As Gloucester’s Downtown Block Parties move into a sixth year tonight, organizers have once again come up with a new twist — perhaps, in some cases, even with a twist of lime or lemon.
The leading new “event” added for tonight’s Block Party, which opens at 6 p.m. with outdoor sidewalk dining, street entertainment and open shopping and mingling along Main Street and its side streets from Duncan and Pleasant to Washington streets, is a Block Party cocktail contest, sponsored by Ryan & Wood Distillery, which is based right here in Gloucester in the Blackburn Industrial Park.
For the contest, several participating Block Party restaurants — from Giuseppe’s at the Washington Street corner to Ohana in the party’s first upper block — will be making cocktails with Ryan & Wood products and offering samples to diners and other visitors, age 21 and older, of course.
Sippers will then be able to vote on their favorite sample to choose the winning mix, and restaurant.
The street party is slated to run to 11 p.m., and is the 16th such event since the downtown promotion was launched in August 2008.
Gloucester life on stage
“North Shore Fish,” by award-winning playwright Israel Horovitz, had a great opening night on Thursday this week, and is expected to continue to draw a steady audience for the three-week production here at Gloucester Stage Company.
But the production is not only set and rooted in Gloucester, it has a local history all its own to boot.
In a 1992 Gloucester Stage production of the piece, the cast visited a waterfront fish processing plant as part of their research. One photograph from that time shows a well-known local, Mick Verga, showing the cast a bit about the business. Decades later, Verga can now been seen working as a court officer at Newburyport District Court.
The characters in the play faced a changing waterfront at a time when the fishing industry began a decline for myriad reasons. In “North Shore Fish,” which has been produced around the globe, the action centers on the fate of some local workers in a fish processing plant. The plant has suffered a downturn in business and they wonder about what will happen to them.
The play had its world premiere in 1986 at Gloucester Stage, where it ran for a six month showing. When the regular season had ended, the popular demand for the show kept it running another three months.
“It was amazing -- it was a local play and local people were turning out, and people were coming who had never seen a play before,” recalled Horovitz in an interview last week. “That’s why I got hooked on writing plays about Gloucester. I found it really exciting to be able to write a play that was based on a real place.”
Horovitz, one of the most prolific American playwrights, has written a dozen plays based in Gloucester.
Andrew Burgreen, Gloucester Stage’s managing director, said he’s already found that the locals have an interest in the piece because it takes place in Gloucester. Local names, sites and establishments are sprinkled throughout the script.
“I think it’s only going to get better,” he said. “The set is amazing and the audience feels totally immersed in the inner workings of a fish processing plant.”
For tickets and more information, call 978-281-4433. The show runs through Aug. 4.
Art show winners
The Magnolia Library and Community Center recently held its 36th annual art show.
Winners of the People’s Choice Awards are listed below:
Best in Watercolor — Michele O’Neil, “Surfs Up”
Best in Pastel — Larry Grob, “Marsh Panorama with House, Essex”
Best in Oil — Roland Kolwicz, “Springtime Magic”
Best in Acrylics — Thomas Marcotti, “The Artisan”
Best in Photography — Robert Allia, “Egrets Serenity”
Best in Mixed Media — Lynda Goldberg, “Blowin’ in the Wind”
Best in Sculpture — Bonnie Malcolm, “Opus 42 (6-15-2011)”
Best in Show — Thomas Marcotti, “The Artisan”
Participating artists were from Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, Ipswich, Haverhill, Newton, Weston, Plymouth, Salem, New Hampshire and more.
The flag at the Veterans’ Center will fly this week in honor of Vietnam War veteran Bruce Carleton McKay.
Born March 18, 1943, he entered the U.S. Army on June 3, 1964, and was discharged June 2, 1967. The specialist 5 served with 504th Headquarters & Service Company in Vietnam.
McKay was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, two Overseas Bars, the National Defense Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal (first award), the Army Commendation Medal, the Sharpshooter Badge (Carbine), and the Marksman Badge (Rifle M-14).
In 1965, while stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia, McKay received the Soldier of the Month Award.
He died Aug. 15, 2012.
The flag was requested to fly in his honor by his wife, Margaret McKay of Gloucester.
Anyone wishing to fly a flag in honor of a deceased veteran can call the Office of Veterans’ Services at 978-281-9740.