What does it mean to receive a key to the city? Generally, a famous townie or celebrated notable visiting would be presented a "key to the city."

The historical purpose started in medieval times when major cities would be fortified by walls and gates, and the key would actually unlock the gates.

Today's ornamental gesture is just symbolic, and that's the problem. Aside from sitting on a shelf, the key to the City of New Bedford should come with special bennies. I'd like to hear some of your suggestions about what the key to the city should actually do.

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Some recipients get a key to the city for heroic actions, like Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, of Danville, California, the hero pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 that landed on the Hudson River. Others, like Frank Sinatra, received a key from his hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey.

Unfortunately, Cher ran into a lot of PR hot water, when her honorary key to Adelaide, Australia was sold on eBay for about $98,000. Embarrassing for Cher, because word got out that she needed the money. The singer wrote, amid a growing backlash in Australia, "Think my office f k d up?" In music, that key would be F# major!

Phil Paleologos/Townsquare Media
Phil Paleologos/Townsquare Media
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In a past conversation, I recall former Mayor Brian Lawler telling me that the real purpose of the key is to draw other people's attention to the city, because it's good for the city to be viewed as a place where amazing people come from, in the hope others will choose to visit or maybe even move here.

Still, it would be nice if it opened a few "doors." Here are some potential perks:

What a Key to the City of New Bedford Should Get You

In the old days, receiving a key to the city actually opened some physical doors. Nowadays, it's more for opening figurative ones. Here are some things that should be a benefit for the few fortunate enough to receive a key to New Bedford.

New Bedford's '50s Night Over the Years

Joe Jesus' '50s Night was a longtime staple of New Bedford's summer schedule before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. Take a look at '50s Night over the years.