LITCHFIELD — Thanks to COVID-19, holiday celebrations and gatherings have beem recreated this year.
The first hurdle facing the town of Litchfield was losing their longtime Park & Rec Director Brent Hawkins, who helped organize many of the traditional events in town.
Michele Murelli, member of the town’s Economic Development Commission, and her board, stepped in to fill the gap. The town invited merchants to bedeck their front doors to add a winter holiday vibe and solicited prizes for best decorations. Union Savings Bank donated three gift cards for local restaurants for lucky winners. Churches were also encouraged to decorate. St. Anthony of Padua was not only the first one to turn on the lights, but also held a fundraiser that sold 50 handmade Christmas wreaths in front of the church to benefit local families in need, Murelli said.
The Litchfield Historical Society is giving Holiday Lantern Tours at 6 p.m. Dec. 11 and 5 p.m. Dec. 13. This year 600 new LED lights have been added to the 45-foot tree on the green. This tree was planted 22 years ago in memory of Glenn Winn, Jr, who died in an automobile accident in 1997.
On its Facebook page, the town expressed gratitude to community volunteer John Langer who installs and double checks the bulbs each year. Langer said, “Glenn was nicknamed Chipper so, in his honor, I am naming this tree Chipper.”
Langer has also been trimming the tree for 10 years to keep it in “Christmas” shape, he said — a procedure requiring a bucket lift and walkie-talkie communications with his helper on the ground.
Jeff Russak, co-owner with his wife Sandra Russak, of Lawrence Jeffrey Jewelers on West Street overlooking the town green, did not need encouragement to deck the halls.
“We love doing our windows with a different theme every year,” Russak said. “Last year it was a life-size Nutcracker and this year we have a penguin and a new collection of glittery and fanciful little houses which have been cheering people up as they walk by.”
In Morris, two years ago, members of the then newly formed Morris Fire Company delivered joyous surprises to Morris children when Santa arrived on the firetruck at their home to hand them a wrapped present. The presents were items children requested from their parents — or Santa Claus) and were collected by firemen to provide a special delivery to create happy holiday memories. The following year, the Grinch on a tractor got all the attention.
In 2020, Morris is featuring a drive-through celebration in the Town Park. Fire engines and tractors will be merrily bright with many lights. Mr. and Mrs. Claus (Ed and Judy Dorsett) will be in front of the Town’s Christmas tree handing out presents supplied by the Reading Room Committee. Jackie Weik of Morris, a talented and enterprising photographer on winter break from college, is offering holiday mini sessions for family photos and Christmas cards.
The “little town of Bethlehem” is well known for its celebration of Christmastime, but this year a local farmer is doing something completely different. Robert Maddox’s family owned farm, Sun One Organic Farm at 50 Maddox Road, dates back to 1890.
Sun One Organic Farm grows certified organic produce on five acres and sells it locally through the Wooster Square farmers market in New Haven, Carol Peck’s Good News Café in Woodbury, Community Table Restaurant in Washington and to New Morning in Woodbury.
Maddox earned the title of LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional) in 2012.
“Most of those who become accredited are either engineers or architects. I am neither one; just a determined enthusiast,” he said.
This winter holiday season the farm is hosting a Winter Discovery event that features a new farm store selling local products such as honey and maple syrup from Brook View Sugar House in Morris, as well as gifts in its repurposed red barn. Its website describes this unique event: “Come check out the holiday art display in our greenhouse, tour the farm and shop our farm store. Enjoy some hot chocolate, a bonfire, and fun family activities and entertainment. Feel free to bring some food and a picnic blanket for the afternoon.”
Admission is $15 per carload. Winter Discovery is open Thursday through Sunday, through Jan. 3. Maddox said, “We ask people to reserve their party’s two-hour time slot online with Eventbrite before coming, as we are limiting traffic to keep everyone safe. Face masks and social distancing are mandatory. Please note there is no bathroom on site so please plan accordingly.”
A pop-up art gallery in one of the greenhouses showcases a dominant piece of art by Brian Soliwoda of Salt Tree Art, “Bees and Nutmeg.” The artist described it as “a sculptural solitary bee home modeled after the iconic Waterbury clock tower.” Bethlehem artist Matang Gonzales has two quirky artworks in the gallery: “Psychedelic Fish Tank” and “Train.”
For more information about Salt Tree Art, visit www.SaltTree.Art. Jackie Weik can be contacted at email@example.com. For more information on Sun One Organic Farm, visit www.sunoneorganic.com and to sign up for Winter Discovery, visit https://bit.ly/3lH2b9z.