City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he would love to have a new contract and return to Chelsea so he can continue the work he started more than three years ago.
The announcement came on the eve of the beginning of his annual evaluation by a committee of the City Council – a process that will start Aug. 27.
Ambrosino is under contract for four years, and his contract runs out in July 2019, but the Council is required to notify him by January if they want him to return.
He’s hoping they do.
“I do hope they ask me to come back,” he said. “I have a great interest in continuing my work here. I love this city and love being City Manager here…The people here are wonderful. The challenges are interesting and it’s a vibrant and dynamic city with an exciting future ahead of it. I can’t think of a better place to be City Manager or CEO.”
Ambrosino signed his contract on July 20, 2015 in a four-year deal. Upon coming into the position, one of his first goals was to begin revamping the downtown business district, which was something that former City Manager Jay Ash had defined as a next focal point before he left.
Ambrosino said he feels like he only just started that work, and while a lot of planning and groundwork is complete, he’d like to see things completed.
“I feel like I’ve just started here, particularly with the downtown and our waterfront,” he said. “There’s a lot I’d like to see through to completion. When I was mayor in Revere, most of what I did there didn’t come to be until my last term in office and my last year there. It takes a long time to put your mark on a city.”
He is particularly impressed with the collaboration between the community and stakeholders like MGH, North Suffolk, Roca, the Collaborative, GreenRoots and so many more.
“I really feel that’s unique here and the City is lucky to have organizations like it does,” he said. “These are really tremendous community-based groups.”
All of that comes right alongside the upcoming City Manager evaluation process.
That has run a little slowly this time around. Though it is supposed to start in April, the Council appointed a committee but hasn’t had meetings yet. They will kick that off on Aug. 27, Council President Damali Vidot said.
The Committee is made up of Councillors Vidot, Judith Garcia, Bob Bishop, Leo Robinson, and Calvin Brown. They will evaluate Ambrosino on at least 11 points of his performance over the last year.
“It’s been tricky with our summer recess, but I’m confident we’ll have it wrapped up by October,” said Vidot.
She said a sticking point for her in any upcoming contract talks with Ambrosino – and in his evaluation – will be his residency.
Ambrosino said he cannot relocate to Chelsea due to personal circumstances that existed before he took the City Manager job.
Vidot said she feels strongly that the City Manager should live in Chelsea, but she also said that the previous Council didn’t require him to live here, so it wouldn’t be right to enforce it now.
“However, that shouldn’t be the norm moving forward,” she said.
Housing Families will host its annual Legislative Breakfast on Wednesday, March 28, from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. to raise awareness of the magnitude of family homelessness in Malden, Medford, Everett, Chelsea and Revere.
Housing Families’ Legislative Breakfast is a free event open to all and hosted at the Irish American Club, 177 West St, Malden, MA. A complimentary light breakfast will be served starting at 8:30am and the speaker series will run from 9:00 – 10:00 am.
Housing Families’ Director of Homelessness Prevention and Advocacy Laura Rosi said, “This is an opportunity for families who have experienced homelessness to share their stories and educate others about the issue. Community members will also have an opportunity to hear about State and local efforts to combat housing instability and learn about ways they can get involved.”
Ed Cameron, Housing Families’ CEO, added, “Our families in shelter have average income of less than $12,000 per year. With most apartments going for over $2,000 a month in our area, they just can’t afford to keep their heads above water.”
State and local elected officials have been invited to the Breakfast. To date, legislators scheduled to attend include: State Senator Jason Lewis, State Representative Paul Donato, Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, Medford Mayor Stephanie Muccini-Burke, Melrose Mayor Gail Infurna, City Councilor Neal Anderson, and Malden Public Schools Superintendant John Otieri.Other elected officials are expected to attend.
Special thanks to Bill Hart and the Malden Irish American Club for hosting the breakfast.
