Meriden 2020, Bringing It Together "Seeing Meriden with Fresh Eyes"

COlumn: Seeing Meriden with fresh eyes


Marie Johnson left and Anne Caraballo both of Meriden select ears of corn from the Gotta's Farm stand Saturday during the Meriden Farmers Market on the Meriden Green in Meriden Jul. 16, 2016 | Justin Weekes / For the Record-Journal

It has been almost a year since I drove into Meriden for the first time in my life. I came to look at the historic Charter Oak Hose One fire house at Hanover and Butler Streets; the first fire station in Meriden. It was owned by King Travel and the lovely Jean King. By Christmas of 2015, my son-and-law and I were shining up the interior and a few weeks later, I moved to Meriden. My daughter founded Art Capsule and opened on the first floor in February with much fanfare thanks to the Meriden Chamber of Commerce. I live happily on the second floor.

Former Mayor Mike Rohde was the first Meridenite to welcome us to the community. He took my son- in-law and me on a tour of this great town and showed us many of Meriden’s impressive parks and schools, the gorgeous golf course, beautiful neighborhoods and spoke about all the many Meriden treasures that are here and its sterling history. He also explained the transformation that is happening here after decades of work, planning and sweat. I soon began to see for myself the major changes and projects that were and are taking shape in this city.

I moved here during a long illness and the end of marriage. I had planned on being an unknown; a hermit in the Firehouse, but Mike’s enthusiasm induced me to get involved. He invited to me to a Meriden Farmers’ Market meeting and asked me to join the board of directors. I accepted but I did not understand at the time that we would be the first event to be held on the new Meriden Green in all it’s splendor. The market had been kind of a gypsy moving from location to location.

As the committee planned for the July 9 market opening in the summer of this year, I wanted to bring a local flavor to the market and offered several local restaurants the opportunity to allow me to sample some of their dishes to the market shoppers. (I could not help but to add a few seasonal dishes of my own!) It has been a wonderful activity in which to be involved. I have met so many people and been welcomed by many organizations.

I am now also active with the Meriden Arts and Cultural community and working on an exciting project for the Firehouse. I also just started volunteering and teaching culinary at Washington Middle School. What a great bunch of kids! And Washington is an impressive school with a great staff. I cannot wait to visit some other schools, so many of which have had major investments. This town is like nowhere else!

Truly Meriden is an incredible place to live. With its awesome recreation and cultural activities, there is something to do every weekend. I have never seen a Parks and Rec department that operates like Meriden’s. Impressive indeed! Meriden has almost 70 restaurants and some of the best food in Connecticut. Meriden’s cost of living has got to be one of the lowest in Connecticut. So many activities are free! It has two downtown supermarkets, a thriving Main Street, an impressive Y and gorgeous places of worship. The police force is one of the best around, the city officials and government are welcoming, accommodating and encouraging. And we have a terrific, singing, hard working mayor. There is a very cohesive vision for Meriden and I am lucky enough to be part of its realization. I moved to Meriden for the most exciting time and did not have a clue when I came here.

But the best of Meriden’s assets is its residents. I have made so many friends and often find myself laughing around the table with interesting and energetic people. This community embraced me. I am very grateful to be here. I walked around the Meriden Green Celebration so proud and felt like a real member of this community. Thank you, Meriden. You have all inspired me in so many ways.

The Meriden Farmers Market has its final day of the season this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. This will be a Halloween extravaganza, featuring free pumpkins for decorating, face painting, bouncy houses, activities for children, and a DJ. There also might be some surprises as well. I promise some Halloween culinary treats. Please join us for the final day of the first Meriden Farmers Market season at the new and fantastic Meriden Green on Pratt Street. Pick up some fresh vegetables, pickles, jam, bread pudding, baked goods and more. Check out our other creative and innovative vendors. Take a stroll through the Meriden Green and walk over the Silver City Bridge. And please, come say hello to me. I will be happy to share why I already feel like this is MY Meriden.

Author and culinary entrepreneur Harry W. Schwartz is a Meriden resident.

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