Our Biggest LRC Tournament Yet
Grand Prize Winner Katrina Dukette!

Grand Prize Winner Katrina Dukette!

Well that was fun. Our January Left Right Center Tournament at The Elks was the biggest yet. We had players from as far away as central New York vying for the big money prizes. Nearly 220 players made the bar busy and the function room cozy.  50/50 helped raise $1250 for The Elks Scholarship Fund!

Thanks to Brittany, Emily, and The Elks at Bass Rocks, DJ Scottie Mac for keeping the crowd entertained, Pier 23 Kitchen for the food, Audrey’s Flower Shop for the bouquet, Sunny Variety for the scratch tickets, Referee Rob Shea, Bridge associates Leneai Stuart and Caroline McBride, the Good Doctor Meredith Lockwood, and all of our players. Our next tournament should be sometime in April. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to the 3rd Annual Bridge Ball on Saturday, March 3rd at – where else – the Elks. Reserve your spots now: http://bit.ly/2AZFlU0

To find out about future Bridge events, sign up for our newsletter at BridgeCapeAnn.com and follow our social media outlets. A list of the night’s winners is below. Bear with us on the name spellings. It’s chaos on the floor.

Round 1 Winners: Nick Curcuru, Marie Clayton, Brandi Bonds, Katrina Dukette, Alison Aiello, Andrew Murphy, Teresa Sadowski, Lesley Exama, John Penaloza, Sean Reardon, Jessica Quinn, Dale DeLuca, Eric Giordano, Barbara Halliday, Alana Horne, Brenda Leahy, Bob Cloutman, Elizabeth Osier, Rick White, Glenn Chesley, Leanne Merenda

Round 2 Winners: Loretta C., Kendall St. Peter, Peter Lane, Jamie Lane, Patrick Towns, Paula Foster, Maureen Cressey, Heather Dagle, Liz Sousa, Ed Muzio, Nick “The Greek”, Jolene Cary, Mandy Marino, Greg Potsner, Steve Bowles, Sara Roberts, Michelle Conklin, Darren Taylor, Nick DeCoste, Rachel Jackson, Kenny Stewart

Round 3 Winners: Kathleen Claypool, Alycia Gossom, Kathy Lundy, Marie Strauss, Dawn Carpenter, Jay Summerlin, Will Farley, Mike Camarro, Kathy O’Donnell, Jann Sonia, Lorenzo Burnham, Steve Sadowski, Craig Jonus, Heidi Fiahlo, Nick Scola, Eric MacWhinnie, Jackie Medico, John Hughes, Cathy Lawson, Michelle Burke

Final Results:

1st Place: Katrina Dukette ($600)

2nd Place: Greg Potsner ($400)

3rd Place: Jann Sonia ($200)

Audrey’s Bouquet & 50 Scratch Tickets Winner: Linda from Wilmington

Elks 50/50 Winner: Ana from Rye, New Hampshire

How things vibe out at Bridge events...

How things vibe out at Bridge events...

5 Tips on Playing Win-It Wednesday
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Week after week, hundreds of Cape Ann residents participate in Win-It Wednesday on the Bridge Cape Ann Facebook page. We've had over 500 Win-It giveaways, reached more than one million people, and given away over $500,000 in prizes to 10,000+ winners! Thank you for being so supportive of local businesses and The Bridge! There aren’t any hidden secrets or complicated strategies to winning but there are a few tips we can share that will help you become a winnah. Because of Facebook's regulations,  the rules for WIW are no longer listed in the caption. Here's a quick refresher:

How to Play Win-It Wednesday:

- LIKE the Bridge Cape Ann Facebook page
- TELL US which prizes you want in the comment field
- TAG friends and family who you think would also like to play in the comment field
- SHARE the post

Winners are revealed in a video every Thursday evening on Facebook and our website, BridgeCapeAnn.com. (FYI: Everything you see on the Bridge Cape Ann Facebook page - from our videos to events to WIW drawings - appears first on BridgeCapeAnn.com. So if you dig what we do, please bookmark our site, too. Finally, winners must claim their prizes by VISITING or CONTACTING the business by Sunday night. If they don't, the prizes expire (although most businesses are happy to bend that rule). Then we do it all over again the following Wednesday.

Now that we got the rules out of the way, here are some tips on playing Win-It Wednesday!


1. Be SpecifiC when choosing your prizes

Saying “All” works but narrowing is very helpful. If you really need a car wash, pick the number for Maplewood Car Wash. We break down the comments based on keywords, which could be a number or one of the categories. We recommend choosing a handful of specific prizes each time you play. 


