Appreciating Hub firefighters on Cocoanut Grove anniversary

Saturday marked the 78th anniversary of one the deadliest nightclub fires in United States history, the Boston Cocoanut Grove fire of Nov. 28, 1942, which killed 490 people and caused 130 non-fatal injuries. The Bay Village restaurant and night club was the most popular entertainment location in Boston at the time, even though it was frequently overcrowded and often violated public safety regulations. The night of the horrendous fire, patrons crowded into the nightclub, but unfortunately the exit doors were blocked to prevent people from sneaking in without paying a cover charge or adhering to age requirements.
On Saturday, leading citizens who have been fighting for years for a permanent memorial on the site of the tragic fire came together to pay tribute to all those who perished in the blaze and place flowers at — hopefully — a new permanent Cocoanut Grove Memorial location at nearby Statler Hotel Park in Bay Village. Thanks in large part to the tireless efforts by committee members Dr. Ken Marshall, former Fire Commissioner Paul Christian, Michael Hanlon and Paul Miller, along with Boston City Hall supporters Mayor Marty Walsh and Bay Village area Boston City Councilor Edward Flynn of South Boston, things are finally coming together and we will have a historic Cocoanut Grove Memorial that citizens and tourists can visit and learn about.
I recall when I placed the original plaque in Bay Village in the early 1990s with Boston Fire Commissioners Leo Stapleton and Paul Christian and Firefighter Bill Noonan, it was pointed out that the Cocoanut Grove fire legacy would ultimately result in the complete replacement and modernization of all Boston Fire apparatus. These changes would have a remarkable impact on public safety in the city of Boston.
Ironically, Saturday morning, before we attended the Cocoanut Grove ceremony, while my wife Kathy was shopping on Broadway, she met dedicated retired Boston Firefighter Frankie Hogan and his wife. Not knowing that we would be attending that day’s commemoration, he kindly went out of his way to tell Kathy that “when Boston purchased and instituted all the new modern fire equipment when Ray became mayor in 1983, the safety of the citizens of Boston and its property improved greatly.” When Kathy got home from shopping and told me what Frank Hogan said to her, I told the people at the dedication that story.
I learned from my experiences that Boston has a great and dedicated group of firefighters, but they also deserved the best equipment money could buy. And that is why our city has the best fire department in the U.S.A., and I know that our citizens truly believe that. We hired the best firefighters on the merits, bought the best modern equipment and the people of Boston showed our firefighters and their families the respect they deserve and earned.
As Paul Miller, a resident of Bay Village, said at the ceremony, “It’s amazing all the progress that the Boston Fire Department has made over the years.” Ed Flynn responded that “this progress is because of the civic pride of its residents and the professionalism of our dedicated firefighters.”
God protect them and all our citizens.

Ray Flynn is a former mayor of Boston and U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

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Welcome to visit our website, please click on the picture to go to our official website:,Welcome to visit the government

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