from the Mayor (on Facebook and in today's newspaper) have been disheartening and even repugnant.

It has been more than three months since Alderman Paul V. Ciochetti resigned from the Board of Aldermen, and Mayor Jarjura is in no hurry to name his replacement. The tipping point for me was a Brass Tack in today's Republican American newspaper. Mayor Jarjura was quoted as saying that fourteen aldermen (instead of the full fifteen) is "more than enough" and that only a "few self-interested parties" want a fifteenth alderman. This is outrageous.

The Mayor is the only person with the authority to name a replacement for Alderman Ciochetti. This gives him the full weight of responsibility to the voters and a tremendous amount of power. By dawdling and avoiding his responsibility, he is creating a dangerous precedent and a tremendous amount of animosity and distrust.

If Ciochetti had been a Democrat, a member of the same party as the Mayor, would he have taken this long to replace him? No need to wonder--just look back to 2008. Sandra Ramirez resigned from the Board of Aldermen late in March 2008. The vacancy was filled in June 2008.

Although the newspaper quoted Jarjura in a way that suggests he has no particular intention to appoint a fifteenth alderman, he wrote on his Facebook page (in response to Bryan Baker asking when the seat would be filled) that "I plan to fill the vacancy after the first of the year." No specific time next year, just some time next year, with no reason for the delay given. This is pathetic and disturbingly lackadaisical. If I were a Republican, I would be furious. As an American and a Democrat, I am disturbed and concerned.

Mayor Jarjura is showing a total disregard and a huge amount of disrespect towards the voters. There are a couple of highly qualified young Republicans who would be excellent Aldermen and who would do a good job of representing their constituents. Since our Aldermen are all at large, not by district, their constituents include all the citizens of Waterbury - Republican, Democrat, Independent and Unaffiliated. By not appointing the fifteenth aldermen, Mayor Jarjura is disrespecting all the voters.

We need every single one of our Aldermen, not however many the Mayor has decided we need. He has a sworn duty to uphold the city charter. His comments in today's newspaper display a total disregard for the charter--if he feels like he can snub his nose at the mandated number of aldermen, what other parts of the charter does he feel like he can ignore?

His quote in the newspaper suggests that he doesn't think he needs to appoint a fifteenth alderman because only a "few self-interested parties" have been telling him to do so. That's no way to run a government. How often does anyone tell him to obey the law? Probably very infrequently, but he is still presumably a law-abiding citizen. 

How does he define "self-interested"? As I understand it, the Republican Town Committee gave him several names to choose from.  Does that make them self-interested? It's the Republican Town Committee's duty to make sure they retain their duly-elected representation in the city government. They are also representing the interests of their constituents. Maybe the Mayor has forgotten that he, too, represents the interests of all of Waterbury's citizens, no matter what their party affiliation (or lack thereof).

Mayor Jarjura has a responsibility to appoint a fifteenth aldermen. By shirking his duty, he is presenting an image of himself as an irresponsible and disrespectful leader. Has he considered that there are several reasons why there hasn't been as much of a clamor for a fifteenth alderman? At first, I think most people assumed there was no need to nag him, because he would of course fulfill his obligation to the voters. Then there was an assumption that he was waiting for the elections to pass--Jason Van Stone, as pointed out in Baker's blog, was almost elected to the Board of Aldermen last year, losing by a mere 91 votes. Van Stone is a likely contender for the vacated seat, but he was running for state office this fall. It made sense to assume that Jarjura was waiting to see if Van Stone won that election before appointing him to the Board of Aldermen. The election came and went, and there still was no appointment. Then, sadly, Mayor Jarjura's father passed away. Naturally, no one was going to nag him about the vacant seat on the Board of Aldermen while he was in mourning. Many people figured he should be allowed some breathing room, that he would get back to work and appoint the fifteenth alderman within a couple weeks. Now those couple of weeks and many more have passed without an appointment. Instead, we've been "treated" to disrespect bordering on abuse of power.

I'm left wondering why the Mayor has decided to wait until next year to select a new Alderman. The only conjectured reason I've heard that seems like a possibility is a little bit devious and underhanded. If a Democrat switches parties and becomes a Republican, how long is the waiting period before that new Republican can be appointed as such to the Board of Alderman? I have no idea, but it's one of the suppositions that is floating around town. Since Mayor Jarjura has not bothered to show us a little courtesy and explain the delay (other than he doesn't think it's important to fill the vacancy), we're left with rumor and conjecture.