Service organizations sponsoring the breakfast are Housing Families Inc, Chelsea Collaborative, Homes for Families, and Shelter Music Boston. Housing Families is also grateful to its corporate sponsors for making this event possible: Kelliher & Callaghan, Lucey Insurance Agency, Stratford Capital Group LLC, Cataldo Ambulance, Fresco’s Roast Beef & Seafood, Hugh O’Neill’s Restaurant & Pub, Minuteman Press, New England Security, Shapiro & Hender, Yankee Pest Control, 3MG Boston, and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.
To RSVP, contact Patty Kelly at Housing Families 781-322-9119 x115 or email@example.com
Matt Maddox has been no stranger to the Everett casino, and above anyone else, the new CEO of Wynn Resorts – which includes Wynn Boston Harbor – is probably the one person most responsible for bringing the $2.4 billion resort casino across the Mystic River to Everett.
It was Maddox, who last month became the CEO in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations against former charismatic CEO Steve Wynn, who happened to see a small news clipping in his e-mail talking about a potential casino site being touted to Hard Rock Casino developers in Everett.
Fresh off a humbling casino proposal loss in Foxborough, the Wynn organization had pulled out of Massachusetts. As the story is told, though, Maddox hadn’t removed the Boston news alerts from his computer.
So it was he saw that little story about Everett that piqued his interest about another run at a Boston casino.
A phone call to Steve Tocco of Mintz Levin, and then a few phone calls around Everett, and shortly after that Maddox was taking a walking tour of the site, which he was very excited about. Soon after that, Steve Wynn and Maddox were sitting in Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s office at Everett City Hall.
The rest, of course, is history.
Maddox has rarely told that story, but it’s one that has become more appropriate for the Wynn Boston Harbor venture as Maddox, 42, has now taken charge of the Wynn company.
According to a biography provided by Wynn, Maddox grew up in a very small town in Arkansas with a population of just over 5,000 people. With a keen interest in investment banking since he was a small child in Arkansas, Maddox pursued that career early in life and worked for Bank of America and, later, for the predecessor of Caesar’s Entertainment.
That job caught the eye of the Wynn team, who formed Wynn Resorts in 2002 and made Maddox one of their first hires. He served as treasurer and vice president of investor relations when he came to Wynn, with one of his first tasks being to secure the financing for the Wynn Las Vegas project.
However, his claim to fame with the company was forging a path in Macau to secure a casino property there – a property that has become a major revenue source for the company.
“Maddox was among the first of the Wynn executive team to relocate to China in 2003, becoming the Chief Financial Officer of Wynn Resorts Macau,” read the company bio. “During his three years in Asia, he was a key leader on the pre-opening team that built the organization from ground breaking through the resort opening in 2006. The resulting Wynn Macau has proven to be one of the most successful integrated resorts ever created, and remains the only resort in the world with eight Forbes Five Star awards. In 2005, Mr. Maddox was named Senior Vice President of Business Development for Wynn Las Vegas, and later for Wynn Resorts.”
In 2013, after being promoted to president and chief financial officer, he focused on China once again and led the financing for the $4.2 billion Wynn Palace in Cotai. That hotel has also won awards from Forbes and has more than 1,000 rooms.
Last month, during the scandal that rocked the Wynn empire, Maddox assumed the duties of CEO of the company from Steve Wynn, who resigned his position. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) continues an investigation into the suitability of the company, as well as who knew about settlements and payments made by Steve Wynn for alleged sexual misconduct in 2005.
Maddox told the Boston Globe in a recent interview that he did not know about the settlement allegations during the vetting process in Massachusetts, and said the company has an investigation going on right now that is looking into who knew what and when.
Maddox has not been available to local reporters, but in an interview with the Boston Globe, he affirmed his support for Wynn Boston Harbor, and also said that the Wynn company is more than one person.
“Wynn is not about one person, it’s not about management, it’s about the 25,000 people that work here,” he told employees recently during a meeting following the fallout, according to Wynn.
