‘How Special and Unique Our Downtown Is’: 14th Annual Holiday Stroll Coming Friday and Saturday

Locals are gearing up for a hugely popular event that sees downtown New Canaan transformed into a walkable winter wonderland featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus, live music and dance, S’mores, ice sculpture, waffles, gingerbread houses and a spotlight on local businesses. The 14th annual Holiday Stroll is to be held 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Presented by the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, the free Stroll “brings everybody downtown together,” said the organization’s Laura Budd. “It has been cold, people are not gathering outside as much as they have in the past, and this allows them to come into town and kick off the holiday season,” Budd said. “There’s all local talent performing and the stores really go all out and put their best foot forward.

‘Braziliant Body Waxing’ Opens on Main Street 

Luciana Araujo had been working as a lawyer in her native Brazil when she arrived in Danbury with zero English and two young children in 2004. 

At 32, she’d followed her husband to the United States on the promise that after one year here on his own, he had secured a small apartment for the family. 

Instead, Araujo learned, he wanted the family to move in with a cousin who had no room for all four of them. The cousin handed them the keys to a car and urged them to “go look for an apartment,” she recalled. “We ended up sleeping for two days in the car in front of Target at Exit 8 in Danbury when I got here,” Araujo recalled on a recent afternoon. “Me, my kids and him. My kids still remember the situation.

FIRST LOOK: ‘Organika Kitchen’ on Main Street To Open in Two Weeks [PHOTOS]

Vegan and vegetarian foods provider Organika Kitchen offered locals a sneak peek of its offerings Thursday night during the annual Taste of the Town Stroll. Known for its pancakes, mezza plates, smoothies, organic salads and juices, protein and açaí bowls, burgers and pizza, Organika served up pesto pasta salad cups and small cups of its “Super Green Smoothie” (spinach, kale, mango, banana) during the 8th Annual Stroll. It will open in two weeks on a full-time basis, according to Dimitri Pantzos, a partner in the business. “We’re very excited,” Pantzos said outside the new location as visitors gladly took the samples on a clear, cool evening. 

Asked what made Organika want to participate in the Stroll, Pantzos said: “We just want to be part of the town and commerce, and Tucker’s really nice, so why not participate?”

He referred to Tucker Murphy, executive director of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce. Items on Organika’s chalkboard menu include Margarita Pizza (tomato sauce, parmesan, mozzarella, topped with extra virgin olive oil and basil—$11), Protein Boost Smoothie (banana, almond butter, cacao powder, cinnamon, rice protein, raw honey and almond milk—$8.50), Beets By OGK Fresh Juice (beet, lemon, ginger, apple, celery—$8.50), Almond Crunch Bowl (banana, blueberries, açai, almond milk, mango, topped with strawberry, banana, granola, almond slices, almond butter and raw honey—$10.50) and Dragon Bomb Smoothie (mango, pineapple, dragon fruit, topped with pineapple, coconut and raw honey—$10). 

The Stroll is a “food-raiser” organized by the Chamber and sponsored by Berkshire Hathaway and Walter Stewart’s Market that brings in donated items for the local Food Pantry as well as eyeglasses and hearings aids for the LIONs Club of New Canaan.

Unwelcome Sight: New Parking Plan for Elm Street Takes Shape

An unwelcome change to parking on Elm Street in New Canaan has materialized in the form of thin strips of white paint. Though the permanent striping on New Canaan’s main business road is yet to come, public works officials have drawn the outline of a new parking arrangement over the recently repaved Elm Street that will see it lose 15 spaces. 

Prompted by a resident formally putting New Canaan on notice that the town was out of compliance with a little-known (and variously observed) state law that calls for a 25-foot buffer zone between a crosswalk and legal parking space—a notification that could open up the municipality to liability in the event of a collision—officials studied the parking plan on Elm Street and, reluctantly, approved revisions that respect the statute. Last week, residents got their first look at the new “no parking” zones based on outlines in the asphalt, and the change is dramatic. 

It also means downtown New Canaan, always struggling to accommodate demand for parking between workers and visitors, soon will be squeezed even tighter. Laura Budd of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce said the change makes it that much more urgent and necessary for those who work in both first- and second-floor businesses on Main and Elm to park in municipal lots. “Prime spots are for prime customers,” Budd said.

PHOTOS: Bargain-Hunters Hit New Canaan for Annual Sidewalk Sale

Bargain-hunters descended on New Canaan in droves starting Saturday morning for the Village Fair & Sidewalk Sale, running through 4 p.m.

Parts of Forest, Main and Elm Streets were closed to pedestrian-only traffic for the major annual event, organized by the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce. “It’s going awesome,” the Chamber’s Laura Budd said as the Sidewalk Sale got into full swing. “It’s a beautiful day. The vendors are up and running and people are already shopping. We love to see it.