Don’t Eat the Messenger


FOX25When I tuned in to Fox 25’s morning news on Friday, August 27, I wondered why it had been pre-empted by an episode of the Phantom Gourmet.

Seriously, I understand that Wakefield wanted to grab the opportunity to showcase itself as a “dining destination,” but Friday’s “Zip Trip” show from Wakefield Common featured enough food to feed a small country.

In fairness, the show did include a segment on Guillow’s, one of Wakefield’s oldest manufacturing businesses as well as a few other non-food-centered shops like Rada Boutique and Sew Trendy Studio. They did feature the Angel Fund, the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress and a too-brief segment on the efforts to replace Wakefield’s World War II Memorial.
Bellino's deckBut that still left plenty of time for food, glorious food. From Billy’s to Bellino’s, it was border to border bistros for four hours. Channel 25’s Gene Lavanchy, VB and Cindy Fitzgibbon were more food-focused than a fox in a hen house.

In addition to the aforementioned, a long list of local food establishments got some well-deserved exposure, including Cravings, the Wakefield Farmers’ Market, The Gingerbread Construction Company, Ristorante Molise, Farmland, Meletharb, The Chuck Wagon Diner, C ‘n’ D’s Barbecue, Dunkin’ Donuts and Café Jag’s. Even McDonald’s managed to get a few seconds of air time when the camera showed a group of kids sporting McD’s t-shirts.
Meletharb Home Made Ice Cream
In terms of local history, Wakefield’s legendary theme park, Pleasure Island, did get a brief mention. Given the tenor of the day, it’s a wonder that Channel 25 didn’t devote an entire segment to the park’s Lighthouse Snack Bar.

Too bad no one on last Friday’s show knew enough to mention that it was 50 years ago to the day, on August 26-27, 1960 that the Pleasure Island Jazz Festival brought to Wakefield the likes of Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington, Dave Brubek, Nina Simone, Art Blakey, Pee Wee Russell, Gene Krupa and Oscar Peterson. The two-day festival was produced by legendary jazz promoter and producer George Wein, the founder of the Newport Jazz Festival.

Fox 25’s Zip Trip show did devote some coverage to the town’s effort to replace the crumbling World War II Memorial on Wakefield’s Upper Common. Committee Chairman Phyllis Hull told Channel 25’s VB that nearly $125,000 – more than half of the needed $200,000 – had been raised so far.

It could have given the fundraising a nice boost if Channel 25 had devoted just a few seconds to the fundraising effort itself, specifically the sale of memorial pavers for the Veterans’ Walk of Remembrance. But apparently, a pre-taped interview with Paver Subcommittee chairman John Encarnacao wound up on the cutting room floor.

Maybe the committee should have set up a table of food in front of the memorial.

[This column originally appeared in the August 2, 2010 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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