Boston to Host National Main Streets Conference

Mayor Martin Walsh and a consortium of administration officials converged on Hyde Square Monday afternoon for the annual Mayor on Main Trolley Tour – with the mayor breaking the news that the national Main Streets conference will come to Boston in 2021.

“We were talking about bringing the national Main Streets conference to Boston with several people in the neighborhoods and I took that back to my office, and we agreed to go for it,” he told neighbors and business leaders gathered on the sidewalk in front of the iconic Brendan Behan Pub. “I’m proud to announce that we have been awarded the 2021 National Main Streets Conference here in Boston. That’s pretty exciting. It’s a way to highlight businesses throughout our neighborhoods to the entire country.”

SUMMER ON CENTRE: Mayor Martin Walsh and Councilor Michael Flaherty greeted Metasbya, Lensa and Abyenezer Sheko during the Mayor on Main Trolley Tour that stopped on Centre Street for the Hyde/Jackson Square Main Streets awards on Monday, July 22. The children are off from school and helping their mother, Firehiwot Zeleke, who owns and operates the Ethiopian Café in Hyde Square.

The trolley tour is not in its third year, after the mayor and his staff decided to stop having the annual Main Streets awards in the Strand Theatre in Dorchester – instead opting to go mobile and visit several districts in person to give out the awards.

“We felt it was a good ceremony at the Strand, but no one was getting out and seeing the actual Main Streets and the neighborhoods,” he shared. “This was a way for us and the community to get out to the business districts, see what’s going on there and buy some things from the businesses.”

Jamaica Plain has three Main Streets Districts (Hyde/Jackson, Centre/South and Egleston Square), but the host for Monday’s trolley tour was the Hyde/Jackson Main Streets – which gave out two awards to those in the district.

Mayor Walsh shared that he was so impressed with the changes in Hyde/Jackson. He said he actually manned a campaign office for former Mayoral Candidate Bill Brett when he ran against the late Mayor Tom Menino a few decades ago. He said he was in the office late one night and ran across the street to a store, but was stopped in his tracks when he encountered a brawl right in the middle of Centre Street.

That sort of thing was a rather common in those days, but Walsh pointed out that it had become something of the past.

“Main Streets came here and you don’t see that stuff,” he said. “You can really see businesses can change a community working with the neighborhood and the civic associations. That’s what happened here.”

For the awards, Hyde/Jackson Executive Director Gerald Robbins announced the business award went to the Brendan Behan Pub, and the volunteer of the year award went to Rich Parritz – who has spent the last several years volunteering to enliven the district with plantings and greenery.

“We are here to support and recognize our businesses and to bring positive attention to our volunteers,” he said.

The Behan Pub has been in its location since the 1970s, and has become a constant supporter of the district and its neighboring businesses.

“I’m here to speak for the owner (Michel Soltani), but for us it’s a great honor to be recognized by the Main Streets, and we’re happy to be a part of all that they do,” said General Manager Michelle Flynn.

The Mayor on Main trolley tour will come to Egleston Square on Tuesday, July 30, to honor businesses and volunteers from the Egleston Square Main Streets district and the Centre/South Main Streets District.

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