Merrimack River Current

A poster child for peaceful Lions
Friday, October 29, 2004

Children can't be protected from the reality that the world is not peaceful. They're growing up in an environment of fear for their very security, while being exposed to the terrible things perpetrated in the name of war. That gives special meaning to the Lions Club poster contest them, "Give Peace a Chance."

The Newburyport Lions are participating in the International Lions Clubs' peace poster contest held each spring. They're soliciting contestants by distributing flyers to Nock Middle School students, where grade 6, 7 and 8 kids are eligible to compete with poster creations. Submissions should be brought to the school office by Nov. 6. The local winner will receive a $50 savings bond and their poster will go on to the Lions state district office for judging.

Winning national entries will receive $2,500 and a free trip to New York City, where their checks will be presented at the United Nations Building. Twenty-three merit award winners will receive $500 each and the free trip to The Big Apple.

For information, visit or call Kathy Heywood, Lions Club event chairwoman, at 978-462-4760.

All hail All Hallows Afternoon

Halloween has earned a place among the country's tackiest holidays; even referring to the occasion as a holiday doesn't ring true. All Hallows Eve has come a long way since Leave-It-To-Beaver days -when costumes were homemade, blissfully ignorant of the need to keep tykes safe from wayward motorists or flaming jack o' lanterns. Needles in apples, poison-laced candy, vulnerable children traipsing through the darkened suburban landscape. It's enough to make you ask if there's any purpose in promoting this annual worry fest for parents.

In Newburyport, there actually is some redeeming value in marking the date, and it's been that way for nearly a half a generation, since the late City Councilor Harold Harnch organized the first parade for local kids on the Sunday before Halloween. For years, the annual Harold Harnch Halloween Parade has brought out the best in the city's businesses, politicians, organizations and citizens, not to mention some of the cutest kids you're likely to see in one place. When Harold passed away about seven years ago, one of his staunchest admirers, Joe Spaulding, took up the cause, and to this day, has been actively soliciting donations of all kinds to keep the parade tradition alive.

His efforts will be rewarded again this weekend. Spaulding is anticipating a big donation from Newburyport Bank, free custodial service from the Bresnahan School, police officers kicking in traffic control and similar donations of services from nearly everyone connected to the city.

The parade this year will coincide with Halloween and will start at Atkinson Common at 2 p.m. Without benefit of formation or practice, some 200 kids accompanied by adults who never will outgrow the fun of it, will travel down busy High Street, where heads of passing motorists will turn to witness the spectacle. At the Bresnahan School, parade participants will receive safe goodies donated by those generous supporters, but the children will take home more than sweet treats and prizes. They'll accumulate the kind of childhood memories that neither money nor 21st century wizardry can produce.

Preceded by a most Dexterous occasion

Any city, town or bend in the road worth its salt can lay claim to having been the place where someone of significance made an appearance, and Newburyport has its share of such notoriety. While we might not be able to say he slept here, George Washington did pay a visit to the city in 1789. The occasion will be marked with an "appearance" of the good general and country's first president Saturday, Oct. 30, 215 years to the day since his other visit.

Washington's modern personification will appear at 3:33 p.m. in the library Children's Room, after the assembled have been acclimated to 18th-century mannerisms by Newburyport's own - quirky Lord Timothy Dexter, or a reasonable facsimile of him - at 3 p.m. The two will no doubt attract a fair share of attention, dressed in ruffled shirts, distinct hats and knee pants, as they head down State Street to Middle Street and on to the Old South Church on Federal Street. That's where the first Washington addressed an ecumenical session in early evening, Oct. 30, 1789.

Preceded by a horror-filled night

We've long speculated about what makes Current columnist Bruce Menin tick, and our worst suspicions have been confirmed; he likes scarey movies. Tonight (Friday, Oct. 29) he has the honor of being the first local film lover to introduce the Firehouse's latest mark of creativity, the My Favorite Movie Series.

Before the lights go out and we grip the arm rests between our seats, he'll explain what he finds so enchanting about two film classics that make our skin crawl: "Dracula" and "Frankenstein." Without benefit of Technicolor, these 1931 flicks were the ancestors of today's special effect-laden suspense movies. The double feature begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Firehouse box office.

Next up, a movie that flies in the face of Newburyport's Audubon education center and the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. Larry Nile will sing the artistic virtues of his favorite film, Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," before it airs Wednesday Nov. 10.

(This article replicated online with permission of the Merrimack River Current.)
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