A beer garden in the parking lot of BankGloucester and an expanded list of street performers, including a character called "Alakazam! The Human Knot" will be among the attractions Saturday evening when the city and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce host the second of this summer's three Downtown Block Parties.

The event, which runs from 6 to 10 p.m., will once again convert Main Street from Washington to Pleasant and Duncan streets into a virtual pedestrian mall and more, with outdoor entertainment and outdoor dining at several Main Street restaurants in the heart of the action.

Chamber senior Vice President Peter Webber said the Drift Cafe, Cafe Sicilia, Cafe Bishco, Trio, Jalapeno's and Short & Main will all be offering sidewalk dining as one of the party's regular and most popular features. And then there's the first-time offering of the beer garden, and entertainment with the likes of Alakazam!

"He's a contortionist, and he ought to be a highlight of the show," said Webber, adding that the Circus Up aerial acrobatic troupe adds another entertainment flavor to the number of local musical performers.

This is the 12th year for the block parties, which began in September 2008 as a means of attracting residents and visitors alike to Gloucester's historic downtown.

"It's always a lot of fun," Webber said, "and this one should be, too."

The third and final block party of the year will be Friday night, Aug. 30.  

Hall of Fame Ranger

A proud father came into the Times to share the news that his son is now a Hall of Famer.

Late last month, retired Cmd Sgt. Maj. Arthur J. McCann III was inducted into the 27th annual U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia, for his 27 1/2-year career of service. 

"He's a real soldier," said his dad, Arthur J. McCann Jr. He said his son grew up in Gloucester, graduated from Gloucester High School and worked for him at AJ McCann, a contractor, before deciding he wanted to do something else. That something else was the Army.

After enlisting in 1982, the younger McCann took part in Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama, with the 1st Ranger Battalion, and multiple missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. While in Afghanistan he was awarded the Purple Heart. He was also awarded the Soldier's Medal for Heroism for rescuing a soldier from a downed aircraft at the risk of his life. McCann, a high-ranking noncommissioned officer, was also a paratrooper, making five combat jumps.

Upon his retirement, he was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service to the country.

His dad says he now lives in Georgia with his family and is an assistant principal and coach.

The older McCann said there is tradition of military service in the family. He and his wife are both veterans of the Korean War, and his son's three children all did 10 years in the armed services, too.

Another firefighter Aiello

Gloucester has a new firefighter, but it's one with a very familiar name.

Nicholas Aiello, a 2011 Gloucester High School graduate who was hired by the city's Fire Department in February 2018 after serving four years in the U.S. Navy, graduated Friday as part of a 37-member class from the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy in Stow.

Aielllo was the only Cape Ann firefighter in the graduating class, which included personnel from 23 departments across the state. He previously earned his paramedic certification from Northern Essex Community College.

In completing the 10-week fire academy training course, Aiello not only bolsters the full-fledged ranks of the department, but also adds to the ranks of Aiellos within it. He is a son of retired Assistant Chief Tom Aiello, a brother of current firefighter/paramedic Matthew Aiello and a nephew of Joe Aiello, the department's assistant chief and the city's emergency management director.

Nicholas Aiello, who was part of the academy's graduation ceremonies Friday, drew congratulations from Gloucester fire Chief Eric Smith.

"We are confident his training and education has prepared him to serve the city of Gloucester for many years to come," Smith said. "The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy offers a rigorous program, and graduating speaks volumes about a person's dedication to firefighting and serving their community."

Listening up

City officials are hoping that a lot of folks will be speaking up and "listening up" when Gloucester hosts a listening post regarding a behavioral health and ambulatory treatment system Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. in City Hall's Kyrouz Auditorium.

The session is part of an initiative by the state's Executive Office of Health and Human Services, which has initiated what Secretary Marylou Sudders calls an "intensive effort to redesign the front door of behavioral health."

"Together, we will imagine a system that presents a no-wrong-door point of entry," she said in a prepared statement. "A system with same-day access, that defines community-based emergency and urgent care responses and untangles the maze that has been created in the absence of a coherent system. This system must meet the unique needs of the Commonwealth’s population across all ages and must be culturally and linguistically appropriate."

The project is being hailed by Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, who, in a Facebook post earlier this week, noted the urgency of the project.

"Please help me help our children and our teachers," the mayor said. "Teachers need to teach, not be therapists.

"The lack of therapists and mental health beds for juveniles is outrageous — children waiting 13 days in emergency rooms, waiting up to six months for a therapist," she continued.

"DA Jonathan Blodgett's office has been working closely on this issue, and trying to help prevent children in juvenile status in the court system," she continued. "Please come to this listening session if you know someone or dealt with someone, especially teachers, hospitals and parents. Governor Charlie Baker is setting up these listening sessions so he can get better programs where needed — (but) he can’t help us if we don’t tell him."

Time for 'Sgt. Stubby'

Wednesday's rainstorm washed "Mary Poppins" out of her scheduled film showing as part of Gloucester's HarborWalk Cinema series. Perhaps "Sgt. Stubby" will have better luck next week.

The film "Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero," will be featured on the portable movie screen at the city's waterfront I-4, C-2 lot, once again beginning at dusk. The film, like all in the series, will be presented free of charge, and is being sponsored by Cape Ann Veterans Services.

The colorful, computer-animated film tells the tale of a stray Boston terrier who is adopted by a young U.S. Army private and goes on to become a hero during World War I.


Saturday, Aug. 10, 6-10 p.m.

Beer Garden in the parking lot of BankGloucester, sponsored by BankGloucester.


Bank Gloucester Stage

(Sponsored by BankGloucester)

 6 p.m.: Toni-Ann Enes. 

7 p.m.: John Jerome Band.

Center Stage

(Sponsored by Cape Ann Savings Bank)

6 p.m.: Quentin Callewaert

7:30 p.m.: Allen Estes and Jon Butcher 

West End Stage

(Sponsored by Institution for Savings)

6 p.m.: Alexandra and Josh

7:30 p.m.: Carlo Cicala & Mediterranean Sounds


Sargent House

6 p.m.: Gloucester Stage Youth Acting Workshop.

Hancock & Main streets

6:15 to 7 p.m.: Alakazam! The Human Knot!

7:45 - 8:45 p.m.: Alakazam! (second performance).

West End street

6 to 10 p.m.: Circus Up! 

Along Main Street

6 to 9 p.m.: Starry Night.

6 to 9 p.m.: The Amazing Kam! Card Tricks.