While 2020 brought more than its share of change and obstacles for the residents of northern Rhode Island, we have to admit: the news wasn’t always all bad.
Resilient and caring locals found ways to adjust their routines, watch out for their neighbors, celebrate rights of passage and even keep themselves entertained, amid restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of a global pandemic.
The photographs chosen below are our picks to exemplify a difficult year, both taken by our team of reporters, and shared with us by readers.
Sherry McGahan, longtime assistant to the superintendent for the North Smithfield School District, seated, listens to School Committee member Christine Charest at a ceremony celebrating her retirement at Bella Restaurant.
Twin Skin, a business started in 2019 by North Smithfield High School students and twin sisters Kate and Kristianna Lapierre, was named a 2020 Inno on Fire by Rhode Island Inno in February.
North Smithfield Police Chief Tim Lafferty is sworn in and pinned by his wife Debra Lafferty, while family, members of the department and town officials watch on, during a ceremony March 2. Credit: Sandy Seoane
Kept separate from her students due to COVID-19, Amy Kraus, a science, social studies and math teacher at North Smithfield Elementary School, spent more than three hours driving to the homes of each of her 43 students to put up signs on their front lawns. Pictured, NSES 3rd-grader Chase Arsenault stands with the sign the teacher left at his house in April. Credit: Melissa Arsenault
Emma Grant and Alyssa Naradowy welcome customers back to The Village Haven after the restaurant closed for several months in hopes to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The restaurant was one of several in town to take part in an effort in May to provide meals for staff at Landmark Medical Center.
In May, school officials surprised members of the graduating class with signs proclaiming them “Senior Strong.” Pictured, North Smithfield 2020 senior Nicole Connell shows how she feels about her surprise lawn sign.
Family of North Smithfield High School 2020 senior Matthew Bergeron watches as a parade of graduates approaches in June. Credit: Terry Harvey
A drive-in commencement was held at North Smithfield High School in June. Credit: Sandy Seoane
A temporary art installation on Great Road in June showed local support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Businesses offering outdoor activities saw a surge of customers in July, as restless locals searched for safe ways to keep themselves entertained. Pictured, Bob and Josh Goodwin of Goodwin Brothers Farm stood ready to welcome blueberry pickers. Credit: K. Iacobbo
Entertainers had found new means to reach their audiences by July, and a feature on NRI NOW highlighted North Smithfield native Stefan Couture’s weekly “Virtual Campfires.”
A structure building contest put on by the North Smithfield Parks & Recreation Department in August gave residents a creative way to channel restless energy. Christian Lombardi was awarded the prize for, “most creative,” and “best use of materials,” after building two bridges in the woods behind his house using rocks, discarded wood and tree branches.
North Smithfield native Genesis Johnson – who has since become a contributor for NRI NOW – appeared on a CBS program in August after a video of her and her friends performing the Broadway play Wicked went viral. Wicked star Kristin Chenoweth made an appearance on the program, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer.
Members of the North Smithfield Land Trust celebrated gaining public access to Booth Pond, a 40-acre forest behind Dowling Village, in September. Credit: Sandy Seoane
A contest dubbed “Pumpkin People of North Smithfield,” aimed to cheer up residents as local festivals were cancelled in October, and saw players from the North Smithfield Middle School girls soccer team creating festive displays for residents at Saint Antoine.
Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski and wife Norine Zwolenski watched at Gator’s Pub with masks, and a small group of friends, as November’s election results came in. Credit: Sandy Seoane
The office building of the former Stamina Mill, an eyesore on School Street, was finally demolished in December.
Town officials joined Santa Claus in December, waving to residents from the Town Hall gazebo. From left to right are Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski, Town Councilor Kimberly Alves, Santa and his Elf Kate Pasquariello, Councilor Paul Vadenais, Parks and Recreation Chairman Tony Guertin and Town Council President John Beauregard. Credit: Genesis Johnson