2. mix up your selections each week

WIW is about exploring Cape Ann, trying places you haven’t tried before, and supporting the local economy. Our Bridge Buddies (the small businesses that are awarding these prizes) LOVE seeing new faces. Let us help you discover them! Besides, if you play regularly, chances are you'll win multiple times. That's a Bridge guarantee ;)


3. Claim Your Prize!

We understand that some people feel uneasy using coupons, gift cards, or claiming prizes, but business owners WANT you to use them! That's why they're offering. Make sure you ask for a prize you can claim by Sunday night. If you are unable, please contact them and explain the situation. (Most Bridge Buddies extend deadlines for those who reach out.) For those who play regularly and always claim their prize, you are noticed and we thank you!


4. Look Out for Special “Code” Words in the Caption

This isn’t as secretive as it sounds. Sometimes we offer special prizes from new Bridge members or local events. These are mentioned at the top of the prize list. Sometimes waiting for a newer prize to go a couple weeks before asking for it gives you a better chance on winning once the “new” feeling wears off. 


5. Thank Your Local Small Businesses

They participate each week and deserve our gratitude. We couldn't do this without them. Our Bridge Buddies rave about WIW (future blog post!) because you're visiting them, sharing your experiences, and becoming repeat customers. WIW gets bigger and better every year. So keep your eyes open for our weekly post with the amazing local photograph and let's have some fun!


Thanks for playing & good luck! 

Kory CurcuruComment
Looking Back, Looking Ahead

We want to thank everyone who made 2017 our best year yet at The Bridge. The love, support and encouragement we’ve received since our launch in 2012 continues to push us to new heights and work harder to better connect you to the people, uniqueness and beauty of Cape Ann. We worked with nearly 200 Cape Ann businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community groups, and look forward to adding more Bridge Buddies in 2018!

Most folks find and follow The Bridge through Facebook; our videos and Win-It Wednesday giveaways nearly doubled our audience in 2017. Seriously, Win-It Wednesday has taken on a life of its own. We’re routinely giving away more than 50 prizes a week, which means more than 50 winners are discovering or revisiting local businesses around the clock. We want our videos to be “virtual icebreakers” and help acquaint you with the business owners and community leaders that make Cape Ann so special. We’re also happy to say our followings on Instagram, and Twitter grew exponentially, not to mention our hub of all Bridge activity – BridgeCapeAnn.com. Take a look if you haven’t already.

Truth be told, we really want people to equate The Bridge Cape Ann with fun, so we can’t wait to party with you in 2018. We’re adding new events to our calendar all the time. Our Left Right Center tournaments at The Elks have been a sweet surprise. (The next one is January 27th – RSVP now!) Then there’s the formal Bridge Ball on March 3rd (come hang out on the red carpet!) and of course, the family-friendly Strawberry & Fall festivals at Mile Marker (let’s hope we can match the weather from last year).

Keep your eyes open for more events at our favorite venues, like a Kentucky Derby Party at Riversbend! We have a few new venues and surprises, too, that we’ll share shortly…

Thanks again, everyone! As always, we’re easy to find and open to suggestions. See you in the neighborhood!

October Left Right Center Packs 'em In

We put a bow on our fourth Left Right Center Tournament of 2017 at The Elks on October 27th. Folks from as far as Worcester, Cape Cod, and New Hampshire made the trip and fought for parking spots during the Elks’ notoriously popular Meat Raffle! More than 190 players participated and we’re happy to announce that the 50/50 helped raise a ton of $$$ for The Elks Scholarship Fund!

Thanks to Emily Douglass and everyone at The Elks at Bass Rocks, DJ John Budrow for the tunes, Salty Frank’s Dogs for the grub, Celia’s Flower Studio for the bouquet, Referee Rob Shea, Bridge associate Leneai Stuart, the Good Doctor Meredith Lockwood, and all of our players. Next tournament is Saturday, January 27th, 2018 at The Elks. Reserve your spot here: http://bit.ly/2yibh8J

To find out about future Bridge events, sign up for our newsletter at BridgeCapeAnn.com. A list of the night’s winners is below. Bear with us on the name spellings. It gets awfully confusing on the floor.

