Greenway “Winter Lights” Turns to Plight

Greenway at Night - December 2012

At a time of year when nearly every park and public place is bursting with decorative cheer, only a scrooge’s spirit would be lifted with the desolate bareness of the Greenway parks.

In the North End, the “Winter Lights” program sponsored by the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy (RFKGC) has seemingly been abandoned. A last-minute installation of lighted disco balls were inexplicably removed after about one day. Remnant wires and electrical boxes are the only signs of the failed presentation.

A member of the burgeoning Friends of the North End Parks writes:

I don’t know what happened to make them decide to take down the disco balls but it’s another waste of money. They could have installed the same lights from years past and we could have something more than wires and electrical boxes to enjoy. The North End gets nothing from the Conservancy as usual. Happy New Year.

People close to the situation tell us that the popular 2-year old solar-powered hanging ornaments on the pergola went missing or were damaged in storage since last year.

Conservancy Staff, City officials and North End residents gathered for the annual tree lighting of the Great Elm tree.

The series of seasonal disappointments started at the delayed “Northern Lights” event featuring the tree lighting of the Great Elm tree. Fewer than a dozen residents showed up for the promised “ornament making” and “bell ringing by the North End Music & Performing Arts Center.”

“Northern Lights” event table with Panera cartons, crayons and a folder of paper in the pitch black park.

A folding table in the pitch black empty park was set up with two Panera beverage containers, a box of crayons and a folder of paper.

It was too cold and dark to make ornaments with crayons and the bell ringing kids were a no-show. We were told that a family member of NEMPAC, the bell ringing group, had a heart attack. Fortunately, a check-in later with the group revealed there was no illness or emergency. Instead, NEMPAC staff said that no one from the Greenway Conservancy even bothered to contact them about the event.

Electrical wiring on pergola for failed Winter Lights.

Although we did not know it at the time, it was about a week later that RFKGC Executive Director Nancy Brennan submitted her resignation.

New Year’s 2013 starts off the year with no First Night activities or ice sculptures on the Greenway. Despite having lights, the Great Elm tree is often remains dark at night. The darkness may be emblematic of the future of the Greenway Conservancy, a leaderless organization with an uncertain future.

The following photo gallery shows other parks in and around the North End / Waterfront with their holiday decorations and winter lights.

Photos by Matt Conti, unless otherwise noted.

8 Replies to “Greenway “Winter Lights” Turns to Plight

  1. After they got through paying the year-end bonuses and the ordinaryhigh pay to the Greenway’s top executives, they discovered the money cupboard was bare and the electric bill was due. Maybe you can find those disco lamps on e-Bay.

  2. Matt , thanks for keeping us in the loop. Lack of lights is very disappointing. Happy New Year anyway!


  3. I actually saw guys installing the lights, so they were there at least for a while.

    This must be a final kiss goodby to the North End from Nancy Brennan.


  4. The Conservancy responds! Not directly, but a blog post was published January 3rd on the Greenway Conservancy website with a status update of the winter lights program … There are no comments allowed on their blog, so I will add this here.

    The Conservancy attributes the general limited displays to a “fairly small budget.” I suppose they are excluding the $3 million custom carousel project.

    Specifically in the North End, a disco ball fell from the pergola in a December 21st storm so they removed them all. Ok, that’s understandable. That was also 3 weeks ago.

    Today, 2 days after the article above, the Conservancy had a crew reinstall the disco balls in the single degree frigid weather. I would walk under them at your own risk!

    Ironically, a poll we started today, currently at 75 votes, shows disco balls as the last choice that readers would choose for a winter display (lower ranked than even nothing!). You can vote in the poll here:

    1. So now we’ve got frozen disco-balls hanging from a naked pergola stark in all their nude transparency, upon the tattered tundra that is burnished brakish from noon sun to full-moon-luminate, a gift from the “fairly small budget(ed)” Greenway Conservacy. A fitting winter solstice for OUR mediocre median way, in ALL its brutal banality; finality! End of year, end of budget. What perfection in its timing, now for Friendly voices, and groups ALL in the surround of these not so green acres to start anew, fresh; away from the public trough and the struggling DOT beneath.

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