He told the Globe that they are still committed to the Boston project fully, and have no intentions to sell it off to another developer.
“Absolutely,” he told the Globe. “We have spent $1.3 billion out of $2.4 billion [budgeted for Everett]. There are between 1,200 and 1,400 construction workers on site every day. I’m telling you, this is going to be the nicest integrated resort in the Northeast. It will have the biggest ballroom in the Northeast, 671 hotel rooms, 13 food and beverage outlets. It’s full steam ahead.”
Another hot topic has been the name of the property. While many believe that the Wynn brand name is now tainted beyond repair, Maddox told the Globe emotions are too raw right now to make that kind of game-changing decision.
“Emotions are so raw right now around this topic,” he told the Globe. “What I’m telling people is you don’t look at those things right now in this state. Because Wynn is a brand — it’s not about a person, it’s about the 25,000 people that work here. Our Chinese customers — we had one of our biggest Chinese New Year’s ever last week — they understand the Wynn brand. They don’t associate it with a person; they associate it with luxury and with service and with first class.”
Finally, he told the Globe that the Everett casino will still have the luxury cache that all Wynn properties have, even without the personal touch of Steve Wynn.
He told the Globe that Roger Thomas has been the company’s chief designer for several years, and Steve Wynn had not been involved at the detail level for some time. The last two casino openings, Maddox said, have been handled chiefly by Thomas.
“Roger is the author and Steve was always the editor,” Maddox told the Globe. “Steve had very clear ideas about how he wanted to do things. But Roger is the person — along with his quite large team — who specifies where we get the granite. Steve Wynn — he is a visionary. It is a fact. You can look up and down Las Vegas. But we have people who have worked on all these projects, in the design, conception, and execution, for over 30 years. There are no better-trained people in the world to execute new projects. We’re the ones who have done it.”
Maddox is expected to travel to Everett to take a tour of the resort casino project in the next month or so.
Sen. Sal DiDomenico will once again be hosting the annual DiDomenico Foundation St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Friday, March 9 beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the Bunker Hill Knights of Columbus in Charlestown. This event has become the official kick-off to the St. Patrick’s Day season. In addition to a traditional Irish dinner, the night will include Irish music, step dancers, comedy by Tony V, bag pipers, videos by elected officials and the annual presentation of the Golden Shamrock Award to a community leader. Over 75 federal, state, and local elected officials are also expected to attend and several of them will try their favorite St. Patrick’s Day jokes. Political figures joining the festivities include Gov. Charlie Baker, Congressman Mike Capuano, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and many more! There will also be a special surprise guest as well. This has quickly become one of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions in the Greater Boston community.
For more tickets and more information on the event, please call (617) 387-3327. Proceeds will go to The DiDomenico Foundation, which funds educational scholarships for high school students, as well as a large toy drive during the holiday season for domestic violence and homeless shelters throughout the Greater Boston area.
Chelsea is one of 35 Champion Cities selected this week as finalists in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face. These 35 urban innovations rose to the top of a competitive pool of more than 320 applications. The Champion Cities will now begin a 6-month testing phase where they will conduct public prototypes of their ideas with grant funding of up to $100,000 per city, a new addition to the Competition this year. The Mayors Challenge returns to the U.S. as one of the first investment in the American Cities Initiative, an effort to help U.S. cities generate innovation and advance policy.
Chelsea now advances to the six-month “Test, Learn, and Adapt” phase of the competition. Cities will refine their ideas during this process with up to $100,000, as well as personalized support from innovation experts, to test and begin building support for their urban innovations and submit a new application in August 2018. In October, four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to bring their ideas to life.
“We received hundreds of bold and creative ideas from cities around the country in response to the 2018 Mayors Challenge, and these 35 really stood out for their potential to improve people’s lives. The next six months are a great opportunity for the cities to test their ideas and make them even more innovative and effective,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.