Round 1 Winners: Paula Foster, Corey Rabeau, Rita Budrow, Christine Mosher, Sandy Johnson, Janey Brancleone, Don Femm, Sydney Giordano, Elery LeBlanc, Mandy Marino, Mary Hubbard, Kristen Nicastro, Manny Nunes, Bob Murphy, Don Muniz, Mark Sylvain, Jamie Ferris, Nancy More

Round 2 Winners: Darlene Laffey, Kelly Brancleone, Nancy Kavanaugh, Amanda Michaels, Jacquelyn Rose, Carol Pratt, Rose LoPiccolo, Joanna Brancleone, Anne Porter, Karen Comeau, Tim Conklin, Kristie Muise, Beth Lanigan, Kathy Rowe, Liz Sousa, Barbara Cornell, Jay J Joyce, Nick Ciuluffo

Round 3 Winners: Heather Steadman, Arthur DiPaolo, Jamie Margiotta, Lisa Marino, Chris Phillips, Bob Orlando, Christine Leveille, Jack Kelley, Patricia Smith, Patty Hodgkins, Julie LaRocque, Anthony Giordano, Macny Sousa, Danielle Prat, Maria Davis, Jodi Cunningham, Jeannie Flaherty, Helder Silva

Final Results:

1st Place: Nancy More

2nd Place: Beth Lanigan

3rd Place: Julie LaRocque

Celia’s Flower Studio Raffle Winner: Tim Dudeman

Elks 50/50 Winner: Mandy Marino

5 Free Things at Fall Fest

This year we are happy to be celebrating five years in business and our 5th Annual Fall Fest! Over 40 vendors are joining us on October 7th at Mile Marker One to enjoy the Fall weather and have some fun. Our vendors will have goods and services to purchase, discounts to enjoy, and stories to share. The great thing about Fall Fest is that the event is 100% FREE to park and attend. In addition to enjoying great live music and in celebration of our 5th year hosting Fall Fest we are sharing five awesome free things you can do at this great community event. 

1. Vehicles to Explore


Part of our kids zone features a police ATV, firetruck, monster Camaro and quad, and possibly even a Coast Guard boat for kids to explore and take pictures with. 


2. Play with Puppies!


Cape Ann Animal Aid is bringing energetic and loving puppies for everyone to play with! You can pet and cuddle these puppies as much as you want while you’re there, what’s better than that?! Even more exciting, if you feel an attachment to one (or all, lets be real) they are all adoptable and can be taken home within a few days!


3. Stein Hoisting Competition 


The challenge is to hold a beer mug filled to the very top with water straight out in front of you longer than the other competitors without spilling a drop. If you can do that, you’ll be taking home the satisfaction of victory and a prize from Sam Adams. 


4. Meet the Alpacas


Angie’s Alpacas live on Marshall’s Farm and will be at Fall Fest for everyone to meet and greet! They are adorable and unusual animals that everyone is sure to love. If you have a quarter you can feed them some treats out of the palm of your hand! 


5. Snakes!


If we have nice weather this year The Vernal Pond Team will be there with some of their snakes and reptiles. You can pet and even hold the snakes if you’re feeling up for it. Make sure to tag us in your photos from the event on Facebook and Instagram! 


Hope to see you at Mile Marker One on Saturday, October 7th from 11-4pm! 

Summertime LRC hits the Jackpot

We had a lot of fun at The Elks on Friday July 28 for our third Left Right Center Tournament of 2017. More than 140 players participated in a few hours of chaotic fun. We’re happy to announce that we helped raise over $800 for The Elks Scholarship Fund!

Cheers to our Bridge Buddies for donating raffle prizes: O’Neil Fitness, Create & Escape, R&B Carpet Cleaning, Sand to City Style, Tom’s Auto Center, Seaview Farm & Farm Stand, Marshall’s Farm Stand, Brooke Sanidas: Avon Rising Stars, Design of Mine, Pier 23 Kitchen & Celia’s Flower Studio.

Thanks to The Elks, DJ John Budrow, Salty Frank’s Dogs, Referee Rob Shea, Bridge associate Leneai Stuart, Jaime (Jameson) Jasko, the Good Doctor Meredith Lockwood, and everyone who made the trip. We’ll try to have one more tournament before the end of the year. Sign up for our newsletter at BridgeCapeAnn.com to find out first about future Bridge events. A list of the night’s winners is below. Please forgive us on the name spellings. It gets awfully confusing on the floor.

