When AOL and West Roxbury Collide: Patch’s Big Night

What’s so exciting about Patch is that it will bring quality, comprehensive news coverage to places that need it most. It’s no secret that a disproportionate amount of news coverage is centered on our country’s major cities, with their multiple newspapers, competing TV stations and armies of bloggers. Which, of course, is all well and good. But Patch’s unprecedented contribution will be to bring that same energy and quality coverage to the suburbs, villages and small towns too often neglected by traditional media. As much as any major American city, these towns provide a snapshot of our national story, a real-time portrait of the way we live now. – Arianna Huffington on Patch.com

When Arianna Huffington set out to create a network of local bloggers and reporters with Patch.com, even she couldn’t have expected what transpired in West Roxbury last night.  It is fitting that the Patch logo is blades of grass, because last night the West Roxbury Patch showcased how grassroots journalism can unite a community.  What started as an internet poll, turned into an event that drew elected officials from City Council to United States Senators, and even a rumored phone call from the President of the United States.

Let’s back up a bit.  What was this all about? On February 13, 2012 West Roxbury Patch editor David Ertischek asked a simple question in an internet poll, “who should be the mayor of West Roxbury?”.  Over 28,000 pageviews and 6,200 votes later, West Roxbury had a new Lord Mayor.  Gormley Funeral Home Director, Lord Mayor Richie Gormley.  

But the story doesn’t end there.  The simple blog post, and internet poll helped harness the community spirit of West Roxbury.  Annexed by Boston in 1874, West Roxbury once again had local leadership, and there needed to be an inauguration.  That’s where Patch and AOL corporate stepped up to the plate.  They sponsored one of the most unique political and community events witnessed in the City of Boston, and perhaps the Nation.  Here’s how David at the Patch describe it.

Make a long story short – on Friday night, there will be one of the most unique celebrations in West Roxbury and Boston history. The West Roxbury Patch.com-sponsored – Inauguration of the first Unofficial Mayor of West Roxbury – with all door proceeds and auction items going to nominees charities of choice.

In an incredible sign of bipartisanship, politicians of both major political parties will be convening on one stage for presentations to Lord Mayor Gormley. Scheduled to appear, but not limited to, include: US Sen. Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts; state Sen. Mike Rush, D-West Roxbury; state Rep. Ed Coppinger, D-West Roxbury; Michael Lonergan, Consulate General of Ireland in Boston; US Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-9th; Former Mayor of Boston and Ambassador to the Vatican Ray Flynn; Bishop Arthur Kennedy and Bishop Emilio Allue; Boston City Council President Stephen Murphy, Boston City Councilors Matt O’Malley, John Connolly, Tito Jackson, Sal Lamatina, and other councilors.

The event was a rousing success.  Well over a 1000 people crammed the West Roxbury Irish Social Club to watch Mayor Menino administer the Oath of Office to Lord Mayor Gormley.  Thousands of dollars were raised for charity, and a slice of America, that has almost vanished was revived in the process.  A true community came together to honor one of it’s own, in a scene reminiscent of 1952, not 2012.  

Congrats to the West Roxbury Patch and Lord Mayor Gormley on both the night, and restoring some faith in community.

About Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno