Boys & Girls Club has Worcester Police on the run

From the Heart of the Commonwealth to the nation’s capital, 13 Worcester Police officers (sometimes 14) and one sheriff’s deputy will be lacing up their running shoes to jog 460 miles together over the course of four days, with a single, unified goal: to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester’s track and field program.

Beginning May 9, city law enforcement officers — led by WPD gang unit Officer Brian Piskator and vice squad Officer Nathan Reando — will run about 10 to 12 miles a day starting at City Hall and arriving at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., on May 13. Sunday, May 14, kicks off National Police Week.

The route from Worcester to Washington, D.C., is being scouted by map right now, but a “driving recon” will be done by car before May 9, according to Piskator.

“The way it looks like right now it will be 10 to 15 miles per day for each runner. However, that’s going to be dependent on injury and condition. If one person goes down the first day and rolls their ankle, that’s going to bump everyone else up to 16 or 17 miles a day,” he said.

Valentino’s has ambitious plans for heart of Shrewsbury Street

By taking the best of what Restaurant Row has to offer — including an iconic location — and adding the charm of an Italian coffee bar, a new, family-owned, cafe-style “grab-and-go” restaurant is aiming to attract a distinct Shrewsbury Street demographic:

Everyone.

Valentino’s Press and Pour, which plans to open in May at 154 Shrewsbury St. (the former long-time home of dessert and coffee bar Cafe Dolce), will feature a full bar and cafe, lottery, tobacco products, and a variety of to-go items including coffee, ready-made sandwiches and desserts.

“This street is still growing and there’s nothing that caters to the masses,” said Joe Stake, a partner who will manage the restaurant and tend bar. “You have to go to different places if you want different things. The street is very segmented.

“So we’re trying to offer all of it under one roof.”

Courtesy Valentino's

Valentino’s plans an upscale and upbeat vibe … with scratch tickets and Bloody Mary’s too.

Stake’s cousin, Luke DeWolfe, bought the building in 2015. He renovated the attached three-decker and originally planned only to be a landlord for the cafe space. Now he’s staring down a mid-May soft opening of his own restaurant, with a full-scale grand opening planned for some time in June.

No more pencils, no more books? Pen in a Box supplies needy schools

David Byun noticed that he and his fellow students at Holy Name were too quick to throw away usable school supplies — pens, notebooks and other items less fortunate kids would be happy to have. So he started an organization a couple of years ago, and it’s grown way beyond Worcester.

Nick Duffy, Grafton Hill free spirit, self-published author, ‘real-world’ skeptic

“It’s a high aspiration, I understand that. But I can fathom it. My goal is to reach a universal audience.” Patrick Sargent stops being polite and starts getting real with a Worcester up-and-comer.

Area artist molds a new career, city narrative with Mugged in Worcester

Worcester coffee drinkers and ceramic enthusiasts, beware.

You’re about to be mugged.

Mugged in Worcester, a ceramics company specializing in handmade, creative coffee mugs and beer steins, is making its mark across the city with Worcester-themed artwork showcasing landmarks like Union Station, Bancroft Tower and George’s Coney Island.

“If you’re willing to take a step out and and take in the surroundings, you might fall in love with this city,” said Jonathan Hansen, artist and owner of Mugged in Worcester, when describing what inspired him to create art reflecting Worcester’s history and people.

Hansen’s mugs also celebrate memories of iconic locations like the Miss Worcester Diner, Spag’s, Ralph’s Diner, Kelley Square, Paris Cinema and Hotel Vernon.

“Worcester is the first place I’ve lived that I had a connection to, ever. That was really the push for me — let’s get this city up and coming and try to promote it a little more,” Hansen said. “That’s really the basis of where this whole thing started for me.”

The “whole thing” started in 2014, stemming from his personal connection with Worcester and an interest in, of all things, Tiki mugs.

Youth baseball official frustrated by city’s tag days stance

With funding for youth sports leagues becoming increasingly difficult to come by in some corners of the city, Nick D’Andrea, secretary/treasurer for East Side Babe Ruth, remains disappointed in the city’s apparent disinterest in regulating the practice of “tag days,” which used to generate thousands of dollars per season for his and similar organizations.

“They keep kicking that can down the road,” said D’Andrea, who brought the issue before City Council last April with support from first-term Councilor-at-large Khrystian King.

Sun archives: King brings tag days debate back before council

City spokesman John Hill said safety and legal concerns prevent the city from condoning or supporting so-called tag days, when local organizations, such as youth sports teams, would apply for permits from the city and stand at intersections to solicit donations from motorists. For example, many remember the firefighters’ Boot Drive for Multiple Sclerosis.

“At the council’s request last April, the city manager asked the law department to investigate the idea of reinstating the Tag Day ordinance, which has been repealed upon implementation of the city’s panhandling ordinances in 2013,” Hill wrote in an email statement to the Sun.

