Menino says leaving office is ‘bittersweet’ but Walsh will take it to the next level

In an emotional ceremony at City Hall this morning, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said goodbye to the office where he has worked for 20 years.

Dozens of staff and long-time friends sang a rousing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” They wore T-shirts that read, “Grazie Mille” (a thousand thanks in Italian) on the front, and “Team Menino” on the back.

Then, one by one, they exchanged hugs and and posed for pictures.

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The office was bare except for several books that Menino, the city’s first Italian-American mayor, was leaving behind about the Irish — and a letter left on the desk for the Irish-American Martin J. Walsh, who is being inaugurated today as the new mayor.

“Executive decree, let’s dissolve all commissions and committees,” Menino said, chortling. Then he looked at his watch and grumbled something about his plane being canceled. “What kind of operation are they running over there?” he said, nodding his head out the window toward Logan International Airport in East Boston.

He declined to say where he was traveling.

Some of the commemorative clocks the mayor had accumulated, gifts from visiting dignitaries, were on display behind the desk of his receptionist.

Asked what happened to the rest of the mayor’s many trinkets, Angela Menino threw up her arms in exasperation and said, “Twenty years — we have so many things. “

When it was time for Menino to leave, someone asked in jest if he wanted a glass of wine. Joking, he answered, “No, I’ll take a straight Scotch.”

Then he stepped into his black Chevy Tahoe hybrid with a final wave and rode off.

Earlier, at his Hyde Park home, Menino had acknowledged that the end of his tenure was “bittersweet” but said incoming mayor Martin J. Walsh was poised to bring the city to “the next level.”

“I’ve had a great 20 years,” he said. “The people of Boston have been great to me over those 20 years. I just hope I’ve served them well”

He said he would miss touring the neighborhoods and talking with residents most of all.

“That’s the strength of our city,” he said. “People have a lot of pride in their neighborhoods.”