The first day of the new Mountain Park was baking hot, but that didn't discourage the enthusiasm for Eric Suher's newest venue. The free Saturday show was an instant hit with the crowd. Between acts he announced he would like to have free shows every week. Was that a promise?
It didn't feel like a concert at all. At least not the type I'm use to. It sorta felt like a class reunion. A few people got wild near the stage, but were quickly led away by the police. Check out in the valley for the unbridled exuberance.
Holyokers were out in force. I saw lot's of friends, and we talked the day away. Everyone was wondering what the attendance numbers were. Max Hartshorne thought it at least Three thousand if not Five. The Mt. Tom Billy Goat asked Eric what the numbers were when he walked by us. Eric said he a good idea, but wouldn't elaborate.
People were coming and going all day. As it got dark the families with little ones started to leave, and yet more people were still arriving. The final act was great. I'd never heard them before, so was pleasantly surprised when they started to play. I remember thinking: "Why aren't more people here?".
Before I left I snapped a candid one of the man who can't be photographed. He seemed too happy to care. I'm amazed he didn't throw me out at first sight.
The former home of Hello Holyoke, 188 Chestnut Street, went up in flames early this morning. The call came over the scanner after 2:00 AM, "a fire in the vicinity Appleton and Chestnut Streets". The police arrived first and reported the back porch was burning at 188 Chestnut. They quickly attempted an evacuation of the house, but couldn't venture to the 3rd floor because of the smoke.
It appeared everyone made it out safely when I arrived. The scene was mostly white smoke with a hint flames. The fire dept was running hoses inside the house, and venting heat from the outside.
The fire looked to be under control, and I was getting ready to leave when the smoke got dark and ugly. Suddenly the Firemen were evacuating the building. Within a few short minutes the fire flared out of control. You could feel the heat on your face. It was familiar sensation that brought back memories of other fires.
As soon as I saw the black smoke I started recording video. The siren blast you hear is a signal to evacuate the structure.
When I walked around the block again to look down the back alley some man in a vintage red English roadster was in the parking lot of the SEC school. He must of mistook me for a reporter as he made the insinuation that they (Fire Dept) let it burn. I assured him that it simply got out of control, but he nodded knowingly, and said they wanted it to burn. Again I assured him telling him I had it all on video, but he just waved, and drove off. For some reason this behavior really irked me.
After another walk around the block I was feeling very sleepy, it was 4:00 AM. I said bye to Jeff and Tim, and headed back to my car. On the way I ran into School Committee member Barry Conway of all people. He was driving by and asked me where the fire was. It had become both foggy, and smoky. You couldn't tell where the fire was in the neighborhood but for the water rushing down the street carrying bits of flotsam, and jetsam with it.
I didn't know who Barry was at first, I never met him before, but boy can the guy talk. When he introduced himself to me I said "Hey! Your that guy who didn't get enough signatures". Since he talked me ear off, I gave him a hard time about his papers. It was a fair trade, and he took it with good spirits.
The fire was still burning when I finally left. It's probably a total loss. What a shame. It was such a beautiful old Victorian.