City Celebrates 120th Anniversary
By Jonathan Bissonnette
CENTRAL FALLS - The city celebrated 120 years of history Thursday during the 2015 Founder's Day Celebration.
Residents, educators, students, and city officials packed into the council chambers at city Hall to hear presentations from Central Falls High School social studies teacher Bob Scappini and Mayor James Diossa, before departing on a guided bus tour that brought them to some of the historic landmarks throughout the Square-Mile City.
Scappini prior to his presentation Thursday afternoon said that Central Falls encompasses "the whole world in one square mile."
A 25 year teacher, Scappini's discussion included an overview of the history of the city, its strength in manufacturing, and its role as a gateway city for a vibrant immigrant community.
"In the old days, local history was passed down from generation to generation at dinners and gatherings," Scappini said. However, recently that passage of history has been "sidetracked," as "hard times have kind of pushed it aside."
"The fact that we"re still here and functioning is very, very important," Scappini said. "It's a message that the people of Central Falls can endure any hardship."
Scappini ultimately hoped that the people gathered Thursday Afternoon would take the information from the presentation and the overall celebration and bring it home with them, sharing what they learned with others.
The city's rich history was on full display, as Scappini noted inventors, engineers, doctors, governors, and Supreme Court justices who at one point in time called the square-mile city their home.
The guided bus tour through Central Falls included stops on Roosevelt Avenue, which Scappini noted was formerly known as Factory Street, but became known by its current name in recognition of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal.
Stops along the route also included notable mills and homes of historical dignitaries.
Scappini, during his presentation, noted how excited he was to talk about the history of "one of the most vibrant communities in Rhode Island."
"Central Falls is a powerful community with deep roots, and it is strong and resilient," Scappini said, Later adding that the city is "special because of the people and their resiliency."
Diossa, in his remarks, called Scappini "Truly a gem of the city." He also celebrated how great the city has been and will continue to be.
"Central Falls continues to be a place where people work and achieve the American dream," Diossa said, adding that there is a sense of pride and tangible energy" within the city.
Central Falls has "bounced back from a troubled past, with Diossa specifically pointing out the outlook of the rating for the city's general obligation bonds, which recently was upgraded from "stable;e" to "positive." reaffirming the city's BB rating.
Diossa not only discussed the past but aspirations for the future. The mayor pointed out that while Central Falls is operating with only three percent green space, he is hopeful to increase that amount.
On display during Thursdays celebration was a rendering of Illinois Park, which will be constructed at the intersection of Illinois and Hunt streets. City officials on Thursday said ground for that park is expected to be broken sometime this year.
A cake provided in honor of the city's birthday, and those in attendance sang "Happy Birthday" to Central Falls before the cake was cut and slices were distributed.
Additionally, guests were quizzed on various subjects brought up during Scappini's presentation, with those answering questions entering their names into a raffle to win gift certificates to a number of local businesses. The interactive quiz was presented by the Mayor's Youth Council.
Read the full article in the Friday, March 20, 2015 edition of 'The Times'