May is one of the best months to be here on the East Side. The weather is close to perfect. Our neighborhoods are blessed with palettes of colorful plantings and greenscape that create masterpieces at every turn. The Beach at RISD gets repopulated by students sunning themselves. Frisbees are everywhere. It’s also a perfect opportunity to put traditional town-gown issues aside, at least for a little bit, as we celebrate the relationship with our academic institutions that make life in Providence, and on the East Side in particular, so special.
One of the major events this month is the traditional Memorial Day weekend graduation at Brown. With its campus dance, pops concert and dramatic student walks down the hill to the First Baptist Church, the pageantry is, arguably, unmatched anywhere else in the country. It’s also a weekend when Brown opens a window to its neighbors. Residents are encouraged to attend a wide range of free lectures and presentations on Saturday morning. We can buy tickets for most of the weekend events and, of course, lining up to say goodbye to the marching seniors is also free. Plus, since this will be the swan song for outgoing president Ruth Simmons, we expect this year’s festivities will be enhanced for the occasion as well.
As we go to press, the showdown between the City and Brown remains unresolved. A happy ending to this unfortunate standoff would make a fitting goodbye gesture from President Simmons to her beleaguered host city of the past decade and cement what already is an impressive legacy for her.
But that not withstanding, we urge all of our fellow East Side residents to take advantage of this special time. Our neighborhoods are at their visual best. Our streets are alive with visiting parents celebrating the graduation of their sons and daughters (mercifully ending the four years of financial servitude that frequently accompanies it). We get the chance to run shoulders with the famous parents and alumni who will be on hand for the festivities. And most important, we get the opportunity to congratulate the seniors on their accomplishments.
Here’s hoping that the departing students cherish the memories of their four years here. And, call us dreamers perhaps, here’s also hoping some of them liked being here enough that they choose to stick around and help their new adopted home prosper.