For Walsh, Boston College makes perfect sense as inaugural venue
By Bill Forry, special to the BIR, January 2, 2014
On January 6, Marty Walsh will be sworn in as Boston’s 54th mayor — and the first from Dorchester in more than a half-century. He’ll take the oath and give his first mayoral address in front of a few thousand of his closest friends and admirers — including Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who’ll perform at the 10 a.m. ceremony.
Walsh’s choice of venue for the historic occasion is Conte Forum, the Boston College sports arena that can accommodate up to 8,000 spectators. When the news broke last month, there was some push-back from members of the Twittering class that the university is too remote from downtown, with some erroneously claiming that the Forum is located in Newton. In fact, the arena is laid out entirely on the Boston side of BC’s sprawling campus.
Walsh, 46, is a 2010 graduate of BC’s Woods College of Advancing Studies, and the fact of his diploma will make him the first mayor of Boston to hold an undergraduate degree from the 150-year-old Jesuit university (Maurice Tobin, a mayor from the late 1930s and early 1940s, took classes there, but never earned a degree; Kevin White was a BC Law School graduate).
Recently, Walsh told the Reporter that his affection for his alma mater was a factor in his decision, adding that more practical considerations made The Heights his top choice.
“We looked at a lot of other places,” he said, “but we have 6,000 volunteers and I want to be fully inclusive. This is the first first inaugural in 20 years. The TD Garden was booked that day because of the figure skating championship,” Walsh said, “so I looked at my alma mater. BC won’t be back from vacation yet, so there’ll be plenty of parking and it’s accessible to public transportation on the Green Line. BC has been very accommodating; it will raise their profile, too.”
Jack Dunn, a spokesman for BC, said this last that Conte is “an ideal venue” because of its capacity and location. The Forum “has hosted many civic events over the years, including military deployment ceremonies, community breakfasts, the Mayor’s Cup Ice Hockey tournament, high school commencements (Brighton and Newton North high schools),” he said, “as well as academic conferences and cultural offerings that are open to the public.”
As to area colleges and universities, Dunn said, “Boston College is the leader in providing direct outreach and support to the Boston Public Schools and to the archdiocesan schools located within the city. BC students regularly volunteer in the schools and social service organizations, providing an estimated 550,000 hours of volunteer community service each year.”
The Monday morning (10 a.m.) swearing-in — which will be administered by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland — will be a ticketed event, although there will be no fee. Kate Norton, a spokesperson for Walsh, said this week that the campaign was still working out the final details of how tickets would be issued to the general public. A significant number will be distributed via printed invitations, she said. More details are likely to be published first on a newly-minted website, bostoninaugural2014.org.
Following the inaugural events at BC, an evening celebration will be held at the Hynes Convention Center on Boylston Street. Tickets, at $35 per, will be available for purchase for that event, which will feature “a broad spectrum of entertainment from local artists, musicians, comedians, and other performers,” said Norton. The run-up to the inauguration will include a weekend-long series of volunteer events — such as serving meals to the homeless and painting school buildings — in each city neighborhood beginning on Fri., Jan. 3. Walsh will host a youth summit geared toward students in grades six through nine at Roxbury Community College on Saturday. On Sunday, he’ll convene a brunch for seniors in the morning at Northeastern University’s Cabot Athletic Center. Following the brunch, he will attend an interfaith service, hosted by Reverend Jeffrey Brown, at the Old South Church.