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Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: Brightly painted city sign offers hope in challenging times

August 19. 2017 12:46AM
There's a big “hope” sign in the front yard of this home at 95 Candia Road in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

TUESDAY MORNING was gray and dreary, and the weather matched my mood. The images from Charlottesville were still fresh in my mind as I headed to work.

And then I saw HOPE.

“HOPE” stood outside a home at 94 Candia Road, so I pulled my car into the driveway, knocked on the door, and got a dose of serendipity.

Susan McKenzie is the creator of the six-foot tall, vibrantly painted “HOPE” sign outside her home. She had started building it days before the Charlottesville tragedy as part of a week-long scavenger hunt called GISHWHES (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen).

In GISHWHES -- which was created by The EW’s “Supernatural” show star Misha Collins -- teams work together from home or in public to create crazy art, commit acts of kindness, and attempt fun challenges. They can earn points by submitting photos or videos of their completed challenges.

McKenzie said her 15-member team, called Mischief Mismanaged, had members from around the world who divided up the challenges. They were not competing, but just attempting the tasks for fun.

“You can try to do as many things as you can or pick one thing and do the hell out of it,” she explained.

McKenzie chose the GISHWHES challenge of “building a large-scale, jaw-dropping sculpture or structure dedicated to hope. Make it so magnificent that motorists back up and park to gaze at its beauty.”

She completed her sculpture and submitted her photo Saturday, just as the challenge was ending, and our collective need for a big hope was beginning.

When McKenzie and her husband saw the news, they decided they had to leave HOPE up for a while. And the sign is magnificent, and it does have people stopping to gaze at its beauty.

In fact, so many people have stopped that McKenzie put a note on the door saying it was OK to take pictures, and there was no need to ring the bell.

“People are saying, ‘Thanks for putting this up. We need hope,’” McKenzie said.

Celebrating culture

Manchester has several opportunities to celebrate cultural heritages with festivals around the city this weekend and next. Admission to all festivals is free.

The Mahjaran Middle Eastern Festival continues today and Sunday at Our Lady of the Cedars Church, 140 Mitchell St. There will be food, carnival games, live entertainment, and a gift bazaar today from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

The We Are One African, Caribbean, and Latino festival also takes place today from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Veterans Park on Elm Street.

In addition to music, dance, food, and crafts, there will be community vendors and social service agency exhibitors.

A Nepali women’s festival called Teej will be held at Manchester’s Unitarian Universalist Church, 669 Union St., Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

Greekfest will be held at Assumption Church, 111 Island Pond Road, next Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 26 and 27. You will find all things Greek here, including food, music, and dancing.

Tour de Manch

The Manchester Conservation Commission’s annual city bike tour, Tour De Manch, is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 10.

This 30-mile, family-friendly bike ride begins at Eversource Energy Park on Commercial Street and loops around the Queen City with rest stops at Nutts Pond Recreational Trail, the Aviation Museum, Lake Massabesic and Weston Observatory. There is also a 40-mile route option.

The cost is $25 or $10 for children 6 to 13 years old, with fees going to the Manchester Conservation Fund. Children under 6 ride free. Riders get a t-shirt and lunch at the end of the ride.

Riders can find more information and register at

Do you have an interesting item for The Scene? Email Katie at

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