The second Gloucester Downtown Block Party is set for tonight, and many residents and visitors will join in the spirit of outdoor dining outside some of their favorite Main Street restaurants.
Block Party II — like the acclaimed Block Party I, which drew thousands of people downtown in August — isn't all about food, or even music. A lot of local shops are pulling out a lot of special stops, including cha-cha lessons and belly dancing instruction, to make the Block Party a well-rounded festival.
The Dress Code at 159 Main, for example, will host a group cha-cha lesson, with a national ballroom dance champion, Cape Ann Dance instructor Lee Cronk, leading the way from 7 to 8 p.m.
Other special performances will include presentations by Miss Tina's Dance Studio near Hancock Street, Ian McColl outside Dogtown Bookstore, the Cape Ann Center for Dance, and, yes, a tribal belly dance "performance and instruction" program by Metamorphosis Studios.
Block Party II, which is set to run overall from 6 to 11 p.m., is expanded this time, extending along Main Street between Washington and Pleasant streets.
There will be live music from 7 to 11 p.m., outdoor media slideshows on Main near Center Street, and a variety of other art projects — including a pumpkin carving and painting contest at 180B Main, and a taste of seArts' "Partner with an Artist" program.
Also, the "Pink Ladies" will be walking about in historic attire in their continuing effort to raise awareness of the fight against breast cancer, adding to the colorful atmosphere of the downtown celebration.
Paint Factory tour
There was also a sense of celebration earlier this year when the nonprofit Ocean Alliance acquired the historic Paint Factory.
Now, the Alliance is poised to welcome residents to its new digs — a site whose exterior is a Gloucester landmark, but whose interior is rarely visited.
The Ocean Alliance is hosting a one-time viewing tour and art show at the historic Tarr and Wonson Paint Manufactory on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 10 to 3 and Sunday, Oct. 26, from 10 to 2. Transportation will be provided to and from the site from the parking lot of Cape Ann Whale Watch at 415 Main St.
Vacant since 1980, the Paint Manufactory was purchased by Ocean Alliance in June, in large part through a grant from the Annenberg Foundation.
"The outside will reflect the past and the inside will reflect the future," said Iain Kerr, CEO of Ocean Alliance. "As we move forward with the restoration campaign we will forge a template so that we can adapt to the future without sacrificing Gloucester's proud history".
In 1863, The Tarr and Wonson Paint Manufactory revolutionized the fishing industry with the invention of copper paint that improved vessel speed and maneuverability.
Fishermen used the factory's smoke stack as a navigational tool and a guide on foggy days. The property had been vacant since 1980.
Fishermen of the future
Hats off to both the youth winners of Winchester Fishing Co. Inc.'s boys' and girls' 2008 bluefish and striped bass tournament — and to the company's officials, owner Dick Winchester, secretary Jessica Church and foreman Doug Clodgo — for making the tournament a reality.
The free contest, open to boys and girls under 14, drew 17 entries this year, Winchester said.
The striped bass winners, from first to sixth place along with their fish's weight, were Jesse Glidden, 35.40 pounds; Joal Leanos, 32.45; Mike Vaiarella, 26.50; Cameron DeCoste, 20.45; Connor Quinn, 19.85; and Peter Mondello, 19.80.
Bluefish winners were Peter Mondello, 11.30 pounds; Tom Vaiarella Jr.; 9.55; Mike Vaiarella, 8.30; Patrick Belding, 8.25; Ben Wilichoski, 7.50; and Dylan Crawford, 7.35.
Besides being awarded either trophies or engraved plaques, the winners were also given either fishing gear or gift certificates as prizes.
"They will become tomorrow's fishermen," said Al Williams, veteran bass fisherman, who was a contest winner in this year's Winchester adult bass and bluefish tournament.
The flag at the Veterans' Center will fly this week in honor of Civil War veteran Andrew Elwell. Born Oct. 13, 1818, he was commissioned Oct. 24, 1861, and entered the U.S. Army on Dec. 4, 1861. The major served with Field Staff 23rd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He served in Baltimore, Md., Roanoke Island, Newbern, Bachelder's Creek, Petersburg, Va., Smithfield, Drury's Bluff, and Cold Harbor, Va.
He was discharged Sept. 20, 1864, and died May 15, 1903. The son of Samuel and Nancy (Marien), Elwell is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery.
The flag was requested to fly in his honor by the Office of Veterans' Services.
Anyone wishing to fly a flag in honor of a deceased veteran can call the Office of Veterans' Services at 978-281-9740.