Category Archives: Beacon Hill

Decorating Days in Beacon Hill

Photos: Ivy A. Turner

By Irina Grechko

Fifteen years after a small group of Charles Street business owners decided to decorate the streets for the holidays,  Holiday Decorating Days in Beacon Hill has grown into an annual event that adorns every  lamp post in the neighborhood. This year’s two-day event attracted its biggest crowd — more than 100 people.

“A local floral designer showed us this design of wrapping a laurel around the pole and hanging the bows,” said Ivy A. Turner, who has organized the event since 2000.

Initially, the Beacon Hill Business Association championed the holiday event and the Beacon Hill Civic Association joined in later asthe main sponsors t and to help get more residents involved. Suzanne Besser,  BHCA executive director,  said that her group focuses on bringing people together to improve the quality of life on Beacon Hill.

“We do a lot to foster community experience and build a whole relationship between everyone. This [Holiday Decorating Days] is probably one of the biggest community events because it brings us all together. It makes a Beacon Hill a better neighborhood to live in if you all get together and do things like that. It’s community building,” she said.

Holiday Decorating Days expanded from Charles Street to adorning of lamp posts on Charles and Cambridge streets, and eventually came to decorate every single street on the Hill.

“In 1999, I got the idea that for the millennium, we would have once in a lifetime event. We would decorate every single lamp pole in Beacon Hill for special millennium celebration,” Turner said.

It was a difficult, slow task as every group had only one Sunday, to cut the laurels, put the wires on and then decorate each post.  While planning the decoration of every lamp as a once in a lifetime event, feedback from residents was so positive that after 2000, Holiday Decorating Days became an annual event.

The current version came together when volunteers had the idea to make it a two-day event.

“He [volunteer] said, if we found a place where we could cut the stuff the day before, we could have this big event where we could get the stuff ready and the next day it would be a lot easier. And then someone got the idea that if we had a van we could drive it around to people to make it manageable. And then the Otis House Museum got involved and said they would host this event,” Turner said.

With enough headquarters and space, on Saturday, volunteers cut and wire the laurel garlands, sort and package the bows into smaller bundles. A van then drives around to deliver supplies to block captains, who are responsible for either one block or the whole street.

Sunday, the decorating continues, with volunteers assigned to different groups and streets, until every single lamp post is adorned with a laurel garland and two red bows.

This year’s crowds got Turner in the spirit of the season.

“Today’s event was really our best ever. It was the biggest turnout, the most enthusiastic people and the hardest working. It was a total different feeling than past years. This year, volunteers came and planned to stay and work a lot. They came prepared to work for a whole day.” she said.

In addition to a large participation from the local residents and members of the Beacon Hill Civic Association, an unexpectedly large number of Suffolk University students, members of the Beacon Hill Young Professionals and volunteers from Boston Cares.

Jay Faro, a Beacon Hill resident, said this year was his ninth time as a volunteer to the Holiday Decorating Days event.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a great way to meet people. Volunteers from the hill come down and we all work together and so people that maybe I don’t see from one end of the year to the next, I get a chance to see them today. And I get to meet new people,” he said.

Turner said friendships form and at least four marriages have resulted among people who have met on decorating days.  One reason she said she loves this event is  the sense of community and tradition.

“ I think tradition is important. And I think it’s something people look forward to and it makes people feel more part of their community. And I think when you walk around a neighborhood and every single lamp is decorated, there is a different feeling when you know that you helped,” Turner said.


Leave a comment

Filed under Beacon Hill, Holidays, Shopping

Holiday Shopping holds steady on Beacon Hill

By Talia Ralph and Katie Shustari

Many local shops in Beacon Hill report that holiday traffic in the area is holding steady from last year. “People are buying pretty much the same amount as they were last year,” said Virgil Aiello, the owner of DeLuca’s market on Charles Street. “But then again, last year was a pretty slow year.”

For a snapshot of some of the local businesses in Beacon Hill, see the slideshow below.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beacon Hill

Paramount: A Beacon Hill Tradition

By Irina Grechko

Paramount slideshow

For a restaurant that’s been around since before World War II, The Paramount in Beacon Hill sure doesn’t show its age. Even after 72 years in business, on weekend mornings there are still lines of customers waiting to eat at 44 Charles St.

Although it might look like just another eatery to the untrained eye, the constant flow of customers means the red wooden doors are never closed too long at this Beacon Hill favorite.

Michael Conlon, co-owner of The Paramount and a Beacon Hill bar, The 21st Amendment, said that the secret to Paramount’s popularity is an unusual approach to serving all of your day’s meals.

“I think the concept is breakfast, lunch and dinner. Early in the morning there’s not a lot of breakfast place around here and I think it’s become almost an institution to go out and get breakfast,” Conlon said.

As you enter, morning or afternoon, a variety of smells welcomes you into a simple yet stylish diner-style room, decorated with black-and-white photographs. A big sign explains that patrons must line up to order and pay for their food — and only then find a table.

“Wondering Why?” the sign explains, “We quickly learned that due to the high volume of customers and limited seats, saving a table disrupts the delicate balance of people to tables. Therefore, not saving a table ensures all customers (yes, you too), will have a table when needed.”

Conlon said this line system allows the restaurant to accommodate the 500 to 600 customers that they receive on weekend mornings and afternoons.

“You got to order; and order before you take the seat. It’s very important that everyone does that because if everyone does that, there are always tables. ”

It’s all about the system, he said.

He is so confident in the system that The Paramount offers to buy customers breakfast or lunch if they find no place to sit upon receiving their food. When asked if that happens often, Conlon looks puzzled. He stops the staff walking and asks, “Do you know of anyone who had to wait to get a table after getting food?”

One woman looks just as puzzled, answering “Not that I know of. We never had a situation where someone had to wait.”

Conlon looks satisfied with the answer, “We ask people to believe in our system and if there is no table the least we can do is buy them breakfast.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Beacon Hill