I've written and said many times that most of the city's elected officials don't care about my neighborhood. Now I begin to see that certain elected officials are so extremely self-interested that they don't care about anyone other than themselves and their yes-men. I hope that Jarjura sticks to what he has promised and does not run for Mayor again--his ego is getting way too big.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

City Taxes

While doing some research on Waterbury's industrial history, I came across an interesting tidbit of information in Volume I of Pape's History of Waterbury (1918). In 1905, the widow of Augustus Sabin Chase purchased land to create a park in memory of her husband. She donated the park to the city, which led (somehow, not explained by Pape) to a charter amendment "providing for an annual tax for park purposes of one quarter of a mill passed the General Assembly and became a law operative for 1906."

Furthermore, "The appropriation under the new tax brought about rapid improvements particularly at Hamilton Park. Boats were placed on the lake for the first time. Flower beds were laid out, trees were set out, and work was begun on the swimming pool and on the athletic field."

An abundance of park improvements followed over the next few years. A playground was created at Locust and Walnut Streets, the Green was given new soil and seeded with grass, a marsh at Hamilton Park was turned into a lake and a baseball field and lawn tennis courts were laid out. By 1913, Hamilton Park "had become the great breathing place of the city."

I don't know what happened with the park department budget. I can see that they are woefully underfunded, but I don't know if they are still budgeted for a quarter of a mill.

[UPDATE: Since posting this, I've been informed that a quarter of a mill in Waterbury is currently about $1.25 million and that the Waterbury park department operating budget is about $2.1 million. For comparison, the New York City park department operating budget in 2008 was $340 million, while Central Park alone has an operating budget of about $20 million; Lincoln, Nebraska (with a population of about 251,000) has a park operating budget of $11.35 million for its 6000 acres of parks and open space; Lowell, Massachusetts (population of about 104,000) had a park department budget of $2.7 million in 2009.]

If city taxpayers were told that the mill rate was to be increased by a quarter of a mill in order to pay for improvements to the parks, I think they would be happy about that. In fact, the same is probably true for any city service--when we're told the mill rate is going up in order to maintain the status quo, taxpayers rightfully get upset. We're being asked to pay more without getting more, which is hard to stomach when we're not getting enough as it is. But if we were told that the mill rate is going up in order to pay for desired additional city services (like good sidewalks, better enforcement of anti-blight and anti-litter laws, improved parks), I think most taxpayers would be willing to make that sacrifice (assuming they can afford it!).

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


There was a bad fire Monday night, reported in today's Rep-Am. Since the fire happened just down the street from me, I'm very aware of the details. Reading the article in today's paper reminded me of just how unreliable a newspaper account can be. I'll start with reprinting the key portion of the article as it ran in the paper, then correct a few details and add a somewhat important angle that was left out.

City firefighters stop blaze from spreading

Row house residents displaced



WATERBURY — Five peo­ple were displaced after a fire damaged their Wood Street home early Tuesday.

Deputy Fire Chief Rick Hart said the fire, reported at 12:30 a.m., started in the base­ment and spread to the first floor of a row house at 255 Wood St.

[Deleted for copyright reasons]

One man living in the base­ment got out on his own, be­fore firefighters arrived. Another person living in the first floor was not home at the time of the fire.

[Deleted for copyright reasons]

Okay, first of all, the fire was at 225 Wood Street, not 255 Wood Street. I find it interesting that the article states the fire was reported at 12:30 a.m., since the fire engines and police cars arrived at about 11:45 p.m. At 12:15 a.m., I was standing outside watching the firefighters put out the blaze. By 12:30 a.m., the fire was under control and almost completely extinguished.

It's also interesting to see the differences between rumors and official stories (this is getting away from the article). During the fire, word spread quickly that the fire started in the basement (confirmed in this article). By the next day, the word in the community was that the man living in the  basement was smoking crack, fell asleep, and his still-lit crack pipe set his mattress on fire. Today the word in the community is that the fire marshal has determined that the fire was started by a cigarette accidentally starting a mattress fire. So, same basic cause, just a difference in what the guy was smoking.

