Broadway's Holiday Debut Lights up City
They came to this country from El Salvador in 2000 and saved enough to open their versatile Latin variety store, naming it after their son, Leonardo. Like their tamales, chimichangas, and Goya rice, they have seamlessly assimilated into the neighborhood.
“There was no culture shock when we came,” said Juan Campos. “We just formally became members of the merchants association, and it has been very good so far. Little by little, we become more a part of it.”
Since the four-year construction project to renew Broadway started, the Campos family – like most Broadway merchants – has experienced ups and downs. But they face it as one.
“We have been taking care of each other. There are restaurants here and if they don’t have rice or tomatoes [for their dishes], they come to my store. I am meeting them one by one,” Juan continued. “We cannot complain, because all the hard work is going to pay off and [the street] is looking more beautiful every day.”
That beauty has come to the fore during December with a new holiday tradition launched by the Broadway Merchants Association and the City of Newport. More than a dozen freshly cut and decorated trees, lighted lampposts, music, and other activities will soon brighten the area even more.
Thirty-three Broadway businesses are presently offering tickets for a holiday raffle. Anyone spending more than $25 at participating merchants is immediately entered to win the grand prize: $600 in gift certificates and merchandise from these businesses, with two other runners-up receiving $200 in prizes.
The winner will be drawn on the evening of Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. on the steps of City Hall near the city’s 25- foot tree.
Earlier that day, Christopher Carbone will lead carolers up and down the street. Anyone is welcome to join the group, which will assemble at the Colony House steps at 3:30 p.m. Donna and Jack Maytum will be waiting at the opposite end of Broadway with a post-serenade warm-up reception for the singers at the Firehouse Theater.
Also on the 15th, Thompson Middle School students and teachers – Broadway residents themselves – will bedeck the trees en masse with decorations they made.
“Thompson Middle School is a big part of Broadway and what better way to get kids and families involved in the street’s first-ever Christmas celebration?” said Norey Cullen of Norey’s Restaurant on Broadway. She spurred the lineup of trees from a similar display she saw on Nantucket. The trees – placed in various wells along the street – came from Portsmouth’s Thurston Farm.
Bike Newport will be sponsoring a Jingle Bike event where, through sheer pedal power, riders can light up a tree through a 10-speed hooked up to a generator.
“I am so happy to see the merchants coming together to celebrate Broadway. It’s also great that the city is participating as a member of the merchants association and decorating the light posts and tree on the lawn in front of City Hall,” said Second Ward Councilor Lynn Ceglie, who was instrumental in the coordinated effort. “There is so much enthusiasm. We’ve come a long way in a year when everyone was so anxious about the construction. Broadway is now a destination year-round, but this holiday season feels extra special.”
“The city has been wonderful in getting the lights up and paying for them. We have had numerous meetings on the reconstruction of Broadway with City Manager Joe Nicholson and other city workers who have been great in trying to get the street done and ready for Christmas,” added Cullen. “It has been a real team effort.”
She also echoed Campos’ thoughts of like-minded unity. “The restaurants and shops have gotten to know each other through this project and I just love that. We truly care about Broadway and we want the street to come to life with positive effort. It’s the new waterfront without the water.
“This project has truly been life changing for many who knew it back when,” said Cullen, who has lived in the city her entire life.
City officials concurred.
“Everyone should drive down Broadway this holiday season to see the new lampposts lit up. The city is so happy to be part of Broadway’s holiday debut,” said a proud Ceglie. “Thanks to Joe Nicholson, [Director of Public Services] Bill Riccio and his crew for their efforts.”
The Christmas festivities follow the first-ever Broadway Street Fair that was held in October, which may become an annual tradition.
“Due to the success of this year’s street fair and the great support from the city, the merchants and volunteers, plans are underway for the next street fair on Columbus Day weekend, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017,” said Lynne Tungett, publisher of Newport This Week, who worked with other Broadway merchants in putting together the fall event.