Historian Wants City to Honor 'Citrus Wizard'
Lue Gim Gong, who left North Adams to become the 'Citrus Wizard.'
Local historian Paul Marino thinks it's about time the city recognized a one-time resident who, unwittingly, has helped the Drury High band raise money each fall. Not to mention revolutionizing the citrus industry.
"This is the time of year to order your oranges and citrus fruit from the Drury band," he told the City Council on Tuesday night. "The reason we're able to do that in December is because of Lue Gim Gong."
Lue was born near Canton (Guangzhou) around 1860 and arrived in North Adams as a boy with the contingent of Chinese brought in by Calvin T. Sampson to break the strike at his shoe mill in 1870. Importation of these 75 Chinese workers — and another 50 who arrived the following year — had national connotations for unions and immigration, resulting in part in legislation in the following decade that banned Chinese immigration.
But Lue's participation in the shoe mill isn't the reason Marino wants to honor him; it's what he did later.
Lue was one of the handful of Chinese still living in the city a few years after the strike. He was taken in by the Burlingame family, who lived at the corner of Summer and Church streets. Fanny Burlingame, a Sunday school teacher, nursed him back to health when he came down with a fever and helped him become a citizen in 1877. In 1886, Lue moved to Deland, Fla., to live with Burlingame's sister and brother-in-law and look after their orange groves.
He became a well-known horticulturist and one of his experiments resulted in a late-growing orange, known as the Lue Gim Gong Orange or Strain. It's still sold as a Valencia orange.
"He is the man who years later perfected the orange that ripens over the summer rather than over the spring and avoids the frost," said Marino. It's why we can order Florida oranges and grapefruit in December."
Lue's work has been recognized in DeLand — a bust of the "Citrus Wizard" was commemorated in 2000 and he appears on a county mural with his beloved rooster. But nothing in North Adams, which not only brought Lue to the East Coast but whose brutal winters sent him south to his destiny.
"He lived in North Adams for many years and we've never done anything to honor him," said Marino, who suggested renaming what's left of Summer Street, where Lue lived, for the horticulturist. "I think it would be great if we could rename that street."
North Adams Prepping For Holiday Season
City workers installed the main Christmas tree for the holiday season at Monument Square on Wednesday. The tree was donated by Joe and Martha Curro of Minor Road in Lanesborough.
|Tags: holiday, trees|
Fall Foliage Children's Parade Celebrates Heroes
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The downpour stopped long enough Friday evening to allow the Fall Foliage Children's Parade to march down Main Street in North Adams. The drizzle was enough to make the Drury High School band bow out.
But the children were real troopers, with 57 registered and walking in the parade. Once again the costumes were wonderful with lots of heroes (the festival's theme this year was "Our Heroes") including mothers, firefighters, teachers, police, astronauts, cowboys, chefs and more. Slider from the North Adams SteepleCats greeted the kids as they waited for the parade to start and marched with them.
A North Adams Police cruiser led the way and a pair of officers on bike patrol pulled up the rear. Rep. Daniel E. Bosley led the parade down Main Street as a small but very passionate crowd cheered on the kids as they marched to City Hall. Greeting the kids at City Hall was Mayor Richard Alcombright, Rod Bunt from the Mayor's Office of Tourism, Christine Hoyt from the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, City Councilor Lisa Blackmer and Sen. Benjamin B. Downing.
All participants received ribbons and were recognized for their spirit, creativity and coming out on a gloomy evening. Plus, trophies and gift certificates were awarded in various categories.
Thanks were offered to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts students and Pi Upsilon Omega sorority members Rebecca MCauley, Joanna Gillis, Melanie Callanan, Jessica Krason, Colleen Whalen, Anita Alvarez, Noal Fafard, Jaynelle Bellemore and Madison Hogan, and Kappa Delta Phi sorority members Jessica Fratus, Alyssa LaManna, Kasey Harrington, Sara Giovine, Shelby Ferriere and Emily Minns for their help in setting up, registration, judging and cleaning up at the end.