Now for the important angle that was only barely hinted at in the newspaper article: the Scovill row homes are single-family houses.  225 Wood Street, owned by Anthony and Lucy Karanja, has been illegally subdivided into three apartments, one per floor. This is a typical slumlord sort of thing to do and, indeed, the property has been a source of problems for the community, as you would expect from any property owned by a slumlord. I don't know if the Karanjas were the ones who subdivided the house--they purchased it in 2008 from Susan Stell, who in turn purchased it in 2005 from the estate of Mildred Pinchbeck. Mrs. Pinchbeck is fondly remembered in the neighborhood and took good care of the house, which was her home. It's sad that her home has fallen into the hands of slumlords.

In addition to operating an illegal apartment house (one man rented out the basement, another man rented out the first floor, and a woman with two little children rented out the top floor), the Karanjas appear to be delinquent in paying their taxes on the property and are in the process of selling the house--there is a sale pending realtor sign outside the house.

Another element to the story, which was completely left out of the article, is the functionality of the fire hydrants. According to one witness, the firefighters had trouble getting enough water pressure from the hydrants and may not have been able to use the first hydrant they tried. There is no official report about this, just the eyewitness account. From what I saw (I didn't go outside until about 20-30 minutes after the fire engines arrived), it did seem like it took a while for them to get the hoses running.

In response to the fire, the Scovill Homes Association is going to see if we can get some fire safety information for residents. We're also going to work on creating a fire lane between the houses on Wood and Ives Streets to make it easier for the firefighters to get to the backs of the houses (where they have the best access to the basements).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rell Responds

Well, she sort of responds. I was so upset about the proposal to shut down the Waterbury train line, I wrote the following email to Governor Rell and the local CT delegation:

Governor Rell has proposed shutting down the Metro-North branch lines to Waterbury, Danbury and New Canaan. I am strongly against this proposal. The branch lines are a fundamental necessity. The state should be spending more money to improve the service on the branch lines and promoting commuter ridership, which would reduce traffic congestion on the highways.
For the past two years, I was a regular commuter from Waterbury to New York City. I was completely dependent on the branch line. Without the Waterbury train, there is no way I would have been able to keep my job—I either would have had to quit or I would have been fired.
If the Waterbury branch line is shut down, the only way to get to the main line is to drive to Bridgeport. This would increase the morning commute time for anyone leaving from Waterbury, since there is almost always a traffic backup on Route 8 near Derby. This would also nearly double the cost of the commute to New York City, from about $350 a month to more than $600 a month. When I was commuting to NYC, I was just barely able to afford $350 a month. There is no way I would have been able to afford to drive to Bridgeport. Driving all the way to NYC is even more expensive and time-consuming.
Shutting down the branch line will create a severe hardship for the people who commute from Waterbury to New York or Stamford. Some of the commuters might end up losing their jobs if the branch lines are closed—which will increase the number of people who need the heating assistance.
The Waterbury train line is also used by college students traveling to their campus in Bridgeport. It is used by patients who receive regular medical treatment in Bridgeport. It is used by workers whose jobs are in Bridgeport.
The job market in Waterbury is dead. Job placement specialists are advising those of us who have been laid off to seek jobs in Stamford, New York, New Haven and Hartford. Shutting down the branch lines removes our ability to find employment in some of the few places left where companies are hiring.

I immediately received an auto-reply thanking me for my interest. This afternoon I received a real reply, but it wasn't from Rell herself, it was from her assistant:

Dear Ms. Guest:

Thank you for your correspondence to Governor Rell regarding rail funding. The Governor truly appreciates the time you took to write to her office. Please accept this response on the Governor’s behalf.

Governor Rell does not approve or support cuts to the Metro-North branch lines – Danbury, Waterbury or New Canaan. The list of cuts was prepared by the Office of Policy and Management as a menu of options for the Legislature to consider as a way to fill a funding hole in the winter home heating assistance program for seniors and low-income families. The Governor has worked too hard and too long to ensure that Connecticut’s transportation system is upgraded and continues to move forward. Governor Rell is committed to commuter rail and will continue to advocate for it until she leaves office.

Thank you again for sharing your comments and concerns with Governor Rell and do not hesitate to contact our office in the future.

