Business officials are calling for residents to help support a cherished holiday tradition in downtown New Canaan.
The New Canaan Chamber of Commerce oversees the installation of white lights in trees downtown, and is in the process of switching over to a more environmentally friendly bulb.
Though the light emitting diodes or “LED” bulbs last longer and use less electricity than regular bulbs, they’re more expensive upfront—an expense that, together with the costs of installation (150 hours of manpower), comes to some $21,000 per year, according to Tucker Murphy, the chamber’s executive director.
“We used to tap the merchants for the funding, and it’s a significant expenditure every year,” Murphy said. “We want to let the general community know that if it’s something everybody helped with, it doesn’t always have to be on the backs of the merchants.”
Those wiling to help fund the lights can make a tax-deductible donation to the New Canaan Chamber Charitable Foundation, mailed to the chamber at 91 Elm Street, and online donations can be made here.
Hutchinson Tree Care already has installed 400 strands of lights in 50 trees and they’ll be switched on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, to illuminate streets and sidewalks downtown through the holidays—a season whose highlight for many in the business district is the Holiday Stroll (running Dec. 4 and 5), Murphy said. The LED lights will adorn trees on Forest Street this year, Murphy said.
The chamber’s news comes as New Canaan enters an Eversource pilot program to replace high-pressure sodium streetlight bulbs with LEDs. According to Tiger Mann, assistant director of the Department of Public Works, New Canaan was selected to participate in a program that will see LED bulbs installed in streetlight bulbs on South Avenue—at no cost to the town (an approximately $1,500 per year net savings). The lights will give South Avenue the same amount of coverage and will illuminate that gateway to New Canaan “almost better,” Mann said at a Board of Selectmen meeting, held in a Town Hall board room Tuesday morning.
“The lighting from LEDs seems more like moonlight and does not cast a shadow,” Mann said.
If the pilot program works well, the goal of Eversource is to switch the entire town over, Mann said.
First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said: “I am delighted. Glad we jumped on it.”