Haverhill cancels Memorial Day Parade

The city has canceled its in-person Memorial Day activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cancellations primarily affect the annual Memorial Day Parade and the ceremony at the conclusion of the parade at Linwood Cemetery.

Mayor James Fiorentini and Veterans Services Officer Amanda Buckley are working with local veterans groups to plan a remote celebration on Memorial Day, May 25, to honor servicemen and servicewoman who gave their lives for the nation's freedom.

"It is unfortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic does not allow us to come together as a community to honor our fallen heroes as we have traditionally done," Fiorentini said. "We must put the safety of the public first right now, but please keep our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers and please honor our American flag and those who defend it this Memorial Day."

As is tradition, veterans and volunteers will place American flags on the gravestones of deceased veterans prior to Memorial Day. Buckley is organizing the effort to decorate gravestones following social distancing guidelines. Anyone who would like to participate is asked to email her at abuckley@cityofhaverhill.com.

VFW Post 29 Junior Vice Commander Donald Jarvis encourages residents to do whatever they can to show their appreciation for veterans, including displaying flags and decorating their homes, doors and windows with homemade patriotic signs and messages from May 25 to July 4.

— Mike LaBella


Food pantry deluged with customers

The food pantry at Sacred Hearts Parish in Bradford served more customers than ever on a recent week.

Pantry manager Bill LaPierre said his volunteers served 125 families on May 4, 320 on May 6, and 152 on May 8.

"Thank God for our great volunteers," LaPierre posted on Facebook.

As the pantry prepares for another busy week, it is in dire need of cereal, snacks, boxed macaroni and cheese, paper goods, black and kidney beans, rice, juice, paper goods and disposable diapers, size 5 and 6.

LaPierre said he is not receiving enough food from the Boston Food Bank to keep up with the tremendous demand being experienced at a time when many people are out of work because of the coronavirus crisis.

Items can be dropped off at the food pantry Sunday to Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. (please knock on the door) or at Sacred Hearts Church in Bradford or St. Patrick's Church in Groveland on Saturdays and Sundays.

"I am pleading with you to help us take care of those in need,'' LaPierre said. "Thank you for your generosity and may God bless you and your families."

— Mike LaBella


Police investigate Haverhill shooting

Haverhill police are investigating a shooting that on Marble Street, according to Haverhill police spokesman Capt. Stephen Doherty.

A 911 call reporting shots fired came in last Monday at 10:22 p.m., Doherty said, and officers responded to the area of 1 Marble St. in the Mount Washington neighborhood, which is known for its street crime.

When officers arrived, they found that multiple shots had been fired and there was "minor damage" to 1 Marble St., Doherty said. No injuries were reported.

There were no immediate suspects, Doherty said.

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact Haverhill Police Detective James Cotreau at 978-373-1212, ext. 1573.

— Allison Corneau


Power outages hit Haverhill, region

National Grid reported a number of small power outages recently in Andover, Haverhill and in Lawrence.

According to National Grid's power outage map, an outage that was reported May 9 at 2:51 p.m. affected 701 customers in Lawrence's Pemberton Park/Canal Street area. Restoration is expected by 4:45 p.m.

Late the morning of the same day, 48 customers in Haverhill's East Broadway and Seven Sister Road area lost power, with restoration expected late that afternoon.

Also late the same morning, 37 customers in Andover's Chapman Avenue and Morton Street and 88 customers in the Central Street area lost power and restoration in both neighborhood's was expected by late afternoon. Other smaller outages were reported in Andover as well.

Six customers in Methuen's Currier Street neighborhood lost power early that afternoon and restoration was expected by late afternoon.

— Mike LaBella


Ruth's House thrift shop begins helping needy

Haverhill's Board of Health has designated Ruth's House an essential business, allowing it to begin serving people in need during the coronavirus crisis.

Although the thrift shop at 111 Lafayette Square remains closed to the public for the time being, the staff is scheduling appointments with qualifying clients who are being seen on an individual, socially-distanced basis to receive their usual quarterly clothing allotment.

Currently, Ruth's House is answering a plea from Casa Nueva Vida, a homeless shelter in Lawrence, for clothing for 45 children. Gift bags of new underwear and socks, gently used clothing and shoes as well as books, are being prepared to be sent to the shelter. Ruth's House is delivering the items this week.

Ruth's House is seeking donations of new or gently-used clothing. Please leave donations in front of the thrift shop's garage door, Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please ring the bell to alert staff who are in the shop.

To learn more about Ruth's House and its mission, visit ruthsthriftshop.com.