The 35 Champion Cities performed the best against four key criteria – vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities. A prestigious selection committee Co-Chaired by Former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Former Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns and comprising distinguished policy experts, artists, academics, business executives and social innovation leaders assessed the applications.
Chelsea proposes to scale up its “Hub” crime prevention strategy. The “Hub” is a team of community and government agencies that meet weekly, identify individuals or families facing high levels of risk for crime, and immediately connect them to the services they need. Over the next six months, the Hub leaders will work with the Bloomberg team to formalize, sustain and grow the pilot, as well as build data capacity to learn, adapt, and direct limited resources towards crime prevention. Like the Canadian Hub model, on which the Chelsea Hub model is based, Chelsea expects that the Hub will readily transfer to other communities in Massachusetts and the U.S. The broader aim is for government, community and social services agencies to move from working in silos toward a collaborative effort to more effectively improve community well-being and safety.
“We’re very excited about being a finalist in the Bloomberg Challenge. We hope this opportunity will allow us to continue our work to alleviate the root causes of violence, poverty and homelessness in Chelsea, and connect residents to the help they need,” said Tom Ambrosino, Chelsea City Manager.
The 2018 Mayors Challenge builds on the success of previous Bloomberg-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). For more information, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org” mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.
On what was his 16th anniversary in the office of District Attorney, Dan Conley surprised many by announcing he would not run for the office again.
Simply put, the former prosecutor turned City Councilor turned DA, said he believed it was time to let others have a chance to run the county-wide office – an office that covers Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop.
“I love the job, the office, its staff, and the people and communities we serve,” said Conley in a statement. “But I have long believed that those of us fortunate enough to lead as elected officials must also be willing to give others the same opportunity. For this reason, I will not be seeking re-election this fall.”
Conley entered office on Feb. 20, 2002.
Chelsea Chief Brian Kyes – who worked closely with Conley and his office on hundreds of cases – said
“The news of my good friend Dan Conley not seeking re-election as the District Attorney of Suffolk County certainly comes as a surprise,” said the Chief. “I have been extremely fortunate to have worked directly with Dan and collaborate with him on a multiple of public safety initiatives and programs during the past 11 years as the Police Chief in Chelsea. His institutional knowledge, wisdom and extraordinary guidance as the leader of the prestigious office on Bulfinch Place has had an incredible impact across the entire region of Suffolk County that will last for decades. While I wholeheartedly respect Dan’s decision, which no doubt was a difficult one for him and his family, I know that he continues to have plenty to offer to the criminal justice system here in the Commonwealth moving forward.”
The news also set off a firestorm of candidates debating or announcing a run.
Already, by Wednesday morning, there were some candidates who had announced their possible intentions to run – most notably City Councilor at-Large Michael Flaherty. The councilor was a former assistant prosecutor.
“After today’s announcement by DA Conley, I have been asked if I would be interested in running for Suffolk County District Attorney to succeed him,” said Flaherty in a statement. “To that I say that I have always been interested in being the Suffolk County District Attorney. But this day is about acknowledging the outstanding job Dan Conley has done for the residents of Suffolk County. I will consult with my family about my own plans, but today we all owe our gratitude and thanks to Dan Conley…”
Long-time defense attorney Shannon McAuliffe, who has roots in Chelsea’s Roca program, had already been planning to run and will continue those plans.
Meanwhile, many have postulated about potential candidates around the area, mostly without any confirmation.
City Corporate Counsel Gene O’Flaherty, a Charlestown resident, has been mentioned in more than a few circles. With support in his former home of Chelsea –where he was the state representative for years – and also in Boston City Hall, where he now works, he could be a potential candidate with backing from key county personalities.
Within Conley’s office, long-time accomplished prosecutor Ed Zabin cannot be overlooked as a potential candidate for the position. His experience and expertise in prosecuting the most difficult cases in the county has no comparison.
Looking at some of the best attorneys in the area, one cannot overlook superstar defense attorney Rosemary Scapicchio, who has argued some of the best cases in the county for her clients with great success – and remarkable toughness.
