By Frank Mand
PLYMOUTH – It was a kind of cultural Halloween. Just a week after trick or treaters had ravaged the area, a second horde – this one comprised of state and local officials – went door to door in downtown Plymouth last week requesting not tricks but treats of information.
If you were from these parts you’d probably have recognized most of the characters that got on the trolley. The focus, though, was on one person – Massachusetts Cultural Commission Executive Director Anita Walker. Walker was the one that most of those on the trolley wanted to impress, convince, cajole, befriend.
Walker’s impressions of Plymouth could be critical in determining whether a large portion of the downtown area will become the state’s 27th cultural district.
This was the final walk-through, a chance for Walker and her staff to see what Plymouth has to offer and, more importantly, learn how welcoming businesses and cultural organizations located within the designated area are to the cultural district idea.
After meeting at the Chamber of Commerce, the group set out on a whirlwind tour of the proposed district, hoping to visit 28 locations in two hours.
They boarded a trolley and first visited Ellen Johnson, owner of Daisy Riley’s in Village Landing. Johnson is a champion of the “shop local” movement in town, and her boutique store offers hand-picked merchandise, crafts and jewelry from local artisans.
Capt. John Boats, established in 1946, was the next stop, and before boarding one of owner Bob Avila’s tour boats (he averages 1,000 customers a day, Avila said), the MCC staff was drawn to the edge of Town Wharf, where a lobster boat with catch had just tied up.
A short walk away Michael Carr, of Plymouth Bay Winery, employing well-rehearsed anecdotes, plied the visitors with samples of his ware, most of which utilize locally grown native fruits and berries.
The Mayflower II, Harbor Light Pavilion and Brewster Gardens were on the agenda, but time was already becoming an issue so those areas were simply acknowledged. Plymouth Rock was added to the agenda, however, as Walker had never actually seen that Plymouth icon up close and personal. And Walker also got the annotated version of the history of the Rock, with allusions to Elder Faunce – the man who saved the rock – and explanations for its size (it’s been broken, chipped and subdivided several times).
Rock lore and much more colorful commentary was provided by Destination Plymouth Executive Director Paul Cripps, who served as a kind of de facto tour guide, riding up front and regaling Walker with insights gained from his many years in Plymouth, which include work as an interpreter at Plimoth Plantation.
From the waterfront the group took the trolley to Summer Street, where it made quick visits to Plimoth Grist Mill, Jenney Museum and the Sparrow House.
Present on behalf of the town were state Senator-elect Rep. Vinny deMacedo, Selectmen Chairman Ken Tavares, Assistant Town Manager Michael Galla and Hartmann.
Representing the Plymouth Bay Cultural District Committee were co-chairmen Monica Mullin and Debra Woodman, Pecoraro, Plymouth 400 Project Coordinator Sheila Fey, Plymouth Philharmonic Executive Director Kim Corben, Janet Young of Plimoth Plantation and Mike Landers of Project Arts.
By Frank Mand