“The law department recommended not implementing a new Tag Day ordinance for two reasons: first, because of the risks to persons and property arising out of Tag Day events; and, second, because it would place the city in the untenable legal position of requiring a permit for an activity which constitutionally requires no permit.”

Filmmakers hope to whip up fundraising frenzy for Major Taylor biopic ‘Black Cyclone’

Running from Foster to Highland streets through the heart of downtown Worcester — and never more than a few blocks away from the infamous incline of George Street — is Major Taylor Boulevard.

The bustling thoroughfare is named after Marshall “Major” Taylor, a pioneering athlete who trained to become the first black world champion cyclist in 1899 by repeatedly sprinting the steep 500 feet between Main and Harvard streets. The second world-champion black athlete, after boxer George Dixon, Taylor’s grueling workout inspired an annual fundraising event at George Street that continues with its 15th edition in July.

The American sprint champion in 1900 and one-time holder of seven world records, Taylor retired in 1910 at 32 years old, fell on hard times and died destitute at 53 in a Chicago hospital, his legacy all but forgotten already.

Locally, the Major Taylor Association has attended to that legacy with events, including the George Street Challenge, not to mention a downtown monument, for the man known as “The Worcester Whirlwind” and “The Black Cyclone.” A number of books have been written, as well, but many feel his impactful life deserves more attention

In an effort to shed more light on Taylor’s heroics on a national level, a group from Beverly Hills, California — including producer Rashid Bahati, author John Howard and script writer Rob Walker — have come together to create a feature film, “The Black Cyclone.”

ABA basketball hopes to drop Anchors in Worcester

The New England Anchors are a first-year ABA basketball team with strong prospects on the court, and significant connections to the city off of it. But whether the team will make it to next year, and make its home here, are — much like the opening tip-off — matters decidedly up in the air.

Cosmopolitan Club endures ever-changing landscape

The Cosmo is always looking for its next generation of regulars, which makes it a perfect fit for our Survivor Series showcasing Worcester small businesses standing the test of time.

At the crest of Hamilton Street’s rolling, mile-and-a-half span in the heart of Grafton Hill sits The Cosmopolitan Club, a neighborhood bar burrowed at the base of one of the area’s many three-decker homes.

From its beginning as a single two-lane dirt road, Hamilton Street and the surrounding area has undergone a number of transformations to accommodate travelers and neighbors alike as far back as the mid-1920s and as recently as last summer.

The one constant for the better part of a century has been “The Cosmo,” as it’s affectionately known by its regulars, which opened in 1935 as the post-Prohibition era poured into full swing.

In its 82 years of existence, the club has witnessed the wide lanes of Hamilton street in the heyday of the city’s trolley cars, and the subsequent addition of  “passing lanes” in the 1940s to replace the trolley tracks as automobiles became more affordable and kicked trolley service to the curb.

Courtesy George Cocaine Collection, Worcester Historical Museum

The Cosmo looked pretty much the same back in the black-and-white days (photo taken June 24, 1949).

“Up until recently, Hamilton Street was, like, a four-lane highway with cars speeding up and down. Now they’ve slowed it down and reconfigured it making it more neighborhood friendly,” Cosmopolitan Club owner Matthew O’Mara said, referring to last summer’s addition of bike paths narrowing of Hamilton Street to one lane on each side.

“The city is going to do a nice greenscape in the spring with trees and grass,” O’Mara said. “So you know things are going the right way. Hopefully, things continue in the uptrend.”

The Cosmo, it seems, is a place where many things begin trending upward.

More Survivor Series

On the road to big things, with singer Dezi Garcia

We are living in a digital world, and Dezi Garcia is an analog guy.

Or at least that’s what the young Grafton Hill crooner wants people to hear when they listen to the six songs on the album he released to iTunes Jan. 27: “Analog Mind in a Digital World”.

“Ultimately, an analog mind is an ‘outcast’ way of thinking,” Garcia said. “It’s like an introvert [who] realizes the complexity of his or her mind and steers away from mainstream thinking.”

While you wrap your head around Garcia’s free-thinking singer-songwriter perspective, consider the mind-numbing gauntlet that lies between the St. Peter-Marian graduate and the sold-out stadium tour dreamt of by most musical up-and-comers.

A little outside-the-box thinking might not hurt, after all.

After more than two years of writing, it took Garcia, 22, about another year to record and produce 18 minutes of music for the EP.

Matthew Wright / mattwrightphoto.com

Garcia recently released his second album.

And now he’s searching for an agent and/or manager to help him book more gigs outside of Worcester and begin to boost his profile as he aims for a summer tour that spans the East Coast. You won’t get much argument about Garcia’s talent, but settling on the best way to leverage that ability into a sizable audience — that’s not so cut and dried.