One cannot discount former Councilor and mayoral candidate John Connolly, who is a close friend to Conley and recently showed up last year during Mayor Martin Walsh’s campaign after years of silence. Could he be looking for the position?
Meanwhile, in East Boston, former Boston City Councilor Mike Ross has been talked about as someone who would make sense in the post.
Any candidate, though, will have big shoes to replace, as Conley has been a very successful DA for many years.
In a letter to his staff, he outlined the scores of changes and innovations that have come to the DA’s office through his tenure – whether with the advent of DNA evidence or the hiring of skilled prosecutors.
In his statement, he also thanked law enforcement throughout the county.
“At a time when law enforcement has come under intense scrutiny across the country I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the men and women of law enforcement across Suffolk County for their courage, their determination to do a difficult job well, and the standard they set for other agencies,” he said
He also said that the people of Suffolk County have been a blessing to him.
“From victims and survivors to families and loved ones, they have shown a depth of dignity and grace amid crisis and grief that has been nothing short of inspirational,” he said. “I am so grateful to them for their kindness, their wisdom, and their faith.”
Kyes added, “Leaders like Dan come along once in a generation. I consider myself a better public safety servant from being given the opportunity to have known and worked with him and have benefited from his leadership. I wish him nothing but the best as he begins a challenging new chapter.”
The election for district attorney won’t occur until the fall, but nomination papers for the seat and the Democratic primary in September will become available shortly.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh announced this month a $17 million public-private partnership with Roca, anchor business institutions and philanthropic organizations to help Baltimore’s highest risk young people disrupt cycles of poverty and incarceration.
Roca is a Massachusetts-based group that has earned national recognition for providing some of the most innovative and effective interventions for young adults most at risk for committing or becoming a victim of violence.
The program currently operates in four sites in Massachusetts (Boston, Chelsea, Lynn, Springfield) and will replicate its model in Baltimore City.
“This is a very special announcement for me because we believe the approach to violence reduction is holistic, and we want to be inclusive in our approach to reducing the violence that exists in our city,” said Mayor Pugh. “Roca is not just a program that focuses in on individuals between the ages of 17-24, it is an intense focus that helps young people move beyond violence and into the types of job training, and personal development that leads them to become more productive members of our community.”
The significant new partnership will join other efforts to proactively engage high-risk youth in the City of Baltimore, and to reduce recidivism for those who have already encountered the criminal justice system. It will be funded by a combination of private and public dollars raised by Roca and the City of Baltimore, with a request for State funding still pending.
“We are humbled by the incredible efforts in the city to bring about change,” said Roca founder and CEO, Molly Baldwin. “At Roca, we are painfully aware that we can neither arrest nor program our way out of the violence devastating this city and that we need a different approach. We are so grateful for the invitation to help and we know we have a lot to learn as we initiate our work in Baltimore.”
Currently, Roca serves over 1,000 high-risk young people in 21 communities in Massachusetts and has been preparing to work in Baltimore for the past five years. Roca plans to serve 75 young people in Baltimore during its first year and gradually increase its services to 300 young people annually over the next three years.
Roca will begin operations in Baltimore during Summer 2018. An intensive planning process already is underway.
The Tobin Bridge Chabad of Everett, Temple Emmanuel and the Walnut Street Synagogue will host a Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony Sunday in Chelsea Square.
Hanukkah, also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights, began Tuesday night and continues for eight days.
Rabbi Yisroel “Sruli” Baron said the City of Chelsea was very welcoming to holding the event in the city.
“We reached out to City Manager Tom Ambrosino and he was very helpful and encouraging in setting up this ceremony,” said Rabbi Baron, who is the spiritual leader of the new Tobin Bridge Chabad that is housed in the former Congregration Tifereth Israel on Malden Street in Everett, just over the Chelsea border. Tobin Bridge Chabad is an affiliate of Chabad of the North Shore.
