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Change For Sandy Hook Tree Lighting Has Slight Domino Effect For Event

Published: November 29, 2016

Organizers of the Sandy Hook Tree Lighting learned last week that there would be a change of plans for this year’s event.

Scheduled for Saturday, December 3, the Sandy Hook event was to have a pair of trees lit, similar to what has been done at the intersection of Glen Road, Church Hill Road, Washington Avenue, and Riverside Road in recent years. The business center has two trees, one at 1 Washington Avenue, within The Glen; and one at 2 Washington Avenue.

The tree in The Glen, covered in multicolored lights, has been lit by Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP)for the past six years. The tree across the road, planted in May 2013 and covered in green ad white lights, has been lit for the past three years.
On Tuesday, SHOP members Sharon Doherty and Maribeth Hemingway learned that Public Works employees would not be able to string lights on The Glen tree this year, the way they have in the past.

“We were told that new regulations regarding bucket trucks and power lines means the town employees aren’t going to be able to hang the lights on one of the trees this year,” Ms Doherty said. “They can’t put lights on the tree next to Sabrina Style, so now we have just one tree for the tree lighting event.”

Public Works Director Fred Hurley said that the regulations are not new, however. It is the growth of the large evergreen at the Newtown Forest Association property that has changed the way Public Works will now approach it.

“That tree has become so large,” Mr Hurley said November 22, “we can’t use a bucket truck in there. The guys are just too close to the wires. They’re not supposed to get within 10 feet of wires.”

Public Works is still committed to using a bucket truck for the tree at 2 Washington Avenue.

While there are other options to get the lights onto that tree — including telescoping poles, which would allow someone to work from the ground, said Mr Hurley — SHOP has decided to light just the Norway spruce at 2 Washington Avenue for this year’s holiday celebration.

Which leads to additional changes for December 3.

SHOP has in recent years asked attendees to bring with them donations for FAITH Food Pantry. Each family that offers a donation is then entered into a raffle to have the honor of lighting the tree in The Glen. Without lights for that tree, the raffle will instead be for someone else to join the lighting of the Norway spruce.

“A family living in Sandy Hook had already been promised they could light the new tree this year,” Ms Doherty said. “What we are going to do now is still accept donations for the food pantry, and still draw a raffle ticket.

“The family whose ticket is drawn will then join the original family who had been promised the tree lighting honor,” she continued. “It will be a group effort this year.”

Fred Hurley promised that the event will go on.

“There will be lights, and there will be a tree lighting,” he said last Wednesday afternoon.

The 16th Annual Sandy Hook Tree Lighting will begin at 4 pm, Saturday. Businesses will have special offers and treats for visitors.

Santa will arrive in Sandy Hook Center from the North Pole via a Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue truck at 5 pm. He will stay until 6 pm, during which time children can meet him.

A decorated mailbox will be set up so that children can also bring their letters to Santa to the tree lighting event. They will be delivered straight to the North Pole following the tree lighting.

Faith at Newtown, at 4 Washington Avenue, will again be offering a live Nativity scene.

Caroling and live music will also welcome people as they arrive. The tree will be lit at 6 o’clock, and caroling will continue for a short time after that.

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