The Boston Pops: the Hot Ticket in Town
By Bella Caggiano
The weather was forecasted for high humidity, but the shade on the Norwood Town Common and the light summer breezes meant for cooler temperatures but a hot concert!
The Boston Pops Orchestra helped Norwood celebrate its 150th Anniversary with a somewhat ‘private’ performance for Norwood residents. It was a site like no other in Town. A few days before the June 26 concert, Summer on Central was transformed into a giant stage (some trees even needed to be trimmed to accommodate), and the buzz grew. On that tropical afternoon, the entire Norwood Common was filled with excited concertgoers on chairs and blankets anxiously awaiting this once in a lifetime event; the audience even spilled onto closed Washington St. The concert was also simulcast on a big screen at Norwood High School for those without tickets or wanted relief from the heat.
The event went off without a hitch. Keith Lockhart and his Boston Pops put on a tremendous two-hour show for the locals with some classical, a little swing, and ended with their traditional Americana medley and the infamous 1812 Overture. Two scenes made this day even more special; when highly admired Norwood High School’s former Director of Fine Arts Paul Alberta took the stage to conduct a musical number and Norwood’s own Kyle Leonard was honored to play two songs with the renowned orchestra.
According to Norwood Police Chief William Brooks, it is estimated that 4,000-5000 residents were able to take in this special performance.
“The town only had 6500 tickets, and I think that the warm weather kept some people away,” Chief Brooks said.
This impressive event would not have been possible without countless local volunteers, Norwood municipalities, and many local and state organizations who worked together to ensure the safety and comfort of all who attended.
“We began planning security as soon as we learned that the concert was likely,” Chief Brooks said. “Lieut. David Benton headed up operations for us, and I think he did an outstanding job. Much of the success was in the planning and preparation, but then a lot also on the execution of the plan.
But there are so many others for Norwood to extend their gratitude.
In addition to Lieut. Benton, I want to thank the police department employees who worked, as well as the other town departments who worked so closely with us. We could not have done it without them. For instance, we wanted to stage heavy trucks on the streets leading into the concert venue. we did that in such a way that there were literally no motor vehicles within the event perimeter. Obviously, those trucks and drivers were provided by DPW. We were also assisted by other police departments, some that could be seen and some that could not. Plainclothes detectives of the NORPAC Task Force were in the crowd watching for suspicious activity. Bomb detection dogs from the state police and Quincy police swept the area just prior to the concert, and remained on scene throughout most of the afternoon. The Metropolitan Law Enforcement Counsil provided a command post, as well as a tactical element. Again, most people probably never saw that element, but the command post was parked in front of St. Catherine’s church. With permission from Norwood Airport, we periodically flew a drone with a camera over the area, and could also use the camera on the mast in the command post to give us a look at the tops of the buildings throughout the center. We believe that all of these elements, layered on top of one another, provided a safe venue without causing any anxiety among the concertgoers.
While Norwood residents began hearing rumors about the event only a month or so before, according to Assistant Town Manager Michael Rosen, this spectacular project was seven months in the making.
“It was a lot of legwork to make is a successful day,” Rosen said. “It was a lot of work but worth it.”
The idea was formed from a generous donor, DCD Automotive Holdings, in Norwood, ($143,000), with the intention of bringing the Pops to Norwood. With this start-up capital, a committee was formed, more donations solicitated, and many, many meetings were held. Rosen created a ‘dream team,’ consisting of a cross section of the Concerts Committee, the 150th Anniversary Committee, and a vital cog in the process, private citizen Jonathan Cardoni. Cardoni, now retired, shared his extensive experience in event planning with Liberty Mutual.
“His credibility was excellent and he helped us map out the logistics for the day,” Rosen said. “ From road closures, to capacity, to businesses impacted. He and I became attached at the hip, up to and including the day of the show.”
In addition to the efforts of Rosen, Cardoni, and the many Norwood municipalities and state resources, there were 105 volunteers at the event that made this a day for all to remember. Donations were also necessary for this to all happen, and in addition to DCD Automotive, the 150th Anniversary Committee gave $25,000, David Spiegel, of CMI Properties with $30,000, Simoni offered $25,000, and countless others from local corporations to private citizens. In total, orchestra and productions costs of $280,000, were covered strictly by these contributions
Chief Brooks has been in a uniform for over 45 years and has been involved in many group events, but none like the Boston Pops visit.
“I have not experienced anything quite like this in all my years in policing,” Chief Brooks said. “By the same token, when I was with the Wellesley Police Department I participated in the policing of 13 Boston Marathons. In that case, the venue was much larger but spread out among the eight municipalities along the route. What made the Pops concert different was there was no playbook, as this had never been done before.”