Ambrosino will deliver the city greetings at the event that was an initiative of Tobin Bridge Chabad. The city manager and former Revere mayor will also have the honor of lighting the shamash candle, which is the ninth branch of the menorah.
Rabbi Oksana Chapman of Temple Emmanuel and Rabbi Lila Kagedan of Congegration Agudas Shalom (Walnut Street) will join Rabbi Baron in leading the ceremony. The two local congregations are co-hosting the holiday gathering.
City Council President Leo Robinson will lead a delegation of Chelsea officials expected to be in attendance.
Rabbi Baron invites Chelsea residents to attend the candle lighting ceremony that will begin at 5:30 p.m.
The State Legislature has approved a major change aimed at helping those with minor criminal records from the past not be barred from getting casino jobs statewide, and particularly at the Wynn Boston Harbor resort.
Earlier this year, it became apparent that the Expanding Gaming Law was very stringent, and was likely going to bar people with minor offenses from the past from getting jobs at the casino – including jobs in restaurants or housekeeping.
Many spoke out in an effort to reform the statute, and Speaker Bob DeLeo took up the cause – including it in the Supplemental Budget last week that passed both the House and Senate.
“At its heart, the gaming law is about providing jobs and improving the economy,” said DeLeo. “I wouldn’t want to see people – particularly those who are underemployed or unemployed – barred from working in a hotel or a restaurant, for example. I’m pleased that we made the change and look forward to seeing the Gaming Commission’s work on this time-sensitive matter.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria
“My top priority is to ensure that Everett residents have the opportunity to succeed, have a career and raise a family right here in Everett,” said DeMaria. “We all know people who have made some mistakes in their past, but now deserve the opportunity to lead productive lives. The best way to do that is to provide them with a job. I commend the legislature for passing criminal justice reform for service employees and the gaming commission for supporting this measure. Otherwise restaurant workers, hotel housekeepers, and parking lot attendants would be barred from working in a hotel because of a minor conviction.”
The Gaming Law currently has the “automatic disqualifier” provision that prevents a non-gaming employee from working in a casino – even in hotel work, restaurant work and physical plant work – if they have a felony conviction in the past 10 years. In Massachusetts now, it takes 10 years before a person can seal such a felony record and not have it count against them for things like employment in the casinos. Additionally, in Massachusetts, many felonies have a very low threshold – such as larceny over $250.
The changed language is not as specific and puts more power in the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s (MGC) hands to vet potential employees. The language puts it at the MGC’s “discretion.”
“the Massachusetts Gaming Commission established pursuant to section 3 of said chapter 23K, may exempt certain gaming service employees by job position from the registration requirement at its discretion,” read the new language.
The language will have to be vetted by several agencies and then will go to the MGC for potential implementation.
The MGC has been in favor of such changes in letters sent to the Legislature this year, but chose not to comment for this story.
Lifelong Chelsea resident Mario Zullo (right) greets his friend, world heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, at a Boston restaurant.
Family and friends are remembering Mario Zullo, a member of one of Chelsea’s most prominent families, as a respected business owner and a larger-than-life figure for decades who knew people from all walks of life and every corner of Chelsea.
Mr. Zullo, who had nine brothers and two sisters, died on Sept. 30, 2016 surrounded by his loving family. He was 90 years. He was the son of Christopher and Angelina Zullo.
There was a touch of irony that Mario died on the week the Jewish New Year was being observed. Growing up on Maverick Street in a city with thousands of Jewish residents, Mario had many Jewish friends who shared his love of life, knew his close-knit family well, and enjoyed the sport of boxing as much as he did.
Mario became the Chelsea connection to Rocky Marciano, the Brockton Bomber who became the heavyweight champion of the world and retired with an undefeated record. Mario served as Rocky’s publicist and confidante and the champion’s visits to Chelsea were frequent. It was Mario who brought the then-world champ Marciano to Chelsea for the Columbus Day Parade in which he and the champ occupied a convertible with then-Mayor Andrew P. Quigley.
