FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — If you’ve been wondering what the bright mural that says “Viva Fall River” means, you’re not the only one.
12 News has learned that the mural seen from I-195 in Fall River is more than just a painting or marketing ploy, it’s a movement.
Although Viva Fall River is the name of a popular Portuguese song from the 1980s by Jorge Ferreira, the meaning of the phrase has taken on a life of its own, especially during the pandemic.
The vibrant and large mural represents the color and life the Viva Fall River movement hopes to amplify and bring back to the city — especially along South Main Street where its headquarters is.
“At the time, this was before COVID, we wanted that space to be to invite the community in to learn about our initiatives and also learn about businesses downtown,” Director of Viva Fall River Patti Rego said.
It’s funded by the Massachusetts Transformative Development Initiative, a state program for Gateway Cities designed to accelerate economic growth within focused districts, through partnerships with businesses, nonprofits and financial institutions.
However when plans began, they had to shift during the pandemic.
“COVID happened, we still had the name, and funny enough, that rally cry of ‘Long Live Fall River,’ took on so much more importance,” Rego recalled.
Rego said they distributed over $125,000 to 27 businesses and provided ways for small businesses to go virtual if need be.
“We were able to help certain businesses stay open by they produced meals for the community so it was like a community and small business effort,” Rego added.
Now, they are back to their original mission.
Alexandra’s Boutique has thrived on South Main Street for years and is now helping others find similar success.
“We want the area to do better because that makes us do better, it’s like the ‘rising tide raises all boats’ type of thing,” Managing Partner Zach Leone said. “They’re doing a bunch of stuff with helping people like Google my Business, marketing, websites, we’re doing Taste Fall River again.”
Using food, the arts, and festivals to attract people to the city, in the future, they hope the popup store will feature “Made in Fall River” items.