Many years ago, Sue Benko fondly dubbed her husband, the late Steve Benko, as “New Canaan’s Christmas Elf.”
A 1968 New Canaan High School graduate and standout Irish soda bread baker who would work as the town’s recreation director for four-plus decades—while also volunteering with New Canaan Fire Co. 1, serving as chief for all but one year from 1980 to 1995—Steve Benko “cherished” the Christmas tree at God’s Acre and the local tradition of caroling each Christmas Eve, Sue Benko recalled. “Each year, his enthusiasm would peak as it came time to light the tree,” she said. “Wrapping up all the kids warmly, we would take a drive-by to ensure the tree was just perfect.”
In 2014, God’s Acre got a new fir tree to serve as the centerpiece for the holidays, and Steve Benko decided to craft a new star for it. “In the inaugural year of its decoration, he sensed something was amiss,” Sue Benko recalled.