For several days before the somