Updated: Jul 13, 2021
by 4Squares Residential Group in Partnership with Judi 411
The 2021 Meet Me in Medford series wouldn't be complete if we didn't feature our fearless leader, Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn. A life-long Medford resident, mother of three, business owner, and public servant, Mayor Lungo-Koehn stepped into her role as mayor at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and led our community through to the other side.
As we begin to emerge and connect in the community once again, we asked Mayor Lungo-Koehn to share her memories of growing up in the 02155, and what she celebrates and loves about living in Medford.
You were born and raised here in Medford. What are some of your childhood memories of growing up here?
So, so many different memories! I grew up on South Street along the Mystic River, and I have many childhood memories of walking over the Route 16 bridge with my mom to St. Joseph School on High Street and going to Colleen's Ice Cream Shop after school. My sister and I would run down High Street, clutching our $1 off coupons from the church bulletin, and get strawberry sundaes. We were also Barry Park kids, where we hung out and played from nine in the morning until seven at night every day in the summer.
Another great memory is Wellington Circle, what is now Station Landing, where my dad had his Christmas tree and flower shop, and Bickford's was right across the street. Now the area is thriving with restaurants and stores, a hotel, and apartment buildings.
A little bit before for my time, but I always remember hearing grown-ups talk about Carroll's Diner and how people used to love going there. It's fun to see how everything old is new again, with Carroll's in its current location by the Craddock Bridge, knowing so many memories attached to that iconic business.
You've lived in a few different Medford neighborhoods and now make your home in Fulton Heights. What made you choose North Medford?
When we were first married, my husband and I rented for a while in South Medford on Dexter Street then went to Mass Ave near the Lawrence Memorial Hospital. After we had our third child, we began house hunting, and we fell in love with the Fulton Heights neighborhood.
North Medford is quaint, it's pretty quiet, and it's close to so much. Take a right on Highland Avenue, and you can go to Fellsmere Pond and walk around to feed the ducks. Go left and your minutes from Wright's Pond and the Flynn Rink, then take the five-mile loop down to the Stone Zoo and up the other side toward Sheepfold. We're also not far from Medford Square and Wellington Circle. We're close to so much! We also have fantastic neighbors and continue to love the neighborhood. I love it up here.
You've served on City Council and now leading the city as Mayor while also finding time to establish a chapter of Girls on the Run. Tell us more about Girls on the Run.
I learned about Girls on the Run when my oldest daughter was in first or second grade at the Roberts School. I located the Greater Boston chapter, and I found out that its focus was third through fifth-grade girls. I loved that the organization's curriculum teaches girls confidence and encourages their self-esteem while teaching them the discipline of running.
At the time, I was working in my Wellington Circle law practice and involved in City Council, and before I knew it, my older daughter was in fifth grade. I decided then and there that it was "now or never," and my sister, several other coaches, and I banded together to create the Medford chapter, and we've been doing it ever since.
Girls on the Run is similar to Girl Scouts in that each week kicks off with a lesson about a virtue such as compassion, friendship, sticking up for others, moderation, and how to embrace a healthy lifestyle. We meet for two hours twice a week, do a fun lesson, participate in warm-up stretches and exercises, and then go for a 10-20 minute run. The goal is to prepare the girls to run a 5k, which many have never done before. It's incredible to see them accomplish their goal over the ten weeks we are together. They feel so empowered, and their self-esteem flourishes. I've noticed the difference in my two daughters alone, never mind the 100 other girls we've coached. You can see how strong they feel and that they've learned they can do it by placing mind over matter. It's an exceptional program, and we'll be picking it up again in the Fall.
Photo Credits: Girls on the Run logo; Breanna Lungo-Koehn and her daughter Bayley Koehn complete a road race (courtesy of Breanna Lungo-Koehn); Colleen's Ice Cream Parlor (via Facebook). Portrait of BLK (below, courtesy of Breanna Lungo-Koehn).
It was no small feat leading the city through the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that we're emerging, what excites you the most for yourself, your family, and the city?
It's been a tough 18 months of COVID, but we're getting through it. What I am excited about now is the sun shining, people getting vaccinated, removing masks, and our kids and everyone being able to see people's faces. We can hug again! We don't have to talk to people from 6 feet away! People are gathering again at graduations and events with such excitement, especially kids.
For Medford, I'm looking forward to all the upcoming city events. The Medford Business Association will host Oktoberfest again in Medford Square, and the Medford Arts Council recently hosted the West Medford Open Studios a few weeks ago. Live music has returned to the Medford Farmers Market. Road races and fun runs are coming back. It's just lovely to finally return to gathering together as a community and wish people well without worry.
What makes Medford, Medford, for you? What do you love about living here?
Medford is a fantastic, lively community filled with amazing people. From the community organizations like the Coalition for Arts, Culture, and a Healthy Economy (CACHE) to the people who volunteer placing food in the pantries across the city, we have people committed to doing good and moving the city forward. More and more people are getting involved and staying up-to-date on what's going on, and in turn, offering to help and be agents of change.
Medford holds a rich history, and our diversity is second to none. We're continually working toward becoming a more inclusive and welcoming community. We've established a Welcoming Committee and designed a "Welcome to Medford" website that highlights ways to stay in touch with city alerts, a list of recreational options, and a FAQ section to help you navigate city services. Medford is a beautiful place with natural amenities such as Wright's Pond, the Medford Boat Club, the Middlesex Fells, and plenty of playgrounds and green space for families to enjoy. From one side of Medford to the other, there are so many beautiful areas in between. No matter how long they've lived here, I encourage everyone to check out the: Welcome to Medford website and learn about what makes Medford a place to love the way you live.
On behalf of all of the Medford community, we need to ask: Where is Captain Barry Clemente of the Medford Police Department and his informational messages? When is Barry coming back?
Barry is back and better than ever! People think we got rid of Barry, or that he retired, but, in truth he never left! When we seized the opportunity to convert to a new reverse 911 system, we not only saved $20,000 a year, we revamped how we communicate within the Medford community. The city's communication director, Jackie Piques, leads city-side messaging, for instance, water main breaks, trash delays, and construction detours. You'll hear my voice when the information is COVID-19-related, and Captain Barry's messages are strictly police-related now. Our new 911 system enables Captain Barry to send targeted-neighborhood messages to alert residents if there is a safety issue in their specific Medford neighborhood. Now, when you hear Captain Barry, you'll know it's a safety matter. We knew we couldn't keep him away from the community! Medford loves Captain Barry!
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