Martin Luther King Day in Lowell

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Ninety years ago today, January 15, 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia.  For 20 years, the Lura Smith Fund at Middlesex Community  has celebrated his life and legacy with an annual Martin Luther King Day celebration at the Tsongas Arena.

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Last year was Lura Smith’s final year as the event organizer as she planned to turn over responsibility for the event to a new generation.  The theme of the 2018 MLK Day celebration was fittingly “Passing the Ball”.

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The 2019 Martin Luther King Day celebration will be held on Monday, January 21st, but first let’s take a look back at some photos from last year’s event.

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Following the ceremony, guests were invited to attend the UMass Lowell River Hawks vs. University of New Hampshire Wildcats Basketball Game.

 

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Thursday Night is Fight Night!

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Lowell is a city with a rich sporting history.

But the New England Golden Gloves is a tradition in Lowell like no other.

For over 70 years, the New England Gloves have entertained fight fans from around the region right in Downtown Lowell at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

Legendary names such as Rocky Marciano, Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, and of course Lowell’s own Micky Ward have all participated locally in the Gloves, which held its first edition in Lowell in 1947.

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The henrimarchandGolden Gloves Tournament is open to amateur boxers aged 16 and older.  Since the first Golden Gloves tournament in 1923, the Golden Gloves of America, Inc. and its member franchises have provided an opportunity and environment for young athletes to develop lifetime skills. Hundreds of dedicated administrators, coaches, trainers and counselors have unselfishly spent countless times and effort to assist young people in the development of personal character and athletic skills. The Golden Gloves program has led the way in promoting amateur boxing in the United States and has produced the majority of competitors for America’s boxing teams in the Pan-Am and Olympic Games.

While Lowell has hosted the New England championship for the past seven decades, the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions was also held at the Auditorium twice, in 1973 and 1995. Every year the winners of the New England Golden Gloves receive invitations to the Tournament of Champions.

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A fighter inside and outside of the ring

Many of the budding pugilists that compete at the New England Golden Gloves get their training at the legendary West End Gym in Lowell under the tutelage of Arthur Ramalho.  The gym was of course featured in the Hollywood hit, The Fighter, based on the real life story of Lowell brothers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund.  

There’s a City Hall connection too–former Mayor Patrick Murphy trained at Ramalho’s West End Gym as a young boy with his twin brother Dan, who would go on to box in the Silver Mittens and Golden Gloves.  Patrick’s own fighting career continued with winning the intercollegiate boxing championship in Ireland and serving on the Lowell City Council.

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Elizabeth Warren at Lowell’s West End Gym in 2012

This year, Lowell’s Golden Gloves will be held on each and every Thursday night from opening night on January 7th to the New England regional championship bouts on March 7th.  Visit www.lowellgoldengloves.com/ for more information!

City Hall Holiday Open House! 12/11/18

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Please join Mayor William Samaras, City Manager Eileen Donoghue, and the entire City of Lowell at the 2018 Lowell City Hall Holiday Open House.  The annual tradition returns with an evening of food, entertainment, and general holiday cheer!

The party begins at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday December 11th.  To help get into the mood, here are a few photos from City Hall receptions held in years past.

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2017 City Hall Holiday Open House Highlights included the public unveiling of Edward Kennedy’s mayoral portrait.

An annual favorite of the City Hall Reception is of course: Henri the Magnificent! 

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There will be music…

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…and food…

And most of all, great company!

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Oh yeah..and the Big Guy will be in the house too:  Santa Claus!

So please stop by tomorrow for the festivities!

For even more photos check out the Original Room 50 Blog’s coverage of Mayor Patrick Murphy’s Holiday receptions in 2012 and 2013

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A musical fest for a worthy cause

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Mayor Samaras is the first to admit his musical tastes may not particularly be in line with his predecessor’s.  But when it comes to raising funds for a good cause, the mayor is more than willing to trade in his Perry Como tunes for some local Rock ‘N Roll.

Tuesday November 27th is 2018’s Giving Tuesday.  And in what is a new Giving Tuesday tradition, Lowell will descend upon Olympia’s Zorba Music Hall for the 2nd Annual Mayor’s Holiday Fest for Homeless Youth.  The event will be raising funds for the Mayor’s Fund for Homeless Youth at Community Teamwork.

