July 30th, 2011
Weather-wise, this was one of the nicest Folk Festival days I recall. Not a cloud in the sky and the warmth of the sun was tempered by a cooling breeze. It was crowded and most folks seemed to congregate at the respective stages. All that I visited were crowded (Bill Kirchen above and the Quebe Sisters below) and as soon as an act was done, there would be a mass migration towards another stage. The ethnic food booths all seemed to be doing a good business with the Filipino and Polish booths having the longest lines. The forecast is for more excellent weather tomorrow. See you at the Festival.
July 30th, 2011
My writing colleague Jack McDonough, an occasional contributor to this blog, would say this about last night: “Rain failed to dampen the spirits” of the festival-goers as the 25th annual Lowell Folk Festival rolled through downtown with its cargo of bright music, savory foods, hand-shaped craft objects, bins of joy, and nonstop parade of every kind of person you would want to meet. The opening ceremony featured a big shout-out to the late Chrysandra “Sandy” Walter, the National Park Superintendent whose idea it was in 1986 to produce a big folk festival on the stage set of brick and cobblestone in the historic district. Sandy rounded up the local help and delivered the first folk festival in 1987. Lowell artist Bill Giavis presented a portrait of Sandy and her friend Pat Crane to current Supt. Michael Creasey for the permanent art collection of the Lowell Park. I was charged with introducing the founding leaders of the festival, and will post my full remarks here later for the record.
Reports of infectious elation from the Dance Pavilion on Dutton Street flowed in to the booth attendants at Boarding House Park as the Quebe Sisters on stage harmonized in Texa-billy tones and Dervish pumped up the Irish volume. I don’t know if being at the 25th festival influenced my focus of attention, but I saw and met an inordinate number of people who were veteran volunteers or attendees. There was a reunion atmosphere last night. Former National Park staff members returning to the fold, food booth workers whose roots go back to the Zenny Sperounis ethnic shindigs at Lucy Larcom Park, and repeat attendees from the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s. There was a rain-burst just after 9 p.m. that thinned out the crowd, but plenty of people stuck around until closing.
Look for our blogging colleague Nancye Tuttle’s article about opening night in the morning SUN. Her sidebar on the Sandy Walter remembrance includes an image of Bill Giavis’ painting. All weather signs are positive for today’s show. We’ll see you on the streets.
July 30th, 2011
History.com reminds us that on this day – July 30, 1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare – a healthcare insurance plan for elder Americans – into law. The signing ceremony took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. At the bill-signing ceremony, Johnson enrolled former President Harry S. Truman -who proposed national health insurance back in 1945 – as the first Medicare beneficiary and presented him with the first Medicare card and his wife Bess with the second.
The Medicare program, providing hospital and medical insurance for Americans age 65 or older, was signed into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. Some 19 million people enrolled in Medicare when it went into effect in 1966. In 1972, eligibility for the program was extended to Americans under 65 with certain disabilities and people of all ages with permanent kidney disease requiring dialysis or transplant. In December 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), which added outpatient prescription drug benefits to Medicare.
Read the full article here at history.com and learn more here at Wikipedia.