Round 1 Winners:

Eva Cloutman, Karen Burbine, Alicia Vargus, Tom Manuel, Ed Muzio, Laurie Francis, Nick Dukette, Sam Giordano, Sarah Hammond, Brittany Peterson, Billy Terry, Cathy Lawson, Catherine Barry, Angela Szuter

Round 2 Winners:

Gale Whitney, Paula Foster, Scott Williams, David Woundy, Shannon Smith, Chris Lyon, Charlie Magliotti, Betsy Sitoski, Jeff Budrow, Debbie Orlando, Julie Lopes, Jaime Jasko, Misty McGrath, Phyllis Cunningham

Round 3 Winners:

Kelly Rizzo, Donna DeWitt, Jane Mulloy, Rita Budrow, Lisa Jonas, Jen Wilson, Dean Horne, Tim Collins, Brenda Leahy, Beth White, Rochelle Williams, Chris Davis, Kathy Rowe, Joey Ciaramitaro

Final Results

1st Place: Angela Szuter

2nd Place: Debbie Orlando

3rd Place: Beth White

Thanks for Being Horrible

Everyone loves a parade, so on July 3rd we loaded up the BridgeMobile with a mountain of candy and took it to the free streets of America’s First Seaport.

Disco Dean Horne, aka The Plow Guy, was once again behind the wheel with his head on a swivel. Navigating a parade route with truck and trailer is tough work. Not only do you have to pace yourself between the float or band in front of and behind you, but there’s always a chance that a kid will dart in front of the tires to save a pack of Smarties, or a tipsy friend will bob over for a high-five and a Jello shot. We learned our lesson after our first Horribles Parade, when we threw hundreds of Frisbees and beach balls all over the Boulevard. It was Beatlemania.

Our purpose was to have fun and promote our members (Cape Ann businesses that we call Bridge Buddies). We created The Great Bridge Cape Ann Giveaway, handing out 3000 individually numbered cards to folks prompting them to enroll in our weekly newsletter. In a subsequent newsletter, we'll post the winning numbers matched with donated prized. In total, Bridge Buddies offered more than $32,000 in savings, goods, and services. Amazing.

We were on a mission - heat and humidity be damned - that couldn’t be accomplished without some hired guns. Two Bridge Buddies came along: Carole McNair of the Azorean hula-hooped all the livelong day, and Brooke Sanidas of Avon Rising Stars may have handed out more cards and candy than anyone else. Since when did kids bring Trick or Treat bags to a parade?

Bridge associate Leneai Stuart and her beau, Jaime Jasko, took photos along the parade route of people holding empty picture frames before themselves (look for the album on Facebook soon).

Rob Shea, last seen refereeing our Left Right Center Tournament in April (next one is Fri July 28 at The Elks, RSVP here: http://bit.ly/2uCEoy3 ), lead the cheerleading charge and somehow managed to keep two giant coolers from staying full.

Brian Watson was the happiest of bearded Angry Birds and provided kids the opportunity to be equally scared and excited to have their picture taken with a cartoon character.

All Eric Giordano wanted to do was laze in the trailer lounge with a beverage, but he too caught the parade bug and walked the entire route dishing out Skittles and Sour Patch Kids. Eric was so impressed that he’ll be walking next year’s St. Peter’s parade in his Fiesta all-whites.

Their help made for a great event. The Bridge wouldn’t be The Bridge without them.

We want to thank the Fishtown Horribles Parade organizers, the Tucker family and all the judges, volunteers, and participants for another spectacular event. See ya next year!

Oh, my job was to live broadcast everything. Click here for a birdseye view from the BridgeMobile: http://bit.ly/2u3xkxL

Another Sweet Strawberry Festival

Where to begin? The 4th Annual Strawberry Festival at Mile Marker One on June 10, 2017 was out best yet. The weather was perfect, the parking lots were filled, and thousands of people enjoyed the shopping and oversized Kids Zone. We’ll do it again on Saturday, October 7th for the 5th Annual Fall Fest. How ‘bout a shout out for everyone who helped kick off the summer:

Cape Ann’s Marina Resort remains the perfect host. Great staff from the coordinators to the lot attendants to the servers. Cheers to you, Tobin, Joe, Elyse, Rebecca, and everyone else at 75 Essex Ave!

Marshall’s Farmstand anchored the vendors tent once again with fresh local produce (and gigantic strawberries!). The alpacas were a favorite feature, even in the hot sun. Go help the Marshalls celebrate 50 years of business at Concord Street in West Gloucester all summah long.

