The Annual Holiday Stroll to be held on Friday November 30th and Saturday December 1st, is a weekend of festivities that marks the beginning of the holiday season in New Canaan. The New Canaan Chamber of Commerce and the Holiday Stroll committee works for months and months to put the pieces together, which include a trip to the North Pole to recruit Santa Claus, his reindeer and helpers, as well as solidifying the entertainment, refreshments, and the manpower it will take to orchestrate the weekend’s celebrations. But there is one component, the highlight of the event, that still has a ways to go – and that is the funds needed to light the lights of downtown New Canaan so that Santa was able to pull the switch and ring in the holiday season.
Contrary to popular belief, the town does not fund this endeavor. While they do absorb the electricity portion, the hardware and manpower alone totals a whopping $19,000 +, of which, in past years, came from merchants and private donors. “People assume that the town has some secret stash that they dip in to for events such as these, “says New Canaan Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tucker Murphy, “and often it goes unspoken, but residents should know that it doesn’t work like that.”
A donation outreach is being initiated by the Chamber and the merchants of New Canaan. All donations, big or small, are welcome and can be sent to the Chamber at 91 Elm Street, New Canaan or anyone wishing to donate can go to our website and donate online at www.newcanaanchamber.com. Of course, checks are always welcome, made payable to the “New Canaan Holiday Lights”. So, where does the money go and how do the costs add up to such a high amount?
“Approximately 150 hours of manpower to light 50 trees with 400 strands of lights,” explains Rob Hutchinson of Hutchinson Tree Care Specialists, the team behind this yearly ambitious endeavor. Rob has already began in early November the month-long project that includes prepping the trees and testing the electricity sources, which is limited, tricky and challenging. The main power source comes from the lamp posts that line Elm Street, Forest St and part of South Avenue. Main Street now has new lamposts as part of the Phase III Lamppost Project spearheaded by the Chamber. “We are up on the cherry pickers [trucks] for about 50 hours, on the ground for 100 hours, plus there’s day to day maintenance while the lights are up and the break down in the end, “says Rob, “Not to mention the traffic control and police work involved.”
Other costs include the lights themselves. Year to year replacements must be determined. Dale Carbonier from Rand Insurance of New Canaan and a long time Chamber member/supporter created “Bulb Blast”, a yearly event that rounds up team of volunteers, some of which are high school students, to test the lights at the New Canaan Fire Station. Inevitably, lights, and other equipment, need fixing and replacing.