Letter: ‘Thank You’ from God’s Acre Christmas Caroling Committee

While the carols and the Christmas Eve gathering remained the same, this year marked a changing of the guard in terms of leadership for the annual God’s Acre Christmas Caroling. 

A century ago, when John E. Hersam, then publisher of the New Canaan Advertiser, along with other members of the Town Band, invited friends and neighbors to God’s Acre for Christmas Eve Caroling, he likely had no idea he was helping to launch one of the quintessential New Canaan traditions. Thus, at the start of this year’s Carol Singing, it was fitting that V. Donald Hersam, and the entire Hersam family, was publicly thanked for their 100 year stewardship of this wonderful community event. 

With the sale of the Advertiser to Hearst last fall, the Hersams have transitioned stewardship of this annual event to a new God’s Acre Christmas Caroling Committee. We are each honored to help carry on this amazing tradition. 

Even though this is a free event open to all, there are annual costs associated with hosting it. This year we want to thank Tim Brown, from Brown Thayer Shedd Insurance, for stepping forward to underwrite construction of the bandstand and Rand Insurance for underwriting the cost of the song sheets provided that evening. We thank each individual and local family who sent in donations to help defray the costs.

Group Works To Continue Christmas Eve Caroling at God’s Acre

A group of local volunteers have formed a new entity to ensure that a beloved New Canaan tradition, long supported by some of the town’s most generous individuals and families, continues in perpetuity. Though it may appear to spring up spontaneously from the patch of ground on which New Canaan was founded, the cherished Christmas Eve caroling at God’s Acre is in fact the result of multiple coordinated steps and support from families such as the Hersams and Karls, and residents such as Steve Benko, officials say. With the sale in October of Hersam Acorn Newspapers Inc. to Hearst, the multiple “moving parts” overseen for decades by the former New Canaan Advertiser publishers—getting lights on the tree, printing 2,000 songsheets, setting up barricades and the bandstand and making arrangements for the New Canaan Town Band as well as coordinating with groups such as the Congregational Church of New Canaan, New Canaan Police Department and Department of Public Works—all must fall to new people. Enter Benko, Tucker Murphy, Tom Stadler, Steve Karl, Leo Karl III and Scott Gress. Following multiple multi-hour meetings in recent days, they formed the God’s Acre Caroling Foundation, established to collect donations and ensure that the century-old traditional can continue (see mailing info below).

Did You Hear … ?

First Selectman Kevin Moyinhan said during a media briefing Thursday that he’s asked one of New Canaan’s foremost nonprofit figures—Leo Karl III—to lead the New Canaan Athletic Foundation. Karl, known for his extensive volunteer work with organizations that include the New Canaan Community Foundation, where he had served as president, agreed to take on the role, according to Moynihan. Praised by Moynihan for its fundraising ability, the NCAF among other organizational priorities is seeking to establish its own nonprofit arm along the lines of what a similar  group has in Darien, the first selectman said. ***

A Darien homeowner is taking a New Canaan man and his company to small claims court for $4,660.32, saying he committed breach of contract by failing to complete painting work, sealing broken plumbing behind “impenetrable tile and drywall work” and incorrectly installing tile, according to a complaint filed in May. In an answer and counterclaim, the New Canaan man said he’s owed $2,089.63 and that the plaintiff is suing for work not included in the contract.

STAR Turns to Karl Chevrolet, Bolt To ‘Stay Ahead of the Curve’

Saying the addition of an electric car will improve their program and save money while helping the environment, officials with a New Canaan nonprofit organization that serves developmentally disabled people recently turned to a venerable local business for assistance. STAR Inc., Lighting the Way received a state grant allowing it to add 10 new vehicles to its fleet, including one hybrid, one electric car and eight additional wheelchair-accessible vans, according to Peter Saverine, the organization’s director of philanthropy. Karl Chevrolet facilitated the purchase of an EV, in the spirit of the Elm Street dealership’s longtime support of local nonprofits. “Karl Chevrolet was super nice and accommodating,” Saverine said. “They even drove over to Norwalk with three car models so we could take them for a spin and determine which was the best for us.”

They ended up with one electric Chevy Bolt EV that will help the organization experiment with leveraging their savings to reduce costs.

Op-Ed: Balancing Progress and Preservation

It takes the perspective of time to balance the pace of progress working to shape the future versus the desire to preserve the past. Lately in New Canaan it seems that the majority of projects proposing change and progress toward an ever changing future have been met with cries to preserve the past. I guess that is human nature at its fundamental best—the struggle to remember the past while pursuing the future. Such is the plight of many buildings in New Canaan. There is no question that our town is fortunate to have a vibrant history that we should all be willing to embrace.