Community Spirit Awards Return, Watertown Youth Coalition Holds In-Person Celebration

Watertown Youth CoalitionThe Watertown Youth Peer Leaders pose with the staff from the Watertown Youth Coalition after the peer leaders received their awards at the 2022 Community Spirit Awards. For the first time since 2019, on June 8, the Watertown Youth Coalition along with Wayside Youth and Family Support Network hosted their yearly Community Spirit Awards ceremony and reception at Arsenal Park in Watertown. The event was put together by Watertown Youth Coalition (WYC) Peer Leadership Advisor, Zhane Goode, and WYC Program coordinator Stephanie Sunderland, who had to miss the ceremony due to unforeseen circumstances. Zhane, who has been working with all of the honored students for a few years, was very happy to finally be able to hold the awards in person and noted that the students were especially excited to get to celebrate together with their friends and family. For Zhane herself, she began her work at the WYC during the pandemic, so she said it was really nice to see everyone all together as a community. 

The event has not been held in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was attended by many members of the community, including the honorees, those who nominated them for spirit awards, and families, friends, and other Watertown citizens who came to celebrate their achievements.

Library Seeks Residents to Take Part in Watertown Collective Memory Project

The Watertown Free Public Library is launching a project called the Watertown Collective Memory Project and you can be a part of it! The Watertown Collective Memory Project (WCMP) is “a yearlong initiative to build a digital collection of stories and photographs from Watertown’s recent history, up to the present day, that captures the full breadth and diversity of our community,” as Local History Librarian Caroline Littlewood described it. Though the project is led by Littlewood and other members of the Watertown Free Public Library (WFPL), they are encouraging other local organizations to contribute and will be relying on volunteers to help run the project. The Historical Society of Watertown and Watertown Cable Access Television are both partners in the project as well. 

The WCMP first got started as part of a refurbishing of the WFPL’s digital history records and has since developed into a community-wide project to build a collaborative and accessible digital history of the town. For Littlewood especially, who started her position at the WFPL during the COVID-19 pandemic, this project has come to mean much more than uploading files.

Record Store in Watertown Square Has Drawn a Crowd in Its First Year

Anaïs MarkwoodA wide range of musical genres are available at Wanna Hear It. New and used albums are available

Calling all vinyl lovers, if you haven’t heard yet, Watertown is now home to a record store! Wanna Hear It Records opened during the COVID-19 pandemic in early December and has been operating a successful business ever since. 

Located right in Watertown Square at 7 Main St., Wanna Hear It sells records for a variety of interests. Many Watertown residents noticed a line around the block to get into the store on a few occasions throughout the summer, sparking curiosity about the new shop. Owner Joey Cahill described the store’s inventory as, “A mix of everything,” saying “our main focus is Indie Rock, Punk, Hardcore, Emo, some Top 40, hip hop [and] metal.” The shop also does record trading and has “about half and half new and used [records]”.

Local Dance Studio Survives the Challenges of the Pandemic, Uncertainty About Home at Watertown Mall

The Watertown Mall recently changed owners when Watertown Mall Associates Limited Partnership sold it for $130 million to Alexandria Real Estate Equities on April 21. Business owners in the mall spent much of the early summer wondering what the new changes would mean for them, including Maria Zullo, owner of Miss Maria’s School of Dance. Miss Maria’s School of Dance (MMDS) was founded 10 years ago in Watertown and has grown into a thriving local business. The studio was originally located on Waverley Avenue in the current location of Suzyn Day Spa, and has since moved three times, growing larger with each move. 

The first location had a single dance room, and after two years, MMSD expanded into a three dance room location on Main Street. In its eighth year of business, Zullo was able to secure a lease at the Watertown Mall in the location where the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) used to be.

Watertown Musicians Return to Serenading Visitors of the Watertown Library

Anaïs MarkwoodThe Watertonics play music and sign on the porch of Thomas Michel’s home, which overlooks the back parking lot of the Watertown Library. On Sunday he was joined by friend and soprano Maria Ferrante. This past Sunday saw the first Watertonics concert since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, an event welcomed by many Watertown residents.  

The Watertonics, self described by co-founder Thomas Michel as “Watertown’s leading front porch busking group” is a local music group who have been giving concerts from Michel’s front porch for a few years. 

The Watertonics’ front porch concerts began with Michel and his friend Ted Sharpe simply practicing together on Michel’s porch, which overlooks the back parking lot of the Watertown Free Public Library (WFPL). They noticed many library patrons stopping to listen to the music as they got in and out of their cars and decided to make it more official, naming themselves the Watertonics and establishing a weekly concert schedule of Sunday afternoons. . 

Michel and Sharpe met in graduate school at Duke University and have been playing music together for many years.

Shoppers, Vendors Happy to Be Back at Opening Day of Watertown Farmers Market

Anaïs MarkwoodShoppers returned to the Watertown Farmers Market at Saltonstall Park on June 16. The Watertown Farmers Market opened on Wednesday, June 16, with the white peaks of vendors’ tents once again lining Saltonstall Park. After having restrictions last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the market is now fully open once again, and has introduced a handful of new vendors for the 2021 season. 

Shoppers streamed back and forth around the outdoor market and queues even formed in front of some of the more popular vendors, including the stalls for Clear Flour Bread and Boston Smoked Fish Co. Everyone seemed excited to have the market fully open again, whether they be vendors, shoppers, volunteers, or the market manager, Stephanie Venizelos. 

While Venizelos described the 2020 season as “an exceptional year,” saying that the market actually saw an uptick in business as shoppers worked from home and tried to avoid supermarkets, she is hopeful for another successful year. “We love the park, we love the vendors, so we’re confident that the market will do well again this year,” Venizelos said.