A visibly emotional Thomas M. Menino fought back tears today as he cut the ribbon on a new playground named for him in Charlestown and reflected on the twilight of his two-decade reign as mayor of Boston.
“It’s a day before Election Day, the eve of a new mayor being elected, and I’ve been mayor for 20 years,” he said, speaking slowly and quietly. “I have a lot of thoughts about this city, and I just want to make sure the city moves forward. It’s just a tough day, a tough day.”
Menino was surrounded by children in wheelchairs, City Hall aides, and corporate chieftains as he presided over the opening of Thomas M. Menino Park, a colorful playground outside Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital that was designed to be accessible to children with special needs.
Listening to the joyful shrieks of boys and girls playing on the swings behind him, Menino paused during the ceremony. “That’s music,” he said.
“That’s what’s its about – the young people,” he added. “And that’s what my whole career has been about.”
Menino pointed out that he spent several weeks at Spaulding late last year as he recovered from a battery of ailments, including a compression fracture in his vertebrae, an infection, and Type 2 diabetes. Among those in the audience was Menino’s nurse at Spaulding.
“So I know this place pretty well,” the mayor said. “And I see the miracles that are performed here every day. And when I saw this land available I said, ‘Wow. I always wanted to do a playground like this.’ And it’s happening now.”
Menino has carefully avoided wading into the race to replace him. He has not said if he will vote Tuesday for either Councilor at Large John R. Connolly or state Representative Martin J. Walsh. The choice of a new mayor, he said, is not his to make.
“The case been made,” he said. “Now, it’s the voters’ turn.”Michael Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.