BRISTOL â€“ Champions of the arts were applauded Saturday at The New England Carousel Museumâ€™s annual Ace Awards, which recognized Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu and Lori Meusel Eschner.
The ceremony took place in the museumâ€™s dining room, with a harp player and Christmas lighting giving the room itself an artistic air. It was attended by several prominent Bristolites, such as former Mayor and Arts and Culture Commission member Bill Stortz and current council members including Josh Medeiros, David Preleski and Mary Fortier.
Louise DeMars, executive director of the New England Carousel Museum, praised the recipients.
â€śIâ€™m just thrilled for both of our honorees,â€ť she said. â€śWhen we put out a request for nominees, Lori was one of the first people that they mentioned. She is exactly the kind of person we want to honor. Ellen, even before she became mayor, has supported the arts in this community for 20 years.â€ť
Meusel Eschner is a lifelong Bristol resident and Bristol Central graduate. She received a degree in Art Education from Central Connecticut State University and retired this June from Bristol Public Schools after 41 years of teaching art. She was chair of the art department for the last 10 years.
According to the program book for the night â€śLori maintains that her goals were made possible with overwhelming support from her art staff and the Bristol Community. Loriâ€™s strong convictions of respect for others, being a team member, leading by example and her passion for the arts have ensured success for the students and art staff of Bristol.â€ť
â€śLooking back, Iâ€™ve always been someone who pushed the limits and Iâ€™ve never been one to sit still,â€ť said Meusel Eschner. â€śIâ€™m now on the Memorial Boulevard School committee and Iâ€™m hoping to move that project forward to establish an arts magnet school in Bristol. I want to make Bristol stand out in the arts. Over the years, I have always worked side by side with people and never expected anything from someone that I wouldnâ€™t do also.â€ť
Zoppo-Sassu acknowledged that there are â€śa lot of people who have done a lot for the arts in the community.â€ť
â€śI feel strongly that it is the role of government to promote the arts and culture,â€ť she said. â€śThat is why I am also supporting the Memorial Boulevard School project. Years ago, when I was on the City Council, I worked on a group called TEAM (Tourism, Entertainment, Arts and Museums) which sought to connect the dots between our local centers of culture versus having them act as though they were alone, working in silos. I am proud of what I have accomplished in the past and there is a lot of work still to be done looking forward. The Memorial Boulevard School Project will be a catalyst for the rebirth of our downtown.â€ť
Stortz said that both recipients are â€śgood peopleâ€ť and that their recognition is â€śwell deserved.â€ť
â€śLori has been involved for a long time behind the scenes and the mayor has very visibly been promoting the arts,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s a good thing for the city to acknowledge people who are doing good things in the community and there are a lot more good people out there.â€ť
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.