Linda Sandiaes
Staff Assistant
Office of Governor M. Jodi Rell

I like how Rell has swiftly distanced herself from the proposal, even though she was the one who submitted it. Last week, she was content to take credit for the proposed budget cut (along with proposed cuts to other essential items including school bus transportation and the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism). This week she claims that she had nothing to do with the proposal, it was someone else's fault.

I also had very nice email responses from Anthony D'Amelio and Selim Noujaim. D'Amelio assured me that the Waterbury delegation would be speaking to Governor Rell about the issue later this week, while Noujaim wrote that he was appalled by the proposal and will be fighting it "tooth and nail."

Congressman Chris Murphy was also upset by the proposal to shut down the branch lines and held a press conference at the Waterbury station this afternoon, right before he had to leave for D.C.

A full complement of news media was present, as were quite a few supporters of the train line--Reggie Beamon, Peter Dorpalen, Peter Marcuse, Main Street Waterbury, Waterbury Development Corporation, Mayor Jarjura, Alderman Pernerewski, and State Senator Joan Hartley (who sent me an email just as I was finishing this blog post, letting me know she spoke at the press conference today). I was there mainly to represent the commuters who are dependent on the train (the upside of being laid off--I've got plenty of free time!).

I chatted briefly with Congressman Murphy before the formal event began. It was gratifying to have a chance to point at the old abandoned SNET building (now owned by the state) while explaining that tearing it down would reduce the number of car break-ins, and to point to the security cameras and explain that their video feed really should be going to the Waterbury Police Department, not just to the MTA in New York.

It's a long, slow process, but if we keep fighting, we'll keep seeing improvements.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rell's Parting Proposal

I'm having another Homer Simpson moment today, feeling reduced to gibberish because I've been confronted with something so absurd and outrageous I can't get my words out fast enough in response.

Governor Rell, in her final days in office, has proposed shutting down the Metro-North branch lines to Waterbury, Danbury and New Canaan, reallocating the branch lines' $5 million state budget for the Low-Income Home Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This comes a year after she proudly spent $60 million (mostly federal money) to upgrade the Danbury line.

Adding to the absurdity of the proposal is the information (in today's Rep-Am), that the Department of Social Services has reported a $70 million balance in the LIHEAP fund, which suggests that it doesn't need the $5 million from the branch lines.

The bulk of the absurdity is the concept that shutting down the branch lines would be a good idea. Connecticut has close to the highest unemployment rate in the region. The Metro-North branch lines take commuters from places where there are almost no jobs (like Waterbury) to jobs in Stamford and New York City. I spent the past two years working in New York City while living in Waterbury, and my ability to retain that job was completely dependent upon the existence of the branch line. My train pass cost me approximately $350 a month. Parking in Waterbury is free (and I learned to park my car at the entrance to the station, where it can be seen from the road; cars that park near the platform are hidden from the road by an abandoned building, which the state refuses to demolish; the parking spaces hidden by the abandoned building are nearly always full of broken glass from thieves breaking into the cars parked there; Metro-North installed security cameras, after which the break-ins stopped briefly--but then the thieves apparently figured out that the video footage goes to NYC and is not available to the Waterbury police, who would actually be able to identify the thieves).

The downside to taking the train from Waterbury is the limited schedule of six trains each way per day. I tried driving to the main line, parking in Bridgeport, but this was obviously a bad idea. The difference in the fares is negligible--I'd save $19 a month in the train fare leaving from Bridgeport instead of Waterbury. But then you have to add in the cost of driving the 33 miles twice a day between Waterbury and Bridgeport (330 miles a week), plus the cost of parking in Bridgeport, which is not free (I don't know the monthly rate, but the daily rate is $6, so it's safe to estimate at least $100 per month). To sum that up, taking the train from Waterbury to NYC costs about $350 a month. Driving to Bridgeport and taking the train from there costs over $600 a month.

In addition to the cost of driving to the main line, there is also the danger and the hassle. Route 8 can be relied upon to have a massive traffic backup as you approach Ansonia/Derby, adding at least 20 minutes to the morning travel time. Shut down the Waterbury line, and there will be an increase to the number of vehicles traveling on Route 8 in the morning. At night, traffic jams are less likely on Route 8, but after a very long, exhausting day, the chances that I will be in a car accident are higher. When I take the train, I don't have to worry about getting into an accident.

