Chamber: Support Needed for Holiday Lights Downtown

Officials are calling for locals to support a cherished New Canaan tradition that relies on private funds to take place downtown each year.

The holiday lights on Elm Street in New Canaan. Photo courtesy of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce

The white lights that adorn trees on Elm, Main and Forest Streets—and starting this year, Pine Street, as well—cost about $22,000 in hardware and manpower, according to the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce. While the town supplies the electricity for the now-100-percent-LED lights, funds must be raised each year to carry those costs.

“I think it is one of the things that sets our town apart in the holdaiy season,” Laura Budd of the Chamber told NewCanaanite.com.

“It brings a lot of happiness to people—it’s the darkest time of the year, we have the least amount of light and it’s really great to come downtown and see all the trees lit up and the lampposts, too. Our downtown is very busy at night because of all great restaurants, and when people come off of the train at night or when they’re driving through downtown or meeting friends for dinner, it really gives it a special feeling.”

Those wishing to support the effort with a tax-deductible donation may do so here online (checks made out to ‘New Canaan Chamber Charitable Foundation’ can be mailed to the Chamber at 91 Elm St.).

The lights physically are installed by New Canaan-based Hutchinson Tree Care Specialists Inc., winner of the most recent “Golden Shovel Award” from the Chamber for its work in beautifying the downtown.

According to the head of the company, Rob Hutchinson, some 150 man hours go into lighting 70-plus trees with about 500 strands of lights. The work involves prepping the trees and testing electricity sources prior to installing the lights themselves, now visible for all to see ahead of the Holiday Stroll, set for this Friday and Saturday.

“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,” Hutchinson said in a press release. “Not to mention the traffic control and police work involved.”

The Chamber two years ago began converting to energy-efficient LED bulbs for the holiday lights downtown, and now all 12,000 bulbs are LED. They last about 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, though they’re more expensive.

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