Children's Parade Winners
1st: Delaney Babcock
2nd: Brayden McKay
3rd: Ethan Daley
1st NAFD: Emily Feder and Taia Byers
2nd: The Chef and his lobster, friends Liliana Pisano and Dominick Pisano
1st: Teachers (including their class pet): Jackson Harnick, Danielle Harnick, Alyssa Russell, Ainsley Russell, Daphne Catelotti
2nd: Moms Hayden Gillooly, Julia Cellanna, Caroline Cellanna, Emma Polumbo, Josh Polumbo, Sarah Polumbo, Will McDonough, Ben McDonough
|Tags: Fall Foliage|
Fall Foliage Weekend Highlights
This year's Autumn Arts & Crafts Festival packed the sunny side of Main Street on Saturday; on the east end, the second annual ROPES Day included kids' games, a small car show and a Jack's Hot Dog Eating Contest.
The fair, a tiny event for years, was significantly expanded this year under volunteer coordinator Jennifer Barbeau. (It wouldn't have happened at all if Barbeau and her cadre of volunteers hadn't stepped in.) Some 78 vendors ranging from food to jewelry to arts to a wide range of crafts set up along the both sides of Main Street's eastbound lane.
Above, the local team claims victory in the hot dog eating contest. Top, the Drury High marching band at the Fall Foliage Parade. Left, visitors begin arriving at the craft fair early Saturday.
It was a 100 percent a success ... the vendors were thrilled," said Barbeau late Saturday afternoon as fair disbanded. "We're already looking for ways to improve this for next year."
With the exception of a handful, the participating merchants were happy with both the crowd that was attracted and the amoung of sales, the bulk of which came between 10 and 2. A lof those who attended were tourists, a good sign, said Barbeau, who noted that the fair was up against the well-established harvest and craft fairs at Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge and Hildene in Manchester, Vt.
"There were visitors from everywhere," said Helene Armet of Babycakes. "I'd do it again."
In fact, more than a few vendors stopped on their way out to compliment Barbeau, who operates two businesses out of her home when she isn't organizing craft fairs. With no budget, Barbeau got out the word with social media, signs everywhere and appearances on local radio. A stint on the "Opinion Show" on WNAW prompted a rash of calls from interested vendors. The fair will return next year and a survey will be sent to vendors to find out what worked and what could be improved.
Batman and Superman wave from a parade float.
The afternoon was supplemented by ROPES Family Fun Day, a fundraiser for the North Adams Police-sponsored summer camp (Respecting Other People Encouraging Self-Esteem) that puts kids through a ropes course to building team spirit and self-esteem. The day began with a pancake breakfast at the VFW and a 60-mile motorcycle run.
"It was a good pace and everyone had a good time," said Officer Erik Thomas, an organizer of the event with Lt. David Sacco, who added, "There was great participation all around."
Both said they hoped to grow the car and motorcycle show, which still had a better turnout than last year's wet day. The doughnut eating contest was cancelled this year for lack of participants but they hope to revive it next year.
The dog eating contest went on — but without the Ephs, who got spanked by MCLA 88-62 last year. Williams cancelled Friday night but the townies stepped up to defeat champs MCLA by 70-54. The dogs were donated by Jack's Hot Dogs owner Jeff Levanos again and, this year, everything stayed down, said Sacco.
The ROPES organizers and Barbeau worked closely the last few weeks but Barbeau is hoping to integrate both events better for next year.
Also on Saturday was the first Dog Day of Fall Parade. Sunday, of course, was parade day with thousands lining Curran Highway, State Street and Main Street to watch the bands, floats, politicians and Shriners go by.
Look for photos Monday from the Friday's Children's Parade, the Fall Foliage Parade and the Dog Day of Fall Parade.
|Tags: Fall Foliage|
Scenes from the Downtown Celebration
It's a wing ding at the annual Boston Sea Foods chicken barbeque.
Commissioner Morocco gets caught giving his boss Mayor Alcombright a surprise dunking.
The skies were gloomy but the rain seemed to be holding off.