Talk of the Times: Downtown merchants readying for annual bazaar

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photoO'Maley Innovation Middle School students paint a mural on storm drains on the school's property for Seaside Sustainability's Drain smART project. 

Many of Gloucester’s downtown businesses are getting ready to hit the street next week.

The 61st annual Sidewalk Bazaar is scheduled for next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday — Aug. 1, 2 and 3. That means the merchants of Gloucester’s Main Street and its side streets will be offering merchandise along the sidewalk, extending bargains inside their shops, or both, said Joe Ciolino, who owns and operates The Weathervane gift shop at 153 Main and serves as director of the Gloucester Downtown Association.

“We’re promoting it as a quarter-mile of bargains,” Ciolino said of the annual event, which runs along Main from its intersection with Pleasant and Duncan streets through the West End to Washington Street.

Aside from the sales promotions, the bazaar features a number of booths and tables touting nonprofits and other groups, music and other live entertainment throughout its three-day run, and a variety of presentations for adults and kids alike. Those include a bounce house and a mini-train that makes the rounds of the festive Main Street landscape.

The bazaar will run each of the three days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

“It’s like Christmas in July, only this is always the first week of August,” Ciolino said. “It’s very festive, and it certainly generates good will, but it also generates business. The idea is to offer bargains and to draw people downtown, and we’re hoping again that it does that.

“It’s always been a shopping event,” he said, “but it also gives people who might not have come down here lately a chance to come see our downtown as it appears now. And I think it looks beautiful.”

A new ambulance

The city of Gloucester is looking to proudly show off its new vehicle Tuesday.

The Fire Department will showcase its newly arrived ambulance with a gathering of several officials planned for 10 a.m. at the city’s fire headquarters at 8 School St.

The event — open to the public — will include remarks from Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante and state Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, and a representative for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It will also include city councilors and representatives from the U.S. Senate offices of Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey.

The ambulance is replacing “an old, worn vehicle,” said fire Chief Eric Smith, and was purchased through one of two Assistance to Firefighters Grants the city received last year from FEMA. The grants, totaling $500,000, covered the majority of the cost, with the city responsible for $46,000.

“We’re incredibly thankful that the importance of our ambulance equipment was recognized by FEMA last fall,” Smith said. “This new vehicle, coupled with automatic stretcher loading systems, is a great improvement for patient and crew safety as we respond to medical and emergency calls around the city.”

‘Drain smART’

It’s not unusual for students in the Gloucester public schools to be involved in a painting project. Among other things, Gloucester schools have a number of strong artistic and building programs.

But one carried out at the O’Maley Innovation Middle School on Thursday and Friday was a bit outside the box, thanks in large part to the nonprofit group Seaside Sustainability, the Gloucester Clean City Commission and the Gloucester Education Foundation.

The students bring “new life to existing Gloucester storm drains” by painting them, said Eric Magers, who heads Seaside Sustainability and is a member of the Clean City Commission.

The effort was titled Project Drain smART, with the emphasis divided between art and environmental science.

“All storm drains lead to the ocean,” Magers said. “(That’s) why students ... are painting storm drains to raise awareness and encourage members of the community to keep pollution off the streets and out of the oceans.”

The murals are being painted by rising sixth-graders who are starting at the middle school this fall. They are painting oceanic, sustainability-themed art, with messages such as “only rain down the drain.”

“The Gloucester Education Foundation is so pleased to be part of this great program,” said the foundation’s Christina Raimo. “It teaches our students about an environmentally important issue and gives them a way to act on it and help educate their community about the importance of keeping storm drains clear of debris.”

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