Rock and roll sounds from Quicksand Planet and Ursuland bands kept the room jumping Sunday, December 22 during the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission & HealingNewtown Holiday Party. Newtown Congregational Church’s Great Room was filled with festivities for families and children for four hours on Sunday, as the event beckoned guests, offering carols, Hearts of Hope, Newtown Juggling & Circus Arts Club performers, and arts and crafts table, circle of love, and more. Also in attendance on Sunday was Valerie Culbertson, the new director of HealingNewtown, who said organizers had aimed for a festive event that would attract a large crowd. Party planners must have been pleased, considering the large number of people who turned out for the event.
This is the 15th and final installation of a series of stories that have shared special events that have taken place as Newtown began healing following 12/14. In this installation of "Gestures of Kindness," view a photo taken by a Sandy Hook resident in Norwalk of a longtime holiday tradition that incorporated the victims of 12/14 in this year's display; dance studios that have made donations to a Newtown dance studio for a scholarship fund named to honor three dancers lost that morning; a former Newtown family encouraging kindness in their community in Pennsylvania; and a group of women in Monroe who have begun sharing kindness by building handmade dolls for children at The Ronald McDonald House in New Haven.
Sandy Hook resident Ricky Grasso is not only studying abroad this semester, but he is also sharing a special part of his home with residents and tourists in Rome. Ricky (NHS ’11), who has taken a photojournalism course, has decided to place Sandy Hook Ducks — white and green rubber ducks that have come to symbolize Sandy Hook Elementary School and the town of Newtown — at locations around the city. And then he sits back with his camera and waits for reactions. He received “some pretty unbelievable feedback,” he said in a recent message.
When Margot Hall steps through the doorway of her Newtown home, two bricks stacked nearby remind her of a place far away and long ago. She thinks of the home in Forst-Berge, Germany, where she was born in 1939, the stucco-covered brick façade and the gleaming red roof tiles. She remembers large family celebrations, and peeking into the living room through the keyhole of the wooden door on Christmas Eve, as her father embellished the Christmas tree with ornaments, and set out the handcrafted village and train that ran about the base of the tree. She recalls happy times, and happy people. Ms Hall was just 5 years old when Russian soldiers banged on the door of the home and stood by as her parents, Elli and Karl Sachs, hurriedly packed a handcart, bundled her infant brother Christian into a carriage, took her by the hand, and fled. Walking eastward in the chill weather of autumn, the family moved from one vacant house to another, staying just ahead of the fighting. “We were homeless,” recalled Ms Hall, an odyssey that would last until the end of World War II.
The family room of Bob Schmidt’s home quickly filled with nearly 250 toys on the morning of Saturday, December 7, but the donation had very little to do with Christmas. The toys had been collected during the end-of-season Nutmeg Kart Club (NKC) members gathering. They were donated to Newtown Lions Club with the hope that the local Lions can use them to entice more people to purchase additional tickets for next year’s Great Pootatuck Duck Race. The Lions will thank those who purchase tickets by offering them one of the small toys from the new collection when they begin selling Duck Race tickets in the spring. Partial proceeds from those ticket sales will continue to benefit the Lions Club's Sandy Hook Elementary Fund, which has been providing financial assistance for those seeking therapy since 12/14.
A small group of avid Lake Zoar water-skiers resurrected a longtime tradition Sunday with a half-dozen Santa Clauses saluting lakeside residents with hearty “Merry Christmas” greetings in a spectacular fashion. The Santas, mainly a group of friends who have skied together for more than 25 years, gave up their annual tradition a few years ago as they reached age 50 — and the dangers of skim ice on the lake, and hypothermia from a dunking, became more apparent. Led by Sandy Hook resident Edward Lundblad of Lakeview Terrace, Chris Goldberg of Norwalk and Tom Sullivan, who has a summer home on the lake, the expert skiers decided to do a run this year as ice receded and air temperatures rose into the 50s. They were blessed, also, because a blanket of heavy ice fog that had covered the lake all morning, eased up about the time of the 1:15 pm departure on December 22.
Newtown resident George Duncan met with C.H. Booth Library Interim Director Beryl Harrison on December 16 to formally present a photographic portrait to the library’s permanent collection. Mr Duncan has given the library a portrait of 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Alice Munro. The portrait of Ms Munro was taken in a studio in New York City and appeared in The New York Times Magazine in October 2004, timed to coincide with the publication of her short stories entitled Runaway. An alternate image of the one that appeared in the article, the portrait donated to the library is Mr Duncan’s personal favorite from the photo shoot.
Vancouver-based vocalist, pianist, and songwriter Robyn McCorquodale is among those around the world who was “rocked by the mass shooting and loss of 20 first-graders and six educators. An unimaginable assault on beautiful human life,” she said. In response, she has written and recorded a single, “Garden of Angels,” that is available as a digital download from iTunes and CD Baby. Proceeds from the song’s sale will be donated to Sandy Hook Promise.
DANBURY — The venerable folk duo Aztec Two-Step, aka Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman, were often reviewed as having the “east coast sensibility,” “intellectual lyricism,” and supplying the “ethereal harmonies” of Simon & Garfunkel when critics got hold of their debut album in 1972. But over the course of their more than four decades performing together, the duo has also been the subject of a documentary entitled No Hit Wonder. So why not just hang up their well-worn guitar straps and cruise into retirement entrenched in semi-obscurity? According to Fowler, who connected for an engaging chat with The Newtown Bee ahead of the duo’s December 28 concert at the Danbury Palace theater, it’s because they still have many songs to sing, and even a few more to create together before ever considering anything resembling retirement.