Yesterday’s inauguration ceremony was perhaps the best Newburyport inaugural that we have seen in years. It combined so many elements of what makes this city tick —a general feeling that the city is going in the right direction, acknowledgement of the many charity-minded people and entities that make it a strong community, a nod to the city’s past and agreeable goals for the future. It also had an informal formality that reminded us this is a small city where individuals and the little things matter.
Though the day was rainy and gray, the inauguration took place against a bright backdrop. Newburyport has been riding a high tide for several years. Its finances are healthy, it is well run, it is a desirable place to visit and to live. Its downtown is vibrant, its waterfront is improving steadily, it has a solid economic base and a huge reservoir of volunteers and charities working to maintain and improve the city. Its problems, though fought over and sometimes obsessed over, are small compared to what other cities must deal with. This is a good era in Newburyport’s history, and certainly the inaugural reflected that.
Newburyport is also a city that respects and understands its past, and knows something about perseverance. That was a theme that served as the overall thrust of this year’s inaugural.
This year marks the 250th anniversary of Newburyport. In 1764, the merchants and seafarers of the “Waterside” neighborhood of Newbury petitioned to have a sliver of land split off to form Newbury Port. The Port was a condensed pocket of industry surrounded by the farms of Newbury, its future tied to the waterfront. Though the shipyards, ships and factories that propelled Newburyport’s past are long gone, the waterfront and the legacy of that past are still what draws people here.