By Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Special to the Gazette
Jamaica Plain has become an even livelier place to visit lately!
One reason is the extension of the very popular JP Centre/South Main Streets’ First Thursdays into a year-round event. The stroll has grown a great deal in the seven years since it began and it is a favorite evening out for thousands of residents. Recognizing the importance of the arts community, JP Centre/South launched the First Thursdays event to highlight the work of area artists. The goal was to combine art, music and shopping and to drive more foot traffic to the business district. These events encourage shopping locally and supporting local merchants. More than 35 businesses have participated by showcasing local artists in their stores and offices, with wonderful receptions open to the public. The exhibits are extremely well attended and create extra sales for the local shops.
The newest addition to the arts scene is the Jamaica Plain Music Festival, which held its second annual event on Sept. 8 at Pinebank Field next to Jamaica Pond. Jamaica Plain Centre/South Main Streets Executive Director Randace Moore, one of the event’s organizers, said this year’s event was be even bigger than last year, with more than 20 acts performing on two large stages. Last year 1,200 people attended this energetic showcase of local musicians.
The Hyde/Jackson Square neighborhood of Jamaica Plain also is bursting with activity, as is evident by the improvements to area businesses. This eight-block area represents an eclectic mixture of Spanish-speaking businesses and delights. And the City of Boston has long taken note and contributed to the growing vibrancy that attracts residents, shoppers, tourists and even the occasional celebrity. In the past year alone, there have been more than 11 businesses that have taken advantage of the City’s ReStore Boston storefront improvement program by making facade improvements to whole blocks of businesses, from restaurants and cafes, to travel agencies, to hair salons, and even a tattoo parlor. And the City’s investment continues, with new projects coming through the Hyde/Jackson Square Main Street program as well as through word of mouth. The City’s investment of over $100,000 this year alone has made Hyde/Jackson Square Boston’s Latin Quarter with an irresistible beat—an upbeat!
And things have been busy in Egleston Square this year as well, starting with the holiday celebrations that had residents caroling throughout the district and increasing the number of businesses participating in the “Deck the Windows” holiday decorating competition. The annual Hot Jazz, Cool Neighborhood event at Doyle’s is always a draw, with 180 residents, businesses and community leaders coming to support the district. Egleston Square’s Wake Up the Earth Parade was more successful than ever, attracting over 300 participants and creating a wonderful family-friendly event.
And with so many Hispanic entrepreneurs choosing Egleston Square for their businesses, Egleston Square Main Streets (ESMS) provided one-on-one bilingual technical assistance to over 65 merchants. In addition, ESMS’s monthly merchants’ meetings have offered trainings on a variety of topics, such as: marketing and promoting your business; energy efficiency and greening workshops; access to capital; beautification projects and so much more. This technical assistance to merchants results in an appealing shopping atmosphere for the local community, as well as visitors to the district. A new addition this year will be the Egleston Winter Farmers Market, opening in November. And ESMS’s Annual Meeting on Oct. 19 will be a chance to celebrate all these accomplishments.
Thank you for all that you do to make JP a wonderful and unique neighborhood in Boston. I hope to see you at one of these events this fall!