— Mike LaBella


NECC students present play virtually

The show must go on, so Northern Essex Community College's Top Notch Players recently presented a performance of David Lindsay Abaire’s “Rabbit Hole” the only way they could — by Zoom.

The performance lasted about two hours and opened with a speech by Brianne Beatrice, NECC theater professor.

The performance was recorded and will be made available to the public for free.

The cast has been rehearsing since February under the direction of Beatrice and NECC alumnus Benjamin Beveridge of Lawrence, assistant director. This is the first virtual production presented by NECC students in the history of the college. The actors performed from the safety of their homes.

“I know the cast is excited to share their work," Beatrice said. "While initially they rehearsed in the theater on campus, the pandemic forced the rehearsals online. They rose to the occasion and adapted quickly."

“Rabbit Hole” follows characters Becca and Howie Corbett, who have everything a family could want, until a life-shattering accident turns their world upside down and leaves the couple drifting perilously apart. The play charts their bittersweet search for comfort in the darkest of places and for a path that will lead them back into the light of day.

Beatrice can be contacted at bbeatrice@necc.mass.edu for the link to the recorded production after the live viewing. The link to the recorded production will also be shared on social media.

— Mike LaBella


Police: Man charged after carjacking, chase into Haverhill

A Lynn man who is accused of carjacking a Toyota SUV and kidnapping its owner in that city is facing local charges after leading police on a chase through Haverhill and other the Merrimack Valley communities, police said.

Calvin Ebieshuwa, 26, was arrested by Lawrence police and charged with reckless operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stop or yield and use of a motor vehicle without authority, according to a booking slip.

Ebieshuwa was booked May 6 at 11:26 p.m. at the Lawrence Police Department before he was turned over to officers from the Tewksbury Police Department, police said.

His alleged crimes took him from Lynn to Tewksbury and then a police chase followed to North Andover, Lawrence and finally Haverhill, according to police.

In addition to the Lawrence charges, Ebieshuwa will be summoned to Lynn District Court on charges of receiving a stolen motor vehicle, larceny of a motor vehicle, kidnapping and carjacking, said Lynn police Lt. Michael Kmiec.

Kmiec said that on May 6 at 8:20 p.m. Ebieshuwa forced his way into a Toyota Rav-4 on Walnut Street in Lynn and demanded the driver take him to Lawrence.

In Tewksbury, the driver got out of the Rav-4 and said he would take him no further, according to police.

Police say Ebieshuwa took off in the stolen car, while the driver reported the car stolen to Tewksbury police.

Tewksbury police put out an alert to area towns about the stolen SUV, according to police reports.

— Jill Harmacinski


Police: Local woman drove 109 mph during chase

A Plaistow woman was arrested after a high-speed highway chase, according to a statement from New Hampshire State Police.

Trooper Peter Sankowich said he was monitoring traffic on Route 101 near Exit 12 in Exeter May 8 at 12:30 a.m. when a silver Subaru Forester passed him at 93 mph. Sankowich said he caught up to the car, but by then it was traveling 109 mph near the Interstate 95 overpass.

The driver, identified by state police as Trista White, 35, of Plaistow, stopped near Exit 13 in Hampton, according to the police statement.

Sankowich said as he got out of his cruiser to speak with White, she took off, starting another pursuit.

According to state police, White reversed direction on Route 101 in Hampton and had “significant lane control issues.”

She reversed direction again at Exit 10 after driving on the wrong side of Newfields Road in Exeter and got back onto Route 101, state police said.

As the pursuit merged back onto the highway, additional troopers were able to deploy stop sticks and deflate the front driver’s side tire of White’s car.

The car came to a stop at Exit 12, according to state police, where White was taken into custody without further incident.

Officers from the Hampton and Exeter police departments also assisted with the call.

White was charged with aggravated DWI, reckless conduct, reckless operation and disobeying an officer. She was released on bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in Rockingham Superior Court on June 18.

Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact Sankowich at 603-223-4381 or peter.sankowich@dos.nh.gov.

— Breanna Edelstein


Crane Beach set to reopen

Crane Beach in Ipswich, popular with people across the region, was scheduled to begin reopening to the public on May 19, the Trustees of Reservations said.

The Ipswich beach is one of five trustees properties around the state that will be re-opened but at half-capacity and in a controlled manner, with parking passes available only online and in advance to prevent overcrowding, the organization said.

For the first two weeks, until June 2, passes will only be available to current Crane Beach parking permit holders and members of the trustees. Online reservations can be made now for those two groups.

Parking passes will be available to the general public for dates starting on June 3 on the same limited basis and online only. Online orders for parking for the general public began on May 13.

