BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — If there’s a reason to celebrate in Bristol, chances are Manny Correira will be there.
Correira has lived in Bristol for 74 years and next week is his favorite time of the year in the town he loves.
He just turned 78 last week and for most of his life he has been the one telling the story, not being the story.
“When I first started in the newspaper business I remember everything was black and white back then,” he recalled.
Correira’s career started in 1960 when he was a junior reporter with the East Bay Newspaper Group. He also spent 23 years at the Providence Journal.
“I remember going to the Final Four in St. Louis with [Providence College] and Marvin Barnes and Ernie DeGregorio and the pictures I took there were outstanding,” Correira explained.
Living in Bristol, he can’t go anywhere in town without being recognized.
“Everyone knows Manny in Bristol, we love Manny in Bristol, he knows all of our families,” a local bookkeeper said.
In the span of 15 minutes, Police Chief Kevin Lynch, his childhood friend Mike Byrnes, East Bay Newspaper Group owner Matthew Hayes and a few others were more than happy to talk about Correira.
“I’ve known Manny since we were knee-high to a grasshopper we grew up together. Manny, to me, personifies Bristol,” Byrnes said. “He is the Bristol spirit the patriotic spirit the immigrant spirit of Bristol and the spirit of hard work.”
Lynch noted that Correira has the “celebrity status” around town.
“He is that guy with old-fashioned values and a sense of the community and I’ve learned a lot from him so I’m grateful for our relationship,” Lynch said.
Bristol, the home of America’s oldest continuous Fourth of July Celebration, will celebrate their 237th parade next week. Correira remembers coming to the parade as a kid and as he gets older he says the memories of being there with his family always come back.
“I remember when I was 10 years old, I looked at the Chief Marshall that year who was on a huge golden Palamino,” Correira said. “I said to myself, ‘man, would I like to be that guy someday.’ And 50 years later I finally got my wish.”
“When it’s my time to go, I will know in the back of my mind I served my community the best that I could and the town reciprocated by giving me its highest honor,” he continued.
The 4th of July in Bristol is only part of Correira’s passion and source of pride.
“I haven’t missed many [parades],” he said.
If you are ever in town and see Correira, chances are he will have his camera with him. When asked about how many pictures he’s taken in his life, he said it’s probably “tens of thousands.”
“It’s a passion and I feel obligated because people look forward to seeing their town as much as possible,” Correira explained.
Writing and taking pictures is still his job as he continues to work where it all began back in 1960.
“Manny started here in 1962. I’m the owner of this company now, I was born in 1963. I’m almost 60 and Manny has been here longer than I’ve been alive,” Hayes said.