The Kids Zone was hopping with bluegrass from Pat Conlon, Fran Clark, and Barry Michaud. Thanks to Prime Time Party Zone for the bouncy houses, Cape Ann Animal Aid for the adoptable puppies, Erin Pequeno for face painting, Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team for the sssnakes, Hunters Haven Farm for the ponies, and the Gloucester Police Department for their hummer and ATV. We promise to keep adding more fun features!

We must thank Beauport Gloucester for allowing us to use the far end parking lot. It would be impossible to accommodate festival goers without Beauport’s generosity. Sheree and company come through for us every time, and we’re forever grateful.

It’s a long day for our Bridge Buddies and vendors, and we don’t consider the event a success unless they say so. Thank you Bella & Harvey, The Fudgery, Premier Imprints, Foster’s Grill Store, Phia Women’s Center, Maplewood Car Wash, Cape Ann Power Yoga, Cazeault Solar & Home, Haley Allison of Bare Cheek Beauty, Seaview Farm & Farm Stand, Annette Dion, Studio Crepe (whatta presidential performance!), Atlantic Vacation Homes, Sea Meadow Gifts & Gardens, Saltwater Massage Studio, Cape Ann Lanes, Common Crow Natural Market, Avon Rising Stars, Just 4 Fun, O’Neil Fitness, Michael Whitehead, Katie Elwell of LuLaRoe, Rachel Lavallee of Lavender & Frank, Jessie Nocella, Shane Montoni of Under the Porch Creations, The Open Door, Jodie Malatzky of Tupperware, Lisa Dyke of Sydney’s Jewels & Gems, Erin Pequeno Art & Design, Patty Wall and Wendy Minton of Create & Escape, Michelle Welch of Thirty One and Outdoor Photos by Kadee’s Mom, Nicole Johnson of It’s All in the Bag, Ryan & Wood Distilleries, Sara Lovegreen of Holly C & Co Fine Homes, Ma & Pa’s Pickles, Rebecca Carson of Mary Kay, and the Heyer Family.

Special thanks to Bridge associate Leneai Stuart, photographer Meredith Cooney, Bridge tent staff Rob Shea (and the twins!), Gus & Jessica Margiotta, Brian Watson, and as always, the good Doctor Meredith Lockwood. See ya at Fall Fest :)

The Bridge Turns 5

Did you buy us something wooden? Five years ago today, the first Bridge website, OvaTheBridge.com launched. Months earlier we established the company and our Facebook page, but we made June 1, 2012 our de facto birthdate since everything revolved around the site, where we (and our members) were literally uploading videos around the clock.

Ten thousand videos and countless events later our mission hasn’t changed. But like any startup, we tripped, evolved, scratched, adapted – and made it. It hasn’t been easy, and won’t get any easier, but now we’re prepared for new challenges.

An absurd percentage of small businesses fail in their infancy. Few survive the first two years, especially tiny businesses without employees. We were shocked to learn that it’s normal practice for a business owner to not pay her or himself for the first two or three years! “Five years,” we were told. “You have to stick around for five years before you enter the public consciousness.” That’s when people look for the open sign on your storefront, recognize your logo, and have expectations.

Having never run a business before, we were told by dozens of fellow small business owners, as well as countless friends, family and supporters, to do our best to stay the course. It didn’t take long to realize the cards are stacked against small business owners, especially in this day and age. Creating something from nothing – like cash flow – ain’t easy. We absorbed all the encouraging words and cautionary tales. Still do.

There were times we thought of packing it in, but honestly, failing wasn’t an option. We kept chipping away just to get established. We crossed that threshold. We became legit.

We’re not bragging. In fact, we’re extremely humbled. A lot of good friends with solid plans, practices, and genius ideas have lost their businesses since we began. The line between success and failure is paper thin. All it takes is one bad season, a divorce, a pregnancy, an illness, an asshole landlord, and everything you worked for is gone forever. Goodbye dream. Goodbye bank account.

So, we aren’t taking this anniversary lightly. We’re celebrating. We’re proud of our work and reputation, blessed with our friendships, and indebted to your support over the years. The list of folks who helped us get here is incredibly long. Maybe someday we’ll make the time and space to acknowledge each and every one. If we start that list today, perhaps we’ll finish by Year Ten. That’s seems like a good goal. Plus, it’ll give you time to look for something metallic.

Back to work.

Let's Play Left Right Center!

