Peter Aucella wins National Award

A proud day for Lowell National Historical Park and Lowell’s own Peter Aucella The recently retired Deputy Superintendent received the prestigious Distinguished Service Award from the Secretary of the Interior today in Washington, DC.


Secretary of the Interior David Berndhadt said of Peter, “Now, as you may know, our department has sometimes been referred to as the department of everything else due to our broad portfolio. But even so, when most people think about the department, they may overlook the work we do in urban areas. For 32 years, Peter served in multiple roles with the department to make national historic landmark preservation district in Lowell, Massachusetts, a model of conservation and restoration for an urban park.”


Peter retired in February after seeing Lowell National Historical Park rise to prominence and celebrate its 40th anniversary just last year.  It is another national  recognition for the park which is featured throughout the country on a U.S. quarter this year.

Bringing Home The Honors from CTI


Each spring, Community Teamwork, Inc. hosts an annual Spring Celebration gala to help support its programming in the Merrimack Valley region.  This year’s gala was themed “Leading the Way Home” and recognized three groups of honorees that have contributed to ending homelessness, particularly among youth, in the region.

Among the honorees were Mayor William Samaras and his predecessor former Mayor and current State Senator Edward Kennedy. Both were honored for the annual Mayor’s Holiday Fest for Homeless Youth, a rock ‘n roll fundraiser designed to raise funds for youth homelessness services.

The Mayor’s Holiday Fest was the brainchild of Senator Kennedy, who attended a similar function in Somerville for several years.  The first annual Mayor’s Holiday Fest took place in 2017 and raised approximately $11,000.  When Kennedy handed off the keys to Room 50 to Mayor in 2018, he challenged his successor to continue the tradition and top his mark–and he did.  The second annual Mayor’s Holiday Fest raised over $18,000.  The tradition will continue later this year with the goal of raising over $20,000 in 2019.

Other honorees for 2019 included Jay Linnehan, President and CEO from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation and The Sisters of Charity of Ottawa and Eric Cousineau for the work done at Bachand Hall.

SpringCelebrationTV.JPGIn addition to the standard speeches and cocktail hour, the CTI Spring Celebration Gala featured an interactive video program where attendees could vote on the answer to certain trivia questions.  Hosted by the CTI youth broadcast team, each honoree was given a segment with one or two questions introduced by a friend or family member of the honoree.  Guests were then invited to vote via their cell phone for the answer they best felt matched the individual or group in question.


For instance, if Ed Kennedy was a member of the Rolling Stones, which one would he be?

You may think its Mick Jagger, but the correct answer is Keith Richards.  At least according to Frank Heslin, Ed’s cousin and the chairman of the Holiday Fest committee.


The audience agreed!



Other honorees received similar trivia treatment with Mayor Samaras’s friends from Long Meadow Golf Club and his granddaughters each giving a different side of his personality.

Each honoree was giving a framed artistic rendering of their home as an award.  Mayor Samaras spoke in accepting the award as well as Senator Kennedy’s wife Susan, as the Senator was in Boston, unable to attend due to the final night of Budget Week at the State House.




“Souper” Bowl Champions Honored at City Hall

We all know about the recent honors for the greatest quarter back of all time. On March 12th, a few Super Bowl champions were honored at Lowell City Hall.  Make that “Souper Bowl Champions”

The annual Lowell Winterfest Ricardo Rourke Memorial Soup Bowl competition honors were once again recognized in a ceremony in the Mayor’s Reception Room prior to the council meeting of March 12th. And just like the Patriots, a repeat champion was in the house.


2019 Winners

Culinary Award

  • First Place: Purple Carrot Bread Company—Chicken Sweet Potato Sage Chowder
  • Second Place: House of Hope—Roasted Tomato and Corn Bisque
  • Third Place: Cobblestones Restaurant—Loaded Baked Potato Soup
  • Honorable Mention: Lao de Café—Khao-Poon Chicken and Coconut Curry

People’s Choice Awards

  • First Place: Cobblestones Restaurant—Loaded Baked Potato Soup
  • Second Place: Lao De Café—Khao-Poon Chicken and Coconut Curry
  • Third Place: Purple Carrot Bread Company—Chicken Sweet Potato Sage Chowder

This year’s celebrity judges were Bobby Tugbiyele, Yun-Ju Choi, Ryan Bonaparte, Sabrina Akintan, and Timna Nwokeji.  Participating restaurants included Lao De Café, Boys and Girls Club of Greater LowellGormley’s Cafe, Wamesit Lanes/FireWater Tavern, Lowell General Hospital Sodexo, Purple Carrot Bread Co.110 Grill, Life Alive, Cobblestones Restaurant, NoLo at the Stonehedge Inn, Coffee and Cotton, Eggroll Café, Fuse Bistro

A Salute to Niki Tsongas


Ever since announcing her retirement from Congress a year ago, Niki Tsongas has been the recipient of many well-deserved honors and appreciations.  Each of these reflective events has highlighted a different constituency that the congresswoman had helped during her 11 years in office.  These celebrations culminated with one last gathering, fittingly at the Tsongas Center, named after her late husband Paul.  Here are a few photos from a reflective morning at the end of a great career.



Jim Cook, Mayor Samaras, Bernie Lynch


Vesna Nuon and Sovanna Pouv


A Souper Celebration


One of the highlights of Winterfest, the annual Soup Bowl Competition showcases delicious soups and chowders prepared by local restaurants.  This year’s soup contest was named in honor of longtime Winterfest supporter and Lowell restauranteur, Richard “Ricardo” Rourke, in honor of his passionate work to make this event a long time success.

On March 20th, Mayor Samaras and Chief Financial Officer Conor Baldwin (filling in for city manager Kevin Murphy, who was under the weather) joined Richard Rourke’s widow, Catherine in recognizing the winners of the 2018 contest.

Fourteen local eateries participated in the “heated” competition.

  • Boys and Girls Club of Greater LowellChili w/ Cornbread
  • Gormley’s CafeLoaded Baked Potato and Bacon
  • UMass Lowell Inn and Conference CenterNew England Clam Chowder
  • Chowder FactoryTuscan Tomato
  • Wamesit Lanes/FireWater TavernLemon Chicken Orzo Soup
  • Lowell General Hospital SodexoCheddar and Ale
  • Purple Carrot Bread Co. Sweet Potato w/ Chicken and Sage
  • 110 Grill – Creamy Tomato Soup
  • Life AliveSpiced Broccoli
  • Cobblestones Stones Beef Stew
  • Sizzling KitchenWonton Soup
  • Crepes and the City-Golden Winter Soup
  • Eggroll CaféMiso Bacon Clam Chowder
  • Fuse BistroFarmer Dave’s Butternut Squash Soup

Prizes were awarded in two categories.  Culinary Awards were decided by an expert panel of judges: Bobby Tugbiyele of The Leap Network, LLC Marianna Wood of Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Merrimack Valley Magazine’s Glenn Prezzano, and Timna Nwokeji, the author of Life’s A Maven food blog.  Marianna and Timna were on hand to help present the awards.


Eggroll Cafe

  • Winner: Life Alive 
  • Runner Up—Purple Carrot Bread, Co.
  • Runner Up—Eggroll Café 

Additional, Winterfest guests were able to vote for their favorites in the People’s Choice Awards.


Purple Carrot Bread Company

  • First Place: Purple Carrot Bread Company
  • Second Place: Eggroll Café 
  • Third Place: Sizzling Kitchen