By JOHN HOWELL This year has been full of bumps, so Mayor-elect Frank Picozzi was not defeated when his Picozzi Family Christmas display wasn't up and running in time for its traditional Black Friday opening. He traced the problem to a component not
This year has been full of bumps, so Mayor-elect Frank Picozzi was not defeated when his Picozzi Family Christmas display wasn’t up and running in time for its traditional Black Friday opening. He traced the problem to a component not larger than a candy bar but virtually impossible to find, no less have delivered, on Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s just this year. It’s 2020,” he said.
Picozzi had the show up and running by Saturday. The word spread quickly and visitors started lining up as the night sky darkened. Cars wrapped around the block on Gristmill Road and onto West Shore Road. Picozzi estimated some people waited more than an hour to see the show. Police arrived and directed traffic so as to ensure access to area homes and the flow of traffic on West Shore Road.
Picozzi was pleased people stayed in their cars, although that meant longer waits for many. He was also thrilled by their generosity, reporting that he took in $780 in donations for the Tomorrow Fund to set a new record in donations on a single night. The previous high was $480.
Depending on the traffic, Picozzi said he might abbreviate the show from more than an hour to 10 to 12 minutes so as to speed things along. He suggests that families can gather outside the display as long as they wear masks, stay together by family and “it’s not one big crowd.”
While Picozzi is wrestling with the logistics of running his popular light show in the midst of a pandemic, he’s also devoting increasing amounts of time to preparing to take the reins as the city’s top elected official. He has been interviewing candidates for key positions in his administration and as of Tuesday selected a solicitor. He expects to release that information shortly and quite possibly at the same time that he announces a chief of staff. He did not say anything about a finance director, a position that he hopes to fill before stepping into the mayor’s office.
Picozzi said department directors have been sent letters asking them to express their interest if they want to stay in their posts. He expects to start department director interviews shortly.
Now with a “pause” because of a surge in COVID-19 cases and not knowing what will happen next, Picozzi said he has put planning for an inauguration temporarily on hold. Under the city charter, after being administered the oath of office (Picozzi has asked former mayor and Supreme Court Justice Frank Flaherty to administer the oath), he is to administer the oath for members of the City Council and School Committee. As for the location, finding an indoor space large enough to have officials and a number of their guests properly distanced is one issue. The other issue is not knowing what limitations may be in effect at that time.
Picozzi thought the steps of City Hall could be an option if indoor gatherings are strictly regulated or forbidden.
He described the transition as going smoothly, with his team receiving the full cooperation of Mayor Joseph Solomon and his people.
“We’re getting the information,” he said.
Picozzi’s encounter with shingles, which slowed his efforts to get the light display up and running and has him hobbling, has made life that much more complicated. He said the shingles have transitioned from his heel partially up his leg, making it easier to walk but no less painful.
“I can walk a lot better,” he said. “I can live with the pain. I’m just happy I can move around again.”