AT BURNHAM’S FIELD, WAY MORE THAN A SIGN BY JOHN MCELHENNY
By John McElhenny
October 13, 2016
Kids created it and a vandal destroyed it.
The Burnham’s Field Community Garden mural stood for three years, a 20-foot-wide sign painted with red, purple and blue flowers beneath a cloud-filled sky and a bright afternoon sun. Designed and painted by kids at Cape Ann Art Haven, the mural was a sign of the rebirth that had taken place at Burnham’s Field, the largest green space and playground in central Gloucester, right across Pleasant Street from St. Ann’s church.
Burnham’s Field in past years had become a rundown, graffiti-covered playground where drug use thrived. Families stayed away and parents were afraid to let their kids play there. That all changed when the field was renovated. Two new playgrounds were built. A new lighted paved path for joggers and little bike-riders circled the field. Basketball courts were resurfaced. Two community gardens sprang up. New backstops and benches were built for the softball fields. Trees and flowers were planted. And families and kids returned.
“We’re bringing Burnham’s back,” people said.
Then someone took a hammer or a rock and punched holes the size of watermelons through the purple flowers and cloud-filled sky.