Seventh Annual ‘Addiction Awareness Vigil’ Set for Aug. 30


Photos from 2022 Addiction Awareness Vigil

The Summer Internship Program is sponsored by Carriage Barn Arts Center.

Every summer for the past six years, New Canaan closes the former “Pop Up Park” area downtown to hold a candlelight vigil in memory and support of loved ones who have struggled with addiction.

The Addiction Awareness Vigil is organized by the New Canaan Parent Support Group, led by its founder, town resident Paul Reinhardt. Year after year, it has been a place where those battling addiction have a safe environment to come forward, as well a place for those who have lost a loved one to pay their respects and support each other.

According to Reinhardt, visitors to this year’s vigil—scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30—will be able to hear from three individuals in long-term recovery, as they share their personal struggles with addiction, their journeys to recovery, and most importantly, how they now are doing “great things to help others.”

“The idea is to recognize the different points in people’s lives,” Reinhardt said. “Some people have really struggled with addiction, and you’re on a journey. Wherever you are, you’re welcome.”

The Police Commission at its June 21 meeting unanimously approved the road closure downtown, on South Avenue between Elm Street and Morse Court, for the vigil.

While not all New Canaan residents have dealt with addiction firsthand, the event is a signal that community members are here to support those in its throes and their loved ones.

Reinhardt encourages anyone who is interested to come to the event, not just those currently battling addiction. 

“People that aren’t affected by addiction are welcome as well to just learn more,” he said.

Around 450 people showed up to last year’s vigil, and Reinhardt hopes that he will break that record this year. He attributes the popularity of his event to several different reasons. 

“It’s not a fundraiser,” he said. “Everyone who comes to the event has felt accepted and welcomed no matter where they are in their journey.”

In addition to having several speakers come and share their experiences, the gathering will also feature the Wall of Remembrance, where people pay tribute to those who have lost their lives to addiction, including Reinhardt’s own son Evan. 

Another goal that the Parent Support Group hopes to accomplish with their vigil is to help reduce the shameful stigma that comes with having an addiction, which might prevent many people from coming forward. 

“At the end we do a community pledge where we say that if we know someone that is struggling or having a difficult time that instead of avoiding them, we will—ask them if they would like to sit down and talk,” Reinhardt said. 

More information about the vigil can be found on the New Canaan Parent Support Group’s website here.

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