We’re having ourselves another Left Right Center Tournament on Friday, April 21 at The Elks. The first LRC Tournament was a surprising success. It was an inexpensive night out in the middle of winter, conveniently scheduled on a Saturday in late January when the Patriots didn't have a playoff matchup. It sold out fast (there were more attendees than the Bridge Ball!) and afterwards scores of people told us how they couldn't wait for the next one. So here we go.

Why LRC? (For a full explanation and rules, go to the bottom of this article.) For starters, it's a children's dice game that can be learned in 10 seconds. To win, all you need is dumb luck. I don't want to host an event where people can get unnecessarily competitive or weird about money and strategy. 

Figuring out how to run a tournament for hundreds of players and promoting local businesses was a challenge, but we solved that a couple different ways. We were also able to help The Elks raise $1000 towards their various scholarship funds and other community outreach efforts.

The Elks is a great place to hold the event, too. It sits atop Bass Rocks in Gloucester's Back Shore and offers awesome views. They've got a very roomy parking which is a big help since we get a lot of players from outside Cape Ann. There were a ton of folks from New Hampshire, I believe. The Elks also has great bartenders and extremely accommodating members. Whenever we work with The Elks, everybody wins.

So we're doing it again, as it happens, right after tax season closes (wink, wink). Round up your friends and reserve your spots now. It's frantic, fun and friendly. Make sure to follow The Bridge Cape Ann because we may add a fun wrinkle or two.

And yes, I know the official name of the game is Left Center Right, not Left Right Center but… Left Right Center sounds better. Plus, it makes way more sense. What do you do before crossing a street? You look left, then right, then walk straight ahead. If you looked left, then center, then right, you'd get smacked by a Mack truck, Frogger-style. Anyway, enough of that. Let’s roll some dice!

The Bridge Cape Ann's Left Right Center Tournament is Friday, April 21st at 6:30pm at the Gloucester Elks. RSVP here: http://bit.ly/2nALWx6

How to Play LRC

Each player receives 3 tokens (or coins, bills, scratch tickets, etc.). Players take turns rolling 3 six-sided dice. Each dice is marked with "L", "C", "R" on one side, & a dot on the three remaining sides. For each "L" or "R" thrown, the player must pass one token to the player to the immediate left or right. A "C" means a chip goes the center, or the pot, & stays there until it’s collected by the winner. A dot has no effect.

If you have fewer than three tokens left, you’re still alive but your number of tokens must be equal to the number of dice you roll, rather than rolling all three. If you're out of tokens, your turn is skipped, but here’s where it gets fun. As other players roll Rs or Ls, you may get their tokens & live to roll again. The winner is the last player with chips left & wins the center pot.

Notes from Mexico

The ride never stops. That's what it's like running a small business. When you work for yourself, what you lose in security you gain in freedom. But that also means you gain more responsibility. I welcome that. I love working for myself for 100 reasons: I hate the thought of having a boss, or making someone else's money for them, or living by an alarm clock, or commuting. And I can't live by dreading the next workday or counting down the hours until the weekend or holiday.

I worked for creative content houses in Burbank and Hollywood, CA. Amongst our duties was producing accompanying bonus footage of a film or TV release. In other words, all the extra stuff you get on a DVD (or can stream today) like making-of documentaries and blooper reels. We had a typical client/vendor relationship with dozens of studios. They wanted top-quality service and groundbreaking products at half price in half the time. "Coca-Cola outside the bottle," we'd call it. The studios would change their minds and alter or kill a project at the drop of a hat. Five o'clock Friday was nail biting time as we waited for studios to finally respond to week-old emails and inquiries - just to tell us to start again (without changing the deadline) or scrap everything altogether. Weekend all-nighters were a common occurrence. The soul-sucking grind was not for me.

What's fun about The Bridge is that every day is different and rarely feels like work. It's just me and my recently hired associate, Leneai; a true mom and pop shop similar to the businesses we help market, promote, and network. I'm also a people freak, that is, I actually like them and listen to them. After five years of Bridging, I understand precisely what small business owners are up against, how they're wired, and what motivates them. (Here's a hint - it's not money or sleep.)

But the ride never stops. The business and business model are always evolving. So as I sit under a beachfront cabana at Playa Mujeres in Cancún, I'm thinking of "work". Clients, friends and family admonish me to ditch the to-do list and relax, but what I do is too fun and too necessary to ignore. Friends I represent need as much help and encouragement as I do. Sure, it's a luxury to work by the 80 degree turquoise water of the Gulf with a bucket of beers in the sand, but it's pretty good from the home office in Gloucester, too. Adios for now!

