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On Town Day, the winners are ...

Town Day on Sept. 17 was much more than a win-win. Depending on your perspective, the day had at least four wins. Consider:
Town Day 2022, AHS cheerleaders at Town Hall. / Isla Jamieson photo

  1. Five participants at YourArlington's booth each won a $25 gift certificate for correctly answering a five-question quiz about Arlington news (answers and names below).

  2. The site, the town's only online independent news source that pays reporters to write about the town, announced in a booth display that it has won a $15,000 federal grant. The funds will be used over the next two years to pay for longer-form, explanatory journalism.

  3. A nonprofit news site thrives on tips and donations from the public, and we won both last Saturday.

  4. The town as a whole also won, as Arlington emerged from the ongoing pandemic to hold its 44th Town Day while thousands of people enjoyed a near-perfect Saturday, punctuated at dusk by a 22-minute explosion of fireworks. 
What is Town Day anyway?

The event celebrating Arlington, begun in 1976, has been interrupted since then only twice – for two years by the pandemic.

Defining its meaning are the smiles of attendees, the entertainment erupting from Town Hall's main stage, the fire department demonstration towering just past Robbins Library, the touches of art at Whittemore Park and at Robbins Gardens, the aromatic food (healthy and otherwise) and the more than 200 booths, each seeking attention for its own causes.

Here is what happened at YourArlington's booth, its fourth since the news site was founded in 2006.

Forty-eight people puzzled over the answers to five local-news questions -- "real news," the poster said, as distinct from the fake kind, alleged by a certain former president. "I'm not sure" was a common response. The doubtful took their shots anyway.

At YourArlington booth, Bob Sprague helps a quiz taker. / Emily Sprague photoAt YourArlington's booth, Bob Sprague helps a quiz taker. / Emily Sprague photo

Questions, answers

Here are the questions, followed by the possible responses, followed by the right answers: 

1.) What does the image on the left show (most precise answer)?

a.) Map of Arlington. b.) Map of Arlington showing neighborhoods. c.) Map of Arlington showing open space (correct).

2.) How many recreational-marijuana shops have opened in town?

a.) One, b.) Two (correct), c.) Three.

3.) What is the name of the current chairperson of the Arlington School Committee?

a.) Jeff Thielman, b.) Kirsi Allison-Ampe, c.) Liz Exton (correct).

4.) Is it legal to park on public streets from 1 to 7 a.m. in town?

a.) Only on Halloween, b.) Yes, c.) No (correct).

5.) Who was Sam Whittemore (Menotomy version)?

a.) A member of the retreating British forces. b.) A farmer who hid from the British. c.) A resident who fought back against the British (correct).

5 winners in tough test

Choosing five winners was harder than I had expected. This week, at home, my wife reached into a bag containing paper slips from 48 entrants. She did not choose five with correct answers until the very last slip.

The test was clearly too hard for many. Should YourArlington "dumb down" questions about town news? Nope. Just keep reporting and explaining Arlington as accurately and as fairly as we can.

The five who have won gift certificates to Noodle Market are Steve Kleiman, Andrew Feller, Stewart Ikeda, Amanda Gazin and Caroline Johnson.

Tipsters welcome

Our thanks to all for participating in the quiz -- and those who helped in other ways, by offering news tips.

Two were about shopping carts. One resident sought help reporting about the dumping of carts into the Mill Brook. Another expressed his displeasure with a 2020 YourArlington story about carts taken from markets but not returned.

Others raised these issues for possible investigations -- the Arlington angle on real-estate trusts, why didn't the Red Line extend to Arlington in the 1970s? and "all the amazing Arlington businesses that stepped up" during the pandemic, some reducing prices.

We want to know your story ideas, particularly now that YourArlington is among those nonprofit organizations in town that have won ARPA grants. They are federal, Covid-related funds awarded through a program managed by the Town of Arlington. Over the next two years, the lion's share of the money will go toward reporting.

What YourArlington can investigate and explain depend on available writers and the site's ongoing resource – you. Would you like to help? Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

As a nonprofit, the news site gets its operating expenses in three ways -- through grants, underwriting and your donations. To keep journalism alive in Arlington, now that The Advocate has merged with the Winchester paper and has no dedicated reporter, please consider giving, here >> 


Sept. 17, 2022: Arlington celebrates itself, topped off by fireworks 
 

This news/opinion column was published Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. It was updated Sept. 22, to change a photo.

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