In what might be Hometown Weekly's most extreme understatement of the still-young 21st century, we at the paper are confident in saying the last 365 days won't soon be forgotten.
With a world-stopping pandemic, contentious US presidential election, and demonstrations for racial equality dominating headlines around the globe, it won't be surprising if 2020 joins the likes of 1968, 1917, 1848 and 1789 as years historians consider especially momentous in the course of human history.
It's also no surprise that these big-picture stories reverberated at the local level as well, with even the most global of issues taking on the unique characters of these small towns we call home.
While we couldn't possibly fit everything we'd like, the following are some of the stories that made headlines in 2020.
Hometown communities wrangle with coronavirus
“Earlier this year,” reported Amelia Tarallo, “officials in the United States became aware of the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus in China. Knowing that it was inevitable that the virus would reach the United States, officials began creating plans and preparing for various scenarios to handle the illness. In the past few weeks, Hometown Weekly communities have found themselves preparing for the worst, with town officials trying to find the best possible ways to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Like other nearby towns, Medfield has stopped services, canceled town sanctioned events, and closed government buildings to keep people and employees healthy. To keep up to date with the situation, the Medfield Board of Health has created a website. The March 13 update included several tips to stay healthy, including one about social distancing: ‘Because COVID-19 can be transmitted from an infected person before they feel sick, ‘social distancing’ – that is, limiting close contact with others - is a very important strategy for slowing its spread through our community.’”
Schools closed through end of academic year
“Superintendent Jeffrey Marsden has announced that in accordance with a new order from Gov. Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Medfield Public Schools will remain closed through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hometown Weekly read.
“The statewide closure of schools, originally set to end on April 7 and previously extended to May 4, has been further extended through the end of the school year. The last day of school in Medfield is scheduled to be June 16.
“The extended closure of schools is an unprecedented step in limiting the potential spread of COVID-19 and continuing the practice of social distancing as more positive cases and deaths are announced in the state each day.”
Medfield sew for Australia’s animals
“There is very little that Medfield, Massachusetts has in common with Australia when it comes to climate this time of year,” wrote Amelia Tarallo. “As residents of Medfield put on their coats and gloves before they head out the door each day, Aussies are dressed in shorts and tank-tops. As Medfielders are shoveling out their driveways, Aussies are jumping into pools. Australians, though enjoying the warmer weather, are currently battling some of the worst wildfires they’ve ever seen. As a result, thousands of wild animals have been left defenseless and in need of a little help. Enter volunteers at the Medfield Library, who were happy to lend a little help for the first-ever Australian Wildlife Drive.
“Held across four sessions, volunteers helped cut fabric and sew some much-needed items. On Thursday, February 6, adults sewed marsupial pouches in the morning while teenagers sewed crate pads in the evening. During the adult session, volunteers formed an assembly line. A few took pre-cut fabric and stitched away at the sewing machine. Other volunteers, after being handed the pouches, made sure they could withstand the weight of a small marsupial without breaking, and cut off some extra thread on which the animals might try to chew.”
Medfield TV steps up during pandemic
“As the weeks of shutdowns and self-isolation go on, Medfield TV continues to serve the community, while providing them with additional programming and services to help them get through these difficult times,” reported Amelia Tarallo.
“While Medfield TV has made this transition seem easy, its staff is working harder than ever before. ‘We are a small local station covering the events that mean the world to you. It's so unique and is something no one else can offer. So at this time, Medfield TV is working double time, putting in extra effort and just generally being there to help people in any way we can,’ explains General Manager Brett Poirier.”
“With most of its staff working from home, leaving only one person in the office, Medfield TV’s efforts have proven the station's dedication to the town more than ever before. ‘I always say this to my staff: 'Sometimes you aren't judged on how you are when things go right. It's when things go bad and how you can adapt that defines you.' I think this has proven that Medfield has performed very well during this time, and Medfield TV is happy to be a part in that effort,’ says Poirier.”
Medfield responds to George Floyd’s murder
“On May 25, George Floyd was killed while being arrested by police for paying for cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the last week, communities in all 50 states have come together to protest racism and police brutality that resulted in the murder of George Floyd and many before him. Medfield was one the communities whose residents took it upon themselves to make it clear that there needs to be change, and that what happened to Floyd should never happen again,” reported Amelia Tarallo.