Face coverings are required for entry and staff will also wear them as well.

"Knowing how difficult it has been to get outside, get exercise, and connect with nature over the past weeks, The Trustees has worked tirelessly with local and state officials to safely expand access to our special places while balancing the need to slow the spread of COVID-19," said Aaron Gouveia, a spokesman for the organization, in a press release announcing the move.

Members and permit holders will be asked to enter their membership numbers when booking their reservations by visiting thetrustees.org/covid19, clicking on the “Get Parking Passes” button, and then choosing Crane Beach along with the date and time to reserve a pass, the group said. The passes are free for Crane parking permit holders and discounted at Crane Beach for all other trustees members.

Trustees staff will visually inspect tickets at the gate through the vehicle window from six feet away.

The organization will also place signs on nearby roads to inform visitors of the requirement for passes.

Castle Hill will remain closed.

 — Julie Manganis


Feast of the Three Saints canceled

The coronavirus threat has claimed yet another victim.

The Feast of the Three Saints, held every Labor Day weekend in Lawrence for nearly a century and popular with people across hew region, will not happen this year.

Michael Morley, president of the St. Alfio Society, which organizes the feast, said the iconic event has been canceled.

“We put the safety of the community first,” he said. “It was the right thing for us to do.”

The council of the St. Alfio Society met by Zoom recently and voted to cancel, he said.

“It was with a heavy heart for sure,” Morley said.

The feast typically draws thousands of people to Lawrence during Labor Day weekend. People with Lawrence roots have been known to travel from the other side of the country and to reconnect with friends and relatives at the feast, Morley said.

While the feast celebrates Italian pride, people of all ethnic backgrounds enjoy the food, music, revelry – and faith.

“It is about faith and family,” said Morley, who like so many current and former Lawrence residents has grown up with the feast. It has been a part of his life for about 60 years, he said.

This would have been the 97th Feast of the Three Saints, which honors the martyrdom of Saints Alfio, Filadelfo and Cirino, three young men who despite excruciating torture imposed by Roman authorities refused to renounce faith in Jesus Christ.

The feast was brought to Lawrence by the large numbers of Sicilian immigrants who came here to work in the textile mills roughly a century ago.

The celebration begins Friday evening of Labor Day weekend in front of City Hall on Common Street. The St. Alfio’s Band, led for many years by Salvatore Erna, plays the American and Italian national anthems. Then the parade, led by various dignitaries and members of the St. Alfio Society, marches along Common, Union, Garden and Newbury streets, which used to be the Italian neighborhood.

The feast continues through Saturday. On Sunday, the climax takes place as the statues of Alfio, Filadelfo and Cirino are brought out from their place of honor in the church. They are carried in a procession through the surrounding streets, amid a blizzard of green, white and red confetti.

Revelers attach money to the statues, often as an expression of gratitude for favors believed to have been brought about by the intercession of one of the saints.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Morley said.

Morley and other members of the St. Alfio Society have vowed this longtime Lawrence tradition will return.

“This is not the end — 2021 will be a great year,” Morley said, adding the 100th anniversary of the feast will be observed with “a grand celebration.''

— Paul Tennant


1918 duck cloth mask mirrors current reality

In 1918 – as now – men, women and children wore masks in public to seek protection from a pandemic.

At least one of those old masks remains, 70 years later. It was worn during the 1918 influenza by a young Lawrence millworker of Lithuanian heritage: Juze Shaukimiene.

The Lawrence woman made a gift of the duck cloth covering to Jonas Stundza, a fellow member of the Lithuanian American Council.

Stundza, 66, says Shaukimiene, told him that most everyone in Lawrence was wearing a mask during the deadly flu outbreak and that many people made their own — just like today.

The 1918 virus would eventually infect somewhere between a third and a half the world's populations, killing 50 million, about 675,000 of them Americans, including more than 600 Lawrencians.

In Boston, it took the lives of more than 100 people each day between Sept. 24 and Oct. 12 (many days the number approached 200 deaths), according to health records.

Shaukimiene, who was a religious person, died around 1989. Three years earlier, in 1986, when she gifted Stundza the mask, she also gave him a vintage water cup from a Lawrence mill.

As a little girl, in 1912, Shaukimiene worked in the Everett Mills during the Great Strike, known today as the Bread and Roses Strike.

Stundza gifted the 1918 mask to Lawrence History Center. It's a rarity, he says, being the only one he has ever scene.

He thinks it was made from cloth manufactured at the Lawrence Duck MIll.

— Terry Date


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