Nine gallons of cocoa later….

Bethany Santos-Fauteux and myself invaded Ward 4 Saturday night – and our reconnaissance is as follows: New Bedford still loves Clasky Common Park at Christmas, and … New Bedford loves cocoa!

Especially Cocoa at the Common. It’s the brainchild of Devin Byrnes, owner of downtown’s Destination Soups. But beyond that identifier, Devin is a dedicated community guy and decided to launch Cocoa at the Common as a way to foster civic participation on the Common.

Naturally, as co-founders of #NBW3 – The Ward 3 Project, also dedicated to fostering a sense of place and engagement in New Bedford’s Ward 3, Beth and I were down with representing our part of the city Saturday evening. It was the third evening of free Cocoa at the Common – and if you haven’t stopped by yet, mark Sat. Dec. 23 and Sat. Dec. 30 on your calendar.

Other reps will be handling the cup filling on those dates – and there’s even a rumor that a jolly guy in a red suit may make an appearance on Saturday the 23rd. Cocoa at the Common happens from 5:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. (Be sure to follow updates on their Facebook page here.)

This past Saturday, however, we wrapped up early – for a good reason. We ran out of cocoa! From 5:30 until 7:00, about 150 people stopped by for a cup just by where the monument to the Cuban-American War stands near the top of park. It was wild. We went through nine gallons of cocoa in an hour and a half.

And it was enlightening. People who hadn’t been to the Clasky Common Park holiday light display in years came by to check it out. Families, couples, kids, adults, old-timers who, like so many others, have never given up on enjoying a bright civic life in New Bedford. On a cold but beautiful December night, in all a couple of hundred such folk came out after dark to enjoy the luminosity of the city at night.

Beth and I had a blast. We’d like to thank Devin for asking us to participate. Thanks also for dropping off a wood-fired, brick-oven pizza from downtown’s Brick for us!

It’s not your traditional choice to pair with hot chocolate – but then again, thinking outside the box is what drives meaningful ideas like #NBW3, Cocoa at the Common, and so much more that is lighting up New Bedford these days – in every ward, everywhere.

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