Kory Curcuru Comment
The Curtain Falls on Another Bridge Ball

The Second Bridge Ball is in the books and we couldn’t be happier with how the night transpired. The turnout was great (despite the below-zero wind chill), everyone looked stunning, the bartenders were busy and the dance floor was hopping. If you missed it, we have the entire night captured in our live broadcasts on our Facebook page.

There are a lot of components to a formal event like the Bridge Ball, and many people to thank for helping it run so smoothly. Thank you Taylor Matties and The Elks’ staff for all your hard work. Thanks to DJ Scottie Mac for commanding the room and keeping people moving til midnight. Thanks to Jessica Lynn Photography for creating a true red carpet experience, and to Alessia LoGrasso for squeezing between everyone to snap additional photos.

Thanks to Celia’s Flower Studio and Audrey’s Flower Shop for the gorgeous centerpieces – people raved all night - and to Caitlin Pszenny for tirelessly coordinating the catering.

Speaking of caterers, the food spread was awesome. Three cheers to Azorean Restaurant, Salty Frank’s Dogs, Lat 43, Magnolia 525 Tavern, Yellow Sub Shop, Classic Cooks, Cape Ann Lanes, Cake Ann, and Every Little Breeze Catering.

Our Bridge Buddies stepped up again with contributions to the gift bags for all attendees: Sand to City Style, Foster’s Grill Store, Coastal Windows & Exteriors, Manchester Athletic Club, Essex Bird Shop & Pet Supply, Maplewood Car Wash, Emory Vodka, Salty Frank's Dogs, Cazeault Solar & Home, Premier Imprints, Bare Cheek Beauty, Yellow Sub Shop, Lisa Ann Schraffa Santin Stylist, and Tuck's Candy & Gifts.

 Finally, there’s the Bridge staff and volunteers. No one dealt with the cold more than our doormen, Rob Shea and Brian Watson. Special thanks to Leneai Stuart (actual Bridge staff!), Jamie Jasko and Alana Horne for your hard work before, during and after the event. And as always, by my side is the good Doctor Lockwood who had to hear about the Second Bridge Ball about an hour after the First Bridge Ball ended. I promise I won’t mention the Third Bridge Ball for at least a week.

Who am I kidding? Pencil in March 3, 2018. That should give everyone plenty of time to pick out something sparkly. Cheers! Can’t wait to do it all again.

Bridge Ball: The Wonder of it All

Time for our most talked-about event - our annual Bridge Ball. We return to The Elks at Bass Rocks on Saturday, March 4th. (We're tight with The Elks!) The first Ball was a hit and the accompanying live broadcast was the most-watched in our history. For our first formal shindig, hundreds of people got all dolled up, walked the red carpet, and partied politely into the wee hours. 

Funny story how it all came about: Linda Vega of the now defunct Linda Bella Boutique pitched an adult prom concept. The idea was to have an event outside of summer and wedding season which could include all of the Bridge members who are normally busy that time of year - salons, makeup artists, florists, etc. We worked very closely with Caitlin Pszenny (née Kreitman) and Jessica Lynn Photography, and pulled everything together in 3 weeks. It sold out. It was nuts.

The adult prom theme quickly turned into a wedding reception - though we did crown a Queen & King. People were loving the Oscar-style photos, elaborate centerpieces created by our members and DJ Scottie Mac, but most of all they enjoyed getting dressed to the nines in the dead of winter for no good reason. Attending the Bridge Ball was like going to a wedding without the ceremony or having to bring a gift. We can't wait to do it again. 

You can reserve your spot here: http://bit.ly/2lpsAgB or follow our Facebook event page for info here: http://bit.ly/2lpHMuT

Bridge 3.0

Like our new digs? This is our third website in 4½ years, and I’m excited because it feels like a truer representation of who we are and what we’re all about.

The idea for The Bridge site seems simple; There are my anchorman-style daily updates, and thousands of videos, photos, and calendar events promoting Cape Ann. But creating a website that showcases and explains all the components of The Bridge has been a struggle. I’m not a programmer nor tech savvy, and we’ve never had a web developer on hand to create on the fly or deal with glitches and security flaws. It’s a pain – especially when you must rely on a third party to create and curate your public showpiece. To better explain, let’s backtrack a bit.

