The Newton mayoral inauguration events kicked off Thursday with “Newton Gives,” bringing together several community organizations coordinated with the construction of a new community skating rink.
It will continue today with the formal inauguration of Setti Warren as Newton mayor. Gov. Deval Patrick was scheduled to attend.
“[Events like this] really show what Newton is about, community service and coming together,” Mayor-elect Warren said Thursday after the Newton Gives events. “If we’re to tackle the serious issues in front of us we have to be able to respect one another, work with one another, and assist one another.”
The main event was the completion of a new community skating rink at the Hyde Community Center, created and operated by the community. Even the snow couldn’t deter the project, which had been constructed for much of the last month.
“We’ve been talking about skating here at Newton for a while, and we thought there would be a way to put it at the Hyde,” said Janice Borque, president of the Newton Highlands Area Council “We thought we could do a test year and start a skating rink and see what enthusiasm there is.”
Borque said the program was organized entirely by the community at large.
“We’re trying to create a winter activity for our community that people can not participate in but also volunteer and help maintain, so this is all done by the community,” Borque said.
At approximately noon, the Newton Fire Department arrived, using their fire hose to spread the water that would freeze as the ice on the rink.
Though the day was originally devoted to the community rink, the event began to expand, growing to comprise several activities sponsored by local groups.
“We started out talking about the need for a skating rink,” said Warren. “That became the need to collect resources for those that are in need, and as the weeks and days, we started hearing from people.”
Alderman-elect John Rice said the expansion allowed more people to contribute and become involved.
“We realized a lot of people didn’t want to be out there hammering and weren’t carpenters,” Rice said. “We started with the idea of creating packages for soldiers in Afghanistan, so one group got involved, then another and all these things starting morphing together out of the one thing.”
Several organizations sent volunteers and set up booths, including Teen Reach, the Newton Highlands Area Council, Crystal Lake Conservation, among others. Activities included a book swap, a food drive, and a fundraiser for a high school service project in Panama.
“A lot of people wanted to be involved in this, to kickoff the new year and the start of a new administration.” Warren said. “We’re really seeing the best of Newton, people coming together from all walks of life, all different needs working to help one another.”
Joanna Vrouvlianis, a science teacher at Newton South High School says that the event is a classic example of Newton’s character.
"I grew up in this community, and it’s a big thing we’re taught growing up,” said Vrouvlianis. “The kids here may have a lot, but they are also taught to give a lot.”