The event originated with former Mayor (and now State Senator-elect) Edward Kennedy’s trips to Somerville for the Annual Boston Calvcade for Homeless.  Mayor Kennedy and his friends frequented the event at the legendary Johnny D’s before deciding in 2017 to import the format to Lowell’s local music scene.

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“I’ve never been shy about stealing a good idea” Kennedy joked on an interview with WCAP to promote the event.

Many of those friends and fellow music fans joined together with others to create a volunteer event committee which has planned the event over the past two years.  The 2018 committee members include Jon Geer, Joe Graham, Frank Heslin, John Heslin, Bob Hoey, Rick Lalime, Connie Martin, Jack McWilliams, James Ostis,  Julia Ripa,  Judy Saba , and Arty Tingas.

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Back: William “Bill” Samaras, Jen Myers, Vanna Howard, James Ostis, Joe Boyle, Corey Belanger; Front: Vesna Nuon, Karen Cirillo

Similarly to Somerville’s event, the charity of choice was targeted on serving the area’s homeless population–with Lowell’s event specifically focused on the problem of Youth Homelessness.

After researching local non-profits, the committee chose to partner with Community Teamwork Incorporated who deliver vital direct services to help folks find and sustain safe, affordable, decent housing.

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School Committee member Connie Martin with a surprise rendition of Santa Baby

It is the focus on young people with housing issues that is most near and dear to the heart of Mayor Samaras, who knew of the struggles some students at Lowell High School faced with homelessness.

The 2017 inaugural event featured thirteen musical acts including a local headliner Gary Hoey, brother of Lowell School Committee member, Bob Hoey. The event raised $11,000 that was donated to Community Teamwork for their efforts as the lead agency for the Merrimack Valley Youth Consortium that works to prevent youth homelessness. This program has been working with teens to help them reunite with their families, or find safe affordable housing on their own. In many cases it is simply a matter of helping a young person with a security deposit or to clear up past debts that can save them from spending years couch surfing, sleeping in their cars or in places not fit for human habitation.

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The Mayors at CTI’s Housing Summit in June 2018

On June 18th, CTI hosted a Youth Housing Summit at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. At that event, former Mayor Kennedy challenged his successor Mayor Samaras to beat the total that was raised in 2017.  With the help of several generous sponsors, the 2nd Annual Mayor’s Holiday Fest for Homeless Youth looks set to reach that mark.

This year’s show features even more local musical acts playing a combination of their own original music and festive holiday classics.  The confirmed performers include Marcia J. Macres and friends, Kevin Wall, Whisky Duo , Bradley Copper Kettle and FriendsNico Rivers and The Black Grass, Funrazrs, Emily DesmondBlindspotPeter LavenderTake Two –  Mike Gacek and Mike PoulinSIMPLICITY – Mickey Kanan of Blackheart , John Powhida, Love Train, Dan Styklunas of Downbeat 5 and George Bisson

Tickets are on sale online and will be available at the door.  Doors Open for the 2nd Annual Mayor’s Holiday Fest for Homeless Youth at 6:00 p.m.

African Festival This Weekend

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It is officially Festival Season in the City of Lowell.  Last week we celebrated Acre Fest  and the countdown is on until the 32nd annual Lowell Folk Festival  later this summer.  This weekend, eyes turn towards the boulevard and the 19th Annual African Festival sponsored by the African Cultural Association.

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Then-Mayor Patrick Murphy visits C.K. Mulenga’s Cape to Cairo Clothing Tent

The first African Festival was held in 2001 and drew a respectable crowd of a few hundred people to JFK Plaza.  It has since grown to one of the biggest festivals of the summer with annual visitors in the thousands.

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Then-Mayor Edward Kennedy, Ben Opara, and Dr. Salah Khelfaoui at 2017 Opening Ceremony

A few images from last year’s African Festival.  The 2017 keynote speaker was Lowell Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Salah Khelfaoui.  Dr. Khelfaoui grew up in Algeria.

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The 2018 African Festival will be this Saturday, June 16th from 11-7 at the Sampas Pavilion and will once again feature all different types of music, dance, food, and more.  This year’s theme is “African Culture: Our Strength, Our Heritage, Our Gift To Mankind.” 

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