Open Newbury’s new 2024 schedule includes 2 days in December

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TGIF! Today is the 20th anniversary of the first same-sex marriages in Massachusetts — and thus, the country. Since then, over 30,000 LGBTQ+ couples have gotten married in the state. WBUR’s Amy Gorel spoke to four couples about what the right has meant for their lives. You can also check out photos from that historic day in 2004 here.

Let’s get to the news:

What’s new on Newbury: Boston announced yesterday that this summer’s Open Newbury series will run 10 consecutive Sundays — June 30 to Sept. 1. While that’s a little shorter than last year’s 16-day schedule, the city also plans to hold Open Newbury on two days in December (exact dates TBD) to encourage holiday shopping in Back Bay — the first winter-time dates in the pedestrian-only program’s history.

  • What else is new: This year also includes flexibility that allows the city to cancel Open Newbury when the weather looks bad. (Such announcements would be made by Friday evening.)
  • What’s the same: The hours and location will be the same as last year: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., from Berkeley Street to Mass. Ave.
  • The big picture: Even with a slightly shorter schedule than last year, it’s still twice (or more) as many days than any previous year of Open Newbury. A spokesperson for Mayor Michelle Wu’s office said they decided “10 dates in the summer and two in the winter would be best for the community” following conversations with Back Bay business owners and residents. Boston City Councilor Sharon Durkan said in a statement that she believes the city is “striking the right balance” with the changes, which “will help maintain a special quality to each of the chosen days and provide a chance for businesses to plan.”

Open Newbury in 2021 (Jeff Dietrich/City of Boston)

PSA: Many Massachusetts residents and businesses devastated by last September’s intense flash floods can now seek financial help from the feds, after the White House overturned FEMA’s denial of the state’s disaster declaration. Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella told WBUR’s John Bender he is “thrilled” about the reversal.

  • Who can get help? Private property owners in both Worcester and Bristol counties (since North Attleborough was also hit hard) can apply for loans and grants to repair their homes and businesses via FEMA’s website, mobile app or helpline. The money can cover any losses not covered by insurance. (Mazzarella said 1,400 claims in Leominster have already been filed.)
  • What’s next: Leominster is still waiting to hear if the city will get federal help for repairs to public property, like roads and bridges.

Over the border: A bill that would restrict transgender athletes in grades 5-12 from playing sports on teams that align with their gender identity is headed to the desk of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu. The Republican-led Senate voted 13-10 along party lines yesterday in favor of the proposal, which would base students’ eligibility on their birth certificates and would explicitly ban those with male on their birth certificates from playing on girls’ sports teams.

  • What’s next: Sununu has not indicated his position on the bill. Supporters say the bill is necessary to protect girls from being injured by larger and stronger transgender athletes. Critics argue there are only five transgender girl athletes in New Hampshire, who will be marginalized by the bill.

Heads up: It might be a good weekend to try the ferry. Two MBTA subway lines and a bunch of commuter rail branches will be partially closed this weekend. You can read more about the reasons why on the T’s website, but here’s quick rundown of what it means for riders:

P.S.— Do you know what ubiquitous company was in a Massachusetts court this week defending its business model? Take our Boston News Quiz and test your knowledge of our recent stories.

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