We launched our first site, a beta test site called OvaTheBridge.com, in June of 2012. A developer friend pieced it together in his spare time. Atop the page was my daily updates window. We called it Bridge Headquarters because we were working out my kitchen. Beneath me was a grid of self-produced videos from advertisers and contributors (our “Bridge Buddies”). It was clunky but fun to see familiar faces greeting you with the latest info from their place of business every day. However, as we grew and evolved, the technical problems mounted. We spent too much time putting out fires or teaching Buddies the nuances of the site. We needed something legit.

In the early 2014, with a big hand from The Innovation House in Magnolia (another story for another time), we hired a third party to create BridgeCapeAnn.com. It launched that August and was a giant improvement. It was clean, fully functional, and looked great on mobile devices. Gone was the grid of videos I loved, but we had to make aesthetic sacrifices to optimize the mobile site. Most of our followers were watching on phones and tablets, and we knew that number would only increase. So, we opted for a timeline format with an endless scroll to view content on a single page. A grid of videos icons would look tiny in a timeline, so we said goodbye to a lot of familiar faces, except my round, orangey one.

One huge difference between the two sites: BridgeCapeAnn.com was a singular powerful social media base shared by business owners to reach a larger local audience, not a go-to site to find cool content. Big mistake. I still love the concept: a hyperlocal Facebook-like site built for a community where people could do the same things they were already doing on Facebook or YouTube or Twitter, but the audience would be very localized (and you wouldn’t have to pay to reach them). Nor would you have to compete with hundreds of millions of posts and uploads from around the world. With dozens of Bridge Buddies utilizing one site, their visibility in Cape Ann would increase as would their discoverability online. Instead of seeing signs at every register or storefront saying, “Follow us on Facebook” you would see “Follow us on The Bridge.” This made perfect sense then, and in many ways, it still does. However, there were many factors we didn't realize.

Business owners don’t have the time or personnel to constantly create engaging content. They weren't going to learn how to use a new social media site when they couldn't quantify the return from using the world’s biggest social media platforms. Plus, we couldn't convince them to abandon Facebook and focus on our little site. Half the world (including most of their families, friends, and followers) were already on Facebook. Why leave? Once this sunk in, I turned the focus away from the website, using it mostly to house content, and decided to build a popular Facebook page. I’d do the dirty work, creating and posting content and running contests to build our audience. It worked. Our following tripled.

Still, we’re playing by Facebook’s rules. If Facebook business page owners don’t pay (or “boost”) their posts, Facebook allows only a tiny percentage of their followers see their content. Therefore, it’s critical that The Bridge has an accompanying website of continuously fresh content that is easy to find and share. Behold Bridge 3.0. It’s made for you to enjoy and me to manage without relying on others or technology. My beloved grid of videos is back, too, and looks sweet on mobile.

BridgeCapeAnn.com must simultaneously deliver fun, informative content to you as well as explain how businesses, non-profits, and community groups can participate. No easy task, since most of what we do is offline, like our events, festivals, and seminars. But videos are still our bread and butter. So please, let me know how to make your Bridge experience even better. Extra eyeballs always help.

We’ve come a long way since OvaTheBridge. Spread the word, enjoy the new BridgeCapeAnn, and we’ll see you in the neighborhood soon.

Bridge Members' Hopes for 2017!

"Our family has worked in various locations for over 100 years, but this year is the 50th for our farm stand on Concord Street. We're going to celebrate in a big way with the community, so stay tuned for updates on The Bridge." - Robert Marshall, Marshall's Farm Stand, 144 Concord Street, West Gloucester 

"We're celebrating our 18th year in business in Gloucester, Mass. Looking forward to creating more memorable events with The Bridge's live broadcasts on Facebook in 2017." - Pauline Bresnahan, Pauline's Gifts, 512 Essex Avenue, West Gloucester

"We just opened our retail shop on Commercial Street. We hope to continue to showcase the best of Cape Ann in our store!" - Donna Marshall, Cape Ann Fresh Catch & Cape Ann Fresh Food, 46 Commercial Street, Gloucester

"Hoping to grow my business by staying true to DIVA values: respect, integrity, honesty, kindness, humor and the belief that there is never too much jewelry!" - Donna Soodalter-Toman, DIVA (Donna's Infinite Variety of Adornments), 161 Main Street, Gloucester

"I've chosen three words to guide me forward to more success in 2017. My three words are: Balance, Production, Accountability." - Stephanie Vanderbilt, Coastal Windows & Exteriors

"Here's to health, happiness and continued service to our wonderful community! We Love Cape Ann!" - Kate Noonan, Common Crow Natural Market