Photos by Gabe Stern
By Gabe Stern
Hometown Weekly Intern
The scene was a bit hectic on the Senior Center lawn five minutes before “The Bubble Man” was scheduled to entertain young Westwood families last Monday, July 10.Kids ranging from ages 3-5 could be seen weaving through the many chairs and blankets that crowded the lawn, enjoying a game of tag or running with their friends. Some of the older kids in attendance, approaching seven or eight years of age, could be seen throwing a football with a parent or getting in line to buy ice cream. The youngest audience members, many of them not able to walk yet, sat in front of the gazebo on blankets with their parents. This all contributed to a chaotic energy that filled the scene, creating a collective buzz that could be heard from several blocks down the road.
As soon as Roland Coutu, also known as “The Bubble Man” came to the center of the lawn, it would be reasonable to predict that the scene would mellow out considerably.
This would be an incorrect prediction.
Kids immediately circled around Coutu as bubbles flew out of a machine sitting beside him. Before he started his performance, The Bubble Man went over three rules: don’t run over each other, stay near the blankets, and have fun. As soon as he was done with logistics, music started playing from nearby speakers and kids ran in a frenzy to pop as many bubbles as they could.
Throughout his 60 minute appearance, The Bubble Man led his young audience in dancing, limbo, and hula-hooping. Although these events were the main attraction of the evening, many families sat at the other end of the lawn, playing games of their own with their young children.
The informal tone of the evening made the scene look not so much like an event organized by the town as it did an impressive block party or birthday celebration.“I really think that it brings the community together as a whole,” said Shawna Drew, a Westwood town employee and the main organizer of the event. “It’s good for the community [when] people get to know each other and hang out and spend time together.”
In attendance were several local organizations including Friends of the Westwood Library, who gave out free children’s books to those in attendance, and the Westwood Young Women’s Club, who sponsored the event. Both organizations are heavily involved within the town community and attend as many local events as they can.
“Oh, I think it’s fabulous for the community to have these [performers],” said Louise Donovan, a representative from the Friends of Westwood Library. “Every summer they have these. So there have been three of these concerts and we try to come to each one.”
Kim Chase, the President of the Westwood Young Women’s Club emphasized the importance of having events that kids can enjoy. “The summer is not as busy with other events, so it’s a great way for everyone to see each other … we try to choose people who are going to come and be kid-friendly.”
The Bubble Man, who is no stranger to the Westwood community, took a moment to reflect on his performance after his 60 minutes were up. When asked what the most rewarding part about working with children was, he didn’t hesitate in his answer. “[When] the kids are happy like that,” he said as he looked at some of the older children who stayed past the end of the show. Many were still running around the lawn or playing with the leftover hula hoops that had not been cleaned up yet.
“[That’s when] you know you’ve done your job”