Thursday, October 24, 2019 is World Polio Day. What do we care about Polio here in New Canaan? Plenty. Today there are many local residents who have been personally affected by polio or who know of a family member or friend who has been affected. We have other neighbors who may be completely unaware of polio’s impact on the world.
This week on 0684-Radi0, our free weekly podcast (subscribe here in the iTunes Store), we talk New Canaan Athletic Foundation Chairman Mike Benevento about the organization’s efforts over the past several months not only to formalize a partnership with the town, but to sketch out—for the very first time—a detailed, sustainable master plan for youth and varsity sports facilities in New Canaan. Those efforts include a newly announced music festival planned for Saturday, Sept. 7. This week’s podcast is sponsored by Karl Chevrolet, a proud supporter of the full range of New Canaan Athletics. Let’s go Rams.
This week on ‘0684-Radi0’ (hit ‘Listen in Browser’ above on your smartphone), we take a hard look at one piece of Selectman Nick Williams’s thinking in advocating for several months to give more time to a private nonprofit organization seeking permission to restore and reuse a public building in Mead Park.
Ultimately, as many know, the Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 to demolish so-called “Mead Park Brick Barn.” Much of what has weighed on Williams were the efforts of a local group to put their own time, expertise and, importantly, privately raised dollars, toward a building that falls under the town’s responsibility. Such proposed public-private partnerships are prevalent in New Canaan. We talk to Williams about his decision, and—separately from the Richmond Hill Road building—we talk generally about what’s happening with philanthropy in New Canaan with a local expert. Leo Karl III serves on the boards of the New Canaan Community Foundation and Waveny LifeCare Network, and he is assisting the New Canaan Athletic Foundation on formalizing its relationship with the town.
Many thanks to both Williams and Karl for granting us interviews.
This week’s podcast is sponsored by Brian Cronin, vice president of Ward Brokerage Associates, a boutique brokerage providing life, long-term care and disability solutions.
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.
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).