Boston Remembers the Victims On The 80th Anniversary of the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub Fire

On November 28, 1942, a devastating fire ripped through the popular nightclub, Cocoanut Grove. The fire is recorded as the deadliest nightclub fire in history, killing 492 people.

On the night of the fire, the nightclub was incredibly overpacked, many emergency doors were locked, and many of the decorations were incredibly flammable. This tragic event triggered many new safety laws in Boston, such as banning flammable decor in nightclubs and requiring all exit doors to be unlocked at all times.

On Monday, November 28, 2022, a vigil was held to remember the lives lost on that tragic day. It has been 80 years since the fire and is recorded as Boston’s most deadly tragedy in all of history. It is also the second deadliest building fire in American history, close behind the Iroquois Theatre Fire.

In addition to the informal vigil, the Cocoanut Grove Memorial Committee is actively working to create a yearly memorial service. They were established in 2015 with the goal of commemorating the lives lost in the event, and have been hard at work trying to install the event starting in Fall 2023.

Former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn was seen attending the vigil on Monday. In an interview with Boston 25 News, he said, “There’s a special place in heaven not only for the people who died in the Cocoanut Grove, but for the people who kept this memory alive.”

Current Mayor Michelle Wu also spoke about the memorial: “Not only will this memorial uplift the memories of all those lives we lost and the first responders who rushed to the scene, it will remind us of what we as a city have always done in moments of great sorrow and struggle — we come together, we unite as a community.”

The memorial is reportedly being built near the former Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Statler Park. The overarching goal of the committee is to encourage more people to properly remember this horrific event and honor the many lives lost.

The memorial planning is still in the works and committee members hope that by the next anniversary of the event, the memorial will be fully functional. According to the city, the memorial is still in the contracting phase, and has an overall budget of $585,000.

Photos courtesy of Boston Fire Twitter & Boston Firefighters Local 718 Twitter