The first inclusive multi-cultural festival in Waterbury history - The Gathering - was held in 2013, and was so successful, that it will now become an annual event, the next one being tomorrow, May 17th, from 11 am to 8 pm in downtown Waterbury. Pictured above are Brazilian samba dancers marching in the 2013 parade.

                                  Column and Photographs By John Murray

    There was one moment during The Gathering last year that will stick in my memory until my last breath. The moment was wrapped in anticipation, anxiety and exhaustion. A small group of volunteers and city employees had been planning the festival for months; recruiting ethnic groups, plotting parade routes, and dealing with insurance, electricity, and details we didn’t even know existed. When May 18th arrived we were unsure of what we had created. There were more than 40 cultural groups signed up to share their music, food and dance, but were they going to show up?

                                              By John Murray

   Mrs. Mario Generali, and her son, Ed Generali, peek over at the Reverand Ronald Ferraro last night during an awards dinner for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Waterbury at La Bella Vista. The late Mario Generali was being honored for his 45 year-dedication to the Boys Club. Ed and his mother were looking at Reverend Ferraro after Ed announced that Ferraro had attended his parent's wedding as an alter boy. 

                                              By John Murray

   Members of the Crosby High School LifeSmarts team won the Connecticut State Championship and will compete this weekend for the national championship in Florida. Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary acknowledged the accomplishment by treating the kids to a pizza party inside City Hall, and then asked them to participate in a flag raising ceremony to kick-off "The Gathering", a city-wide celebration of cultural heritage which will be held in downtown Waterbury on May 17th. Waterbury residents have found their way to the city from every corner of the globe, and The Gathering is an opportunity for city residents to share the traditions of music, food and dance from their homelands. Last year 40 ethnic groups participated in the festival, and flags from each country was displayed in front of City Hall.

                                      Column By John Murray

   One year after being released from federal prison John Rowland walked into my home in Morris to begin a year-long book project. The three-term former governor of Connecticut had once been considered a presidential candidate, and now, humbled by a ten-month “government sponsored sabbatical”, he was a different man. He still possessed his wicked sense of humor, but the entourage was gone, and he limped from an old wrestling injury.

Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary with a portion of the Rose Hill property looming in the background. The property, which O'Leary is interested in having the city purchase, includes several acres overlooking downtown Waterbury, a renovated historic mansion, a school and a gymnasium.

                                              By John Murray

   Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary spent the first 10 months in office focused intensely on trying to help facilitate the merger of St. Mary's Hospital and Waterbury Hospital into a new privately funded $500 million new state-of-the-art hospital built in downtown Waterbury. O'Leary, his economic development team, and Governor Dan Malloy, came within a whisker of pulling off the project, which ultimately collapsed over a clash about women's reproductive rights.

A passionate man, Rod Dixon implored students at North End Middle School in Waterbury to fully participate in the Kid's Marathon program, and to bring the message of activity and health back into their homes.

                                                By John Murray

   Long-distance running legend, Rod Dixon, of New Zealand, was back in Waterbury Thursday morning to help kick-off the second year of his Kid’s Marathon running program in the city. Dixon won the bronze medal in the 1500 meter run at the 1972 Olympics, was a World Champion cross-country runner, and the winner of the 1983 NYC Marathon. Now 63, Dixon has dedicated his life to bringing his passion of running and healthy living to elementary and middle school students in California and Connecticut. In time, Dixon hopes his Kid’s Marathon program spreads across America.

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