A post by First Selectman Pat Llodra at OneNewtown.org suggests it is time for all residents to move “into a quiet period of rest, recuperation, and healing.”
On Thursday, June 27, Mrs Llodra used her blog to announce that while countless offers have been extended to residents in the days, weeks, and months following 12/14, the Town of Newtown has decided that no additional special events will be added to the town’s calendar, for at least July and August.
Meanwhile, she points out, there are still “several major events and activities designed to provide opportunities for children and families to enjoy while school is not in session.” No activities have been cancelled.
On Monday, July 1, Mrs Llodra spoke about the post, the thinking behind it, and responses that she had heard since the announcement four days earlier.
“My sense is, we need to be done with these major events, and spend some time with a respite. Local events will continue; I don’t have a role or response in what others do,” she said. “But I think in terms of outside activities, and outside groups, I think it’s time to say thank you, and we need to decline any further offers.”
The message posted last week, and reiterated Monday morning, is that on behalf of the Town of Newtown, Mrs Llodra feels it is time to “step back and be less involved in major events,” she said.
Newtown has been the home of dozens of special events, or its residents have been invited to a number of locations, since the shootings at Sandy Hook School on December 14, 2012. Residents of all ages have been special guests at games of the New York Giants and New England Patriots, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Members of the Patriots also visited Newtown, presenting a clinic at Newtown High School in May. Tickets to Monster Jam, a Christian music concert in Bridgeport, and even a visit by three monster trucks in May have all been arranged in recent months.
The Boston Bruins, the UConn women’s basketball family, Major League Soccer, Connecticut Football Club, Quinnipiac University, Broadway stars, two dozen children’s authors and illustrators, Peter Yarrow, and James Taylor are among those who have offered what they could to bring some solace to Newtown in the past 6½ months.
This coming weekend is another special event: a second invitation by the New York Yankees for more than 4,000 residents to enjoy Newtown Day. Thousands of free tickets have been given away for Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, and countless others have been sold at discounted prices. A color guard of local firefighters and police officers will again take the field, and other events are reportedly being planned.
Many of these events were organized with Newtown’s leaders; others were done through the town library or organizations that worked on their own to bring something to town. Mrs Llodra believes it is time for the town to take a breather.
“This is a message,” she said Monday morning, “to the generous organizations that have been so incredibly kind to us. We’ve had some wonderfully exciting events for us.
“My own sense is we are ready to take a step back and be less involved in the major events, as compared to the past couple of months,” she said.
Mrs Llodra has been thinking about this decision, she said, for a couple of months.
“My personal sense is, part of our gaining that sense of rest and the capacity to reflect, and move forward, really requires some down time.
“We have been unable — many have been — to capture that down time because of the volume of activity that we have had in town — all very generous,” she reiterated. “But all of it has come because of the tragedy of 12/14.”
The decision was hers alone, she said.
“This is not a policy issue, not a Board of Selectmen issue. It’s my own sense of the community, my instinct for what we need as a community, and what would best serve us as we begin to gear up for the next school year, and the challenges that come forward,” she said. The Sandy Hook School building project is a major plan that lies ahead for the town.
“We have municipal things ahead of us,” she said.
Mrs Llodra had been thinking about this step for a few months, she said. She has also been listening to what residents have been telling her.
“I’ve been … increasingly hearing from folks that the level of activity is difficult,” she said. “So again, we want to thank everyone for their kindness, but my own personal sense is that we are at a point as a community, and individually, that some restful time would do us well.
“We appreciate it, but we are ready to spend some time doing other things,” she said a few minutes later.
Thursday’s announcement, Mrs Llodra pointed out, does not mean groups and organizations have to stop offering special events.
“I am only speaking for the town,” she said. “Individuals are certainly welcome to do everything and anything they choose to do. What I’m speaking for is the municipality, and the town, and the role that we play as we engage with major sports organizations, and corporations, that have brought these wonderful activities to us.”
Two Big Events, One Announced
As part of the June 27 blog post, Mrs Llodra hinted at something when she wrote “the town will respectfully decline any further special events not currently scheduled by the town or currently being planned for July/August.”
On Monday, she clarified that statement.
“What it says is that other than things that are already scheduled,” nothing more will be added to the town calendar, she said.
As of July 1 there were two “significant, but unannounced events,” she said, adding, “Nickelodeon has arranged for a concert to be held here later in July [see related story, “A Big Reason To Like Summer Break: Big Time Rush!”], and the Mets are offering to do something early in August, and that would involve a clinic, at CitiField, in New York, much like Newtown Day at Yankee Stadium.”
After those two events, the Town of Newtown will be done with social events of the type and scale it has been undertaking since the beginning of the year.
“There will still be many things that local organizations do to fundraise … or to honor different families in general, or to celebrate the town,” said Mrs Llodra. “That’s fine. I have no responsibility or authority to decline any of those.
“I have no role, nor do I have any wish to be involved, in that,” she added. “I am speaking simply of the role of the government in Newtown.”
She has, since Thursday, received “very positive” feedback from residents of the announcements.
“No one has suggested to me that they think it’s a bad decision,” she said.