Former heavyweight champion John Ruiz, the first Latino to win the title, also came to value Mario’s career advice and guidance.
Mario’s personality and street-smart eloquence – sometimes using Yiddish expressions – were infectious. His cleaning store, Park Cleaners, was a place to receive not only great service from Mario and his beloved wife, Elena, but to receive advice and discuss the issues of the day.
Daughter Judi Festa and her husband, William “Chuck,” and daughter Diane Zullo are proud members of the family living in Peabody. Mario’s sister, Barbara Libby, a well-known volunteer at the Chelsea Senior Center, is the lone surviving sibling.
Mario’s nieces and nephews, Angela Zullo, Michael Zullo, Richard Zullo, and twins Paul Zullo and Lisa Zullo, the children of former amateur boxing champion Michael “Mickey” Zullo and Jeanette (Fantasia) Zullo, were among the local carriers of the family’s charm, charisma, and mystique. The Zullos were generous, personable, and kind, and like their uncle and parents, the Zullo children’s warmth was genuine and welcoming to people in all communities.
Mr. Zullo had three grandchildren, Alana Rikeman, Giana Festa, and Joseph Breda.
He attended Chelsea High School and entered the U.S. Navy. He started a dry cleaning business handling the needs of the nearby Chelsea Naval Yard. He was in the dry cleaning business for decades, opening his first store in Chelsea. His store was at the corner of Park Street and Everett Avenue, just a few doors down from Kirshon Paint.
The love of his life was Elena (Cianfrocca) Zullo, who died in 2014.
“It was love at first sight,” said Judi. “They had their wedding reception at Revere City Hall. They were always together.”
Mario struck up a friendship with Rocky Marciano, who knocked out 90 percent of his opponents and held the championship from 1952 to 1956. A world-renowned figure, Rocky chose to spend a lot of his time away from the ring with Mario, whom he trusted and considered a real friend.
“Mario went to every one of his fights,” said Judi. “Rocky would train at Grossinger’s in New York and he wanted Mario to be around him.”
Part of the strong connection with Rocky was attributed to Mario’s comfortableness with people of all backgrounds.
“Mario was comfortable with people no matter what their status or caliber was,” said Judi. “When he met somebody, they wanted to be around him. The Jewish people loved him. They invited him to the synagogue and to celebrate the holidays.”
One time on a family trip to Las Vegas, Mario took a seat next to two multi-millionaires – one a businessman and the other a movie producer.
“By the time the show started, Mario had them eating out of his hand,” said his daughter. “I cannot even tell you how people just gravitated to him.”
Judi said she and her sister inherited their father’s outgoing personality and ability to connect with people. Mario was the center of attention at family gatherings, she related.
Judi said Park Cleaners became Mario’s platform, working alongside his beloved wife.
“He solved everyone’s problems at the store,” said Judi. “He made friends with everybody and knew how to make people feel important. John Ruiz became one of his buddies. Whenever you went in to the store, Mario and his wife were together. They were great dancers, too.”
Mario loved Chelsea with all his heart. “He and Andrew Quigley had a great relationship. They were very close,” said Judi. “There was a great photo in the Chelsea Record of Mario, Andrew, and Rocky riding down Broadway in a controvertible during the Columbus Day Parade.”
Mario was healthy through his later years but following a bout with pneumonia, he became a resident of a nursing home in Peabody.
“Mario’s care at the nursing home was awesome,” said Judi. “He was like the mayor of the nursing home. He would go around meeting people. I used to bring him cookies and my sister would bring him things.
“The other residents would tell me, ‘we love your father, he always has those cookies.”
From his early days on Maverick Street to the final days of a wonderful life, Mario was always giving to others and making people feel good about themselves.
That’s the Mario Zullo that Chelsea will never forget.