by Joseph Prezioso
The scandaled laid history of the Wynn Casino project seemed to wash away on Sunday as a ribbon cutting and fireworks display officially opened Encore Boston Harbor to the public.
Thousands waited in an endless line to be the first to enter the resort. Visitors arrived by boat, plain, bus, trains and cars to attend the event that’s been talked about for years.
Glenn Reynolds, who arrived 17 hours before the ribbon cutting was excited upon entering the casino after waiting and standing in line with his homemade sign.
“I’m adjusting to certain things, but, it’s just magnificent. I ended up giving my sign to the president, Bob DeSalvio, they did a really great job. I am going to walk around, see what’s going on, check out the Popeye statue and check out the burger bar, I hear they have a 32oz mug,” said Reynolds.
A short ceremony at 9:30 a.m was attended by Everett’s Mayor and Wynn officials, and members of the gaming commission, but absent was Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Governor Baker and other surrounding community members.
Much of the news media and social media anguish about the resort has been focused on the transportation and traffic nightmares that the casino will create. Some have stated they will stay away until things cool down, others think things will work out fine.
“It’s going to be hectic for a while, but then it’s going to be all right,” said Everett resident Mel Cornelison. The casino expects up to 50,000 people on peak days and only host 3,000 parking spaces. They are requesting patrons to take public transportation or use one of their water shuttles of buses. Parking for more then six hours is almost $50.
On opening day, traffic was unseen in the early hours, but by mid day, route 99 could be seen baked up all the way to Saugus. Traffic was not going to stop people attending opening day.
With thousands in line and a bright sun keeping everyone hot, Mayor DeMaria gave a speech thanking his wife, who shed some tears, and others before laying out his plan to continue to transform Everett and make it better for all its residents. In a speech he gave on Friday he spoke about how we wanted the area to no longer be one of junk yards and junk lots but one of hotels, resorts and the future. The mayor spoke much like Walt Disney spoke about his future city, Epcot, when it was being planned.
Most attendees of the opening day agreed that the Casino was going to make things better for locals. “I think you are going to start seeing a stabilizing tax base, improvements on the infrastructure,” said local Jody Taylor. “Bringing a better working class into the neighborhood.”
As the ribbon was cut, fireworks exploded in the river and on the rooftop of Encore. Guest were then lead to the resort entrance and the doors were open. The thousands in line were allowed in shortly after in staggered groups. Encore staff lined the entryways of the lobby and cheered them on as they entered, some heading straight to the casino floor and others choosing to go exploring.
I am thoroughly impressed with what they have done here, with the Encore,” said Everett resident David Ela. “It’s a great day for our city. Hopefully it’s the start of some new and more invigorating construction and changing the scope of how our city actually looks. I think this place is going to be really popular, they (people outside of Everett) are gonna want to see whats coming into the city. It’s nothing like any of the casinos around there. I think this place is even more beautiful then his (Steve Wynn’s) two facilities in Las Vegas.”
Excited patrons wandered the halls of the resort, taking selfis with the Popeye statue, the Carousel, as well as with other works of art on display. Men in cowboy hats could be seen playing poker and women in walkers were hitting the slot machines. Tables at restaurants were filling up and cocktail waitresses were running around with trays of water, sodas, cocktails and mocktails.
The casino was open and alive.