“On Sunday, June 7, starting at 3:00, residents of Medfield lined the streets, collecting on the normally empty lawn of Bank of America, outside Starbucks, and lining up alongside North Street. It’s a rare sight, typically reserved for holiday parades or Medfield Day. Almost everyone seemed to have a sign in their hands. Many stated ‘Black Lives Matter,’ while others noted the steps ‘Listen, learn, amplify, act,’ as a way to address racial injustice. Other signs pointed out the other victims of racial violence, including Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery. Some even contained easily readable statistics about racial violence in the United States.
At 4:00, attendees of the vigil marched to the Dale Street School, chanting "Black Lives Matter." Once there, attendees still lined up, stretched from the school all the way back to the town post office. Bells from the Unitarian Church rang out, signaling for protestors to take a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds - the time that Officer Chauvin had pressed his knee on George Floyd's neck. Amidst the silence, someone called out, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe," the same words George Floyd had said before he was killed.
Zullo Gallery hosts school show digitally
“While it’s easy to focus on how much kids are enjoying (and parents are not) their nearly three-month vacation from school, there are many special events they are missing out on. But while you’ve likely thought about graduation, prom and other events for high school seniors, the Medfield Public Schools Student-Faculty Art Exhibit was a victim of COVID social distancing protocols, as well,” reported James Kinneen.
“But rather than let what would be the 25th annual year of the event be cancelled completely, Zullo Gallery Executive Director Bill Pope and Medfield Schools’ Kate Jones (who also has a mixed media piece in the show) worked hard to move the event from the gallery to an online format. This was a lot of work for both, with Jones having to work with the teachers from all the schools to gather and photograph the pieces, and Pope having to learn an entirely new software to put a show online.
“Luckily, the show was supposed to be in April, so the teachers were reasonably far along in their preparations for what the show would have been.”
Shoe-In raises climate change awareness
“If you drove or walked by First Parish Church on Saturday, September 12, you would have been a bit thrown back by the sight. From 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., observers spotted rows and rows of shoes decorating the lawn and steps of First Parish,” reported Amelia Tarallo. “Though it may have been an odd sight for those passing by, the shoes did their job. The many pairs were placed there for a "shoe-in" demonstration to raise awareness of climate change. The event was sponsored by Medfield Environment Action (MEA) and First Parish Church.
“Many observers going by found themselves walking between the rows, reading some of the signs in the shoes, each one written on recycled advertisements and cardboard. Signs in a pair of cowboy boots sitting on the steps urged readers to ‘Give fossil fuel the boot,’ and ‘Wildfires, drought, heat wave, floods: it’s not Armageddon, it’s climate change.’”
“At the end of the event, most of the shoes were donated, keeping up with the idea to reuse and recycle items to reduce waste and to help take pressure off of the environment.
Hometown Weekly voters head to polls
“While record numbers of Bay Staters voted in the November 3 election by mail due to COVID-19, scores of voters still headed to the polls on Tuesday to vote in person at a wide variety of locations. But while every ballot had the same options printed on them, every town’s voting locales were a little bit different, whether due to the location itself or the people professing their beliefs outside,” reported James Kinneen.
“Medfield had only one place to vote: the Senior Center on Ice House Road. With only this one voting location, it wasn’t surprising that the outside of the polls had tons of people holding signs, although it was surprising to see that in an election where presidential politics took center stage, there was a notable amount of support for State Representative candidate Shawn Dooley.
“‘Yes, Medfield has always had one voting location,’ noted Assistant Town Clerk Marion Bonoldi. ‘The state is the one to determine if polling locations need to be added. Due to COVID and the large number of vote by mail or early voting, the number of voters voting at the actual polls on November 3 was manageable, and all safety precautions were followed.’”
Holiday Stroll brightens Medfield, despite pandemic
“Each year, residents and visitors flock to Medfield center to enjoy the annual Holiday Stroll,” wrote Amelia Tarallo. “Some of those taking part in the stroll typically enjoy a meal at some of the local eateries, while others get to work on their holiday shopping. Families make their way to Baxter Park, listen to some spirited carols, and watch as the trees in the park light up.
“This year’s COVID-19 restrictions forced organizers to come up with a new plan for this beloved tradition that would enable residents could celebrate from the safety of their own homes. Medfield TV, the Cultural Alliance of Medfield (CAM), and the Medfield Employers and Merchants Organization (MEMO) worked together to ensure the holiday tradition continued this year with the production of a special TV program.
“It is entirely fitting that this year's holiday season finds people working together in ways they never had before. The result of the pandemic-altered Holiday Stroll had Medfield residents enjoying a new twist on the event from their living rooms. Conditions will hopefully be back to normal next year, but no one will forget this year's unique, festive iteration of the annual Holiday Stroll.”