Another alternative to driving is taking a bus. I looked into taking the bus, but that's even more expensive than driving to Bridgeport and taking the train from there. And the bus line is also subject to traffic delays, which the train is not.

I'm rambling a bit here, but I want to clarify that shutting down the branch line will create a severe hardship for the people who commute from Waterbury to New York or Stamford. Some of the commuters might end up losing their jobs if the branch line is closed (and might then increase the number of people who need the heating assistance!).

The Waterbury train line is also used by college students traveling to their campus in Bridgeport. It is used by patients who receive regular medical treatment in Bridgeport. It is used by workers whose jobs are in Bridgeport.

The job market in Waterbury is dead. Job placement specialists are advising those of us who have been laid off to seek jobs in Stamford, New York, New Haven and Hartford. Shutting down the branch lines removes our ability to find employment in some of the few places left where companies are hiring.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Justine Chase

Justine Whittemore Chase (born in 1906) was a daughter of Waterbury's Frederick Starkweather Chase and Elsie Rowland Chase--the same Chase family that founded and owned Chase Brass & Copper. Fred Chase and his large family lived at 165 Grove Street with eight servants (as listed in the 1910 and 1920 Census Records). The family also had a home overlooking Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury. A portrait of Justine's sister, Frederika, is at the Mattatuck Museum.

A few years ago, I picked up a memoir Justine Chase published in 1988, A World Remembered, at John Bale Books. Many of the illustrations were paintings by her mother, Elsie Rowland Chase. It's a lovely little book, with a very nice blurb by May Sarton, one of my favorite authors, on the back cover.

Justine Chase, from the little I can glean (mostly from the book's dust jacket), had a fascinating life. Her poetry was published in the Atlantic Monthly, she collaborated on several plays, and held leading roles in several Broadway plays including Kind Lady. When that play was produced as a film starring Basil Rathbone, Chase appeared as his wife Ada.

Justine Chase as Ada, in Kind Lady (1935)

The movie can be watched on YouTube, broken into nine segments. Chase first appears about seven minutes into the third segment (embedded below), playing the supposedly ailing wife of Rathbone's con artist role.

Chase moved to England after World War II.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Little Bit of Excitement

I was (and am) sitting at my desk in my home office just now, researching the history of Chase Collegiate School, when I heard a noise at the window. The cat sleeping next to me heard the noise too, and boy did he wake up fast! The noise was being made by a White-Breasted Nuthatch, a regular visitor to my birdfeeder, but one of the more difficult birds for me to photograph. He moves quickly when he's at the feeder, and tends to stay on the far side of the feeder. But now, after months of trying to photograph him, here he is, posing sweetly for me.

He must be feeling extra brave today, because he stuck around for a full minute. Maybe he couldn't see well through the window. He seems completely indifferent to my cat, who was so excited to be this close to a bird.

Below us, I noticed the Mourning Dove hanging out in her usual spot on the branches. I've never seen a dove try to eat at the bird feeder, but there's almost always a dove hanging out while the smaller birds feed. There's a Blue Jay, also large, that swoops in, grabs a sunflower seed, then flies back to a tree branch to crack it open and eat it. I'm not sure what the doves do. Maybe pick up discarded seeds that fall on the ground?

After I photographed the dove, I realized there was someone on the ground also staring at her (not one of my cats).

I've been trying to buy one of those seed-shaped bells for my other birdfeeder, which I keep just outside the dining room window, but the stores don't seem to be carrying them. But I guess everyone is happy with the sunflower seed feeder!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Missed a Spot!

Last month, the city finally sent a crew over to my neighborhood to repair our crumbling sidewalks. We've been requesting this for years, so we were happy to finally get a result. But it turns out that it wasn't much of a result. The first bit of disappointment was learning that the city would be slapping a  layer of asphalt over the sidewalks--if we're lucky, this will last five, maybe ten years before it needs to be redone. There's a section of asphalt sidewalk that was put in on Long Hill Road after a washout in 2008, and it looks like it won't last another winter, already bubbling up, cracking and otherwise showing that it is just about ready to be washed away again. Slapping a layer of asphalt on sidewalks is ultimately a waste of money. Carefully laid-out, professionally installed concrete sidewalks last decades. They are more expensive in the short run, but significantly less expensive over the long term.

We weren't pleased to be getting asphalt instead of concrete, but we figured it was better than nothing, would improve public safety, and would help us in our efforts to improve our neighborhood. Our next disappointment came when we realized that the city was not going to do a thorough job. Not every stretch of sidewalk needed to be repaved, but they completely missed numerous sections that are a wreck. The other week, I watched a small child ride his tricycle along the new sidewalk on Carpmill, but when he got to Wood Street, where the sidewalk was a disaster, he switched to riding in the street.

Here are a few examples of sidewalk that should have been patched but weren't. There are a lot more sections, some of which are far worse than these.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Walk in the Park

I'm under doctor's orders to get regular exercise, even if it's just walking. I'm not good at getting regular exercise. I don't cope well with the monotony. So I've decided to make it interesting by combining things I do enjoy: exploration, photography and blogging. On a regular day, I'll walk 30 minutes. Once or twice a week, I'll go on a long walk about Waterbury, exploring the city, finding photogenic scenes and then blogging about it later. Today I started with what turned out to be a two hour walk. After 45 minutes, I was feeling sore and sat down for a few minutes in Hamilton Park.

There are plenty of photogenic scenes in Hamilton Park. Cameras can be deceptive. You'd never guess (unless you've been here) that the first photo (above) isn't in the middle of the countryside, that directly behind me is heavy traffic congestion and exhaust fumes. You can see a hint of the traffic in the next photo, of the cannon in front of the Liberty House.

Winter is almost here, but there are still a few roses in bloom.

Most of the trees in Hamilton Park are fairly generic Connecticut trees, but there are a few more distinctive ones.

The Liberty-Victory House:

A long view towards the cross at Holyland, with the new indoor sports complex a little closer up.

The Hamilton Park swimming pool. Shouldn't it be covered up for the season? Wouldn't a cover help protect it from vandalism?

Beautiful birch trees:

A great little detail on the fence, sadly neglected and allowed to rust.

The pond, with Seven Angels theater in the distance.

Many geese, but no one was feeding them. And they didn't seem to expect me to feed them. But they did pose for me.

A light game of soccer. I don't know why there's so much fence around the playing fields. Chain link doesn't keep out people, it's easy to climb. Maybe to keep out dogs?

I took a lot more photos of other places on my walk, but I'll save them for future blog posts.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Season Downtown

Everyone is gearing up for the holiday season, and this year there will be a special one for Waterbury's downtown. The newly renovated City Hall building will be open for special guided tours in December, leading up to the grand rededication ceremony on January 1st. You can stay updated on the City Hall events through the official website (still being fleshed out).

The city started putting up the holiday lights on the Green yesterday. The lights will be turned on during the Tree Lighting Ceremony the day after Thanksgiving. It's always breathtakingly beautiful, and the perfect thing to dispel the gloom of winter. I wish they would keep them on until February. The Waterbury Spirit Committee will work with Main Street, the City, the Brass Mill Mall, and Ryan Gomes to provide ice skating during the tree-lighting and for the rest of the season. Following the ceremony, artificial ice will be set up behind the library, on the enclosed courtyard, and skates will be available for free for young children.

Many of the downtown businesses also get into the festive winter spirit and decorate their store windows. Main Street Waterbury will once again this year be holding a Holiday Window Display Competition to encourage and celebrate the spectacular displays. Photos of previous years' displays are in some of my older blog posts--2008 (also with images from the Tree Lighting Ceremony), a few 2007 displays and 2006 displays.

John Bale Books on Grand Street will be hosting a series of free Saturday programs in December: Regina Laudis Scola will perform on December 4; Elaine Schieffer will be doing Christmas Karaoke on December 11; and a wonderfully talented Sacred Heart student will be singing her original songs on December 18.

Also coming up this season is Shakesperience's production of A Christmas Carol, which will be performed Dec. 16th-19th 7pm every night with a 2pm matinee on Saturday and Sunday. And keep an eye out for information about the Festival of Trees and the classic displays at the Howland Hughes Center. Below are some photos from the Festival at Howland Hughes last year. If you've never taken your kids there, you should--Hank Paine does such a great job, especially with the animatronic "activation".