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New month, new outfit for Bruce the Spruce. Our permanent seasonal tree in Production is looking forward to St Patrick’s Day, thanks to the new outfit he received last week from Lynn Remson. Bruce is currently sporting a top hat with oversize clover and, interestingly, lots of orange hair. This week the ensemble received the rainbow and pot of gold you also see here. Seems Bruce is cool with some temporary hair color judging by the looks of his beard, eyebrows, and small tuft of hair peeking out from under the hat. As I’ve said before: This cat does not judge.

Local first responders are also looking forward to the approaching St Patrick’s Day weekend. Newtown Police Department is coordinating the Second Annual First Responders Penguin Plunge, taking place Saturday, March 16. While the PD has done Penguin Plunge events for many years, they extended their event last year for the first time to include local firefighters and ambulance personnel. Members of Newtown Underwater Search And Rescue were also on hand again, ready for emergencies (and fortunately, there were none). As with previous events, funds will be raised while body core temperatures are going down. Organizers and participants will gratefully accept donations to benefit Special Olympics Connecticut. If you’d like to donate online, visit give.soct.org/team/560726. If you’d like to highlight the PD, Newtown Volunteer Ambulance, NUSAR, or one of the fire companies, make sure you mention that within the option of leaving a comment.

Congratulations are in order this week to some of the youngest Graceful Planet dancers. Students of the Sandy Hook Center dance studio participated in a Groove National Dance Competition event last weekend, and returned home with multiple awards. Petite Company Angels 1 earned first place overall, Diamond Award and Judges Special Award for their routine, called “A Breath of Fresh Air,” along with The Conga Elite Sapphire Award and first place in their category. Graceful Planet’s Jr Company’s “Walking & Falling” earned second place overall, as well as a Diamond Award and a special choreography award.

Additional congratulations to the folks at Better Day Café, whose Valentine’s Day Cookie Kits offering last month and late January resulted in nearly 150 kits being sold this year. This was the second annual presentation of the kits, which offered “everything you need to decorate your very own Valentine’s Day cookies,” organizers again promised. And it’s true: they did. For $5, each kit offered a few heart-shaped sugar cookies with sides of icing and other decorations to make each cookie unique by the time purchasers finished decorating them.

Two student-focused groups have fundraisers underway this week. The NHS Boys golf team Egg My Yard Fundraiser has been launched. Members of the team will visit a home and hide filled plastic eggs on the lawn between 9 pm and midnight on Friday, March 29, or Saturday, March 30 (your choice). Cost is $30 for 30 eggs or $50 for 60 eggs. Eggs will be filled with candy or non-candy — again it’s your choice. Tracy Piccuillo is coordinating the reservations and can be reached at TBenham100@hotmail.com. She can send you the link for a Google form or QR code to scan, or work with you to take a Venmo payment; contact her ASAP to figure out the logistics. Last year the team used the funds raised for uniforms and golf bags. This year they plan to use the funds toward greens fees for summer practice. Deadline to reserve a visit is March 20, but the team is small and spaces are limited so this is definitely something to hop on right away if you’re at all interested.

A Newtown Middle School PTA Villarina’s Fine Food Fundraiser is also underway. Funds raised through this event will benefit NMS student activities. Eleven different meals are available, each priced at $22 and each providing 2-3 servings: Chicken Parmigiana, Chicken Marsala, Eggplant Rollatini, Gluten-Free Chicken Scarpello, Linguini with Clam Sauce, Lobster Ravioli with Red Pepper Sauce, Macaroni & Cheese, Manicotti, Mushroom Lasagna, Penne A La Vodka, and Rigatoni Bolognese. Visit nmspta.memberhub.com to place an order. Orders are due March 12, and will be ready for pickup after school Thursday, March 21. They will be frozen for pick-up. For additional information send an email to newtownmsPTA@gmail.com.

Dinner and entertainment at one seating? Bingo! That’s what organizers of the Friday Knight Fish Fry and St Rose Friday Night Bingo hope their guests will say next week, when the two events merge at St Rose School. The local Knights of Columbus are conducting their annual Lenten meals offerings of fish (and other non-meat entrees) each Friday night. The series continues weekly to March 29. For a few more weeks, it’s curbside takeout only. Meanwhile, the St Rose School Home School Association is also running its monthly Bingo series, and the two will overlap on March 8. If you’d like to have dinner on-site before games begin, visit KofC185.org/fish-fry between March 3 and midnight March 7 to place your dinner order. Pick-up will be available between 5-8 pm on March 8, but Bingo organizers strongly suggest their guests pick up dinners within the first hour because games begin at 6. Dinner prices are available on the website. Bingo is $20 per person for all regular games. Special games are $1 each. See our calendars, in print and online, for additional details.

With all this talk about food it’s easy to sometimes forget that it isn’t always easy for some of our neighbors to put food on their own tables. Ahead of this weekend’s FAITH Food Pantry Drive-Thru — Saturday morning between 10 am and noon, when volunteers will be available to receive donations at 46 Church Hill Road — I’d like to also offer a reminder that Trinity Episcopal Church launched The Little Pantry last year. In mid-October, the congregation hosted the formal dedication of The Little Pantry. Constructed within the median of the church’s 36 Main Street parking lot and dedicated in mid-October, this pantry was the dream of a parishioner and then planned and constructed by a small team who saw a need to address local food insecurity. The Little Pantry is a small structure to collect and distribute shelf-stable and non-perishable food. Its motto is “Give what you can, Take what you need.” If you’d like to help with the first part of that motto, the pantry is currently low on canned fruit or nonperishable fruit cups, cold cereal, boxed side dishes, canned meat, canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, pet food, coffee, and bottles of water. Thanks to donations already in hand, the pantry is currently overstocked on oatmeal, mac & cheese, and canned vegetables.

Newtown percussionist Matt Spencer, son of longtime residents Warren and Andrea Spencer, is appearing in the cast of Million Dollar Quartet, currently playing at ACT in Ridgefield. The play’s first weekend was so well attended that the show’s run has been extended an extra week, to March 23. For tickets and additional information visit actofct.org/million-dollar-quartet/

Best wishes to RoseAnn Reggiano, who retires today. The assistant director of recreation for Newtown Parks & Recreation will no longer be showing up at 8 Simpson Street for work. Instead, RoseAnn can now devote her time to just enjoying the offerings of her future former employer, as well as community center programs and even senior center programs. An animal lover at heart — especially my canine cousins, which I admit I’ve come to terms with — I expect RoseAnn will be spending even more of her time playing and traveling with them. Maybe even put in another appearance presenting at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this spring? Who knows … all I know is I’ll miss her smiling face, very much, but I know great things still await her.

I’m not retiring, however. Not any time soon, at least, which I hope you will remember next week when it’s time to come back to … read me again.

Bruce the Spruce is ready for St Patrick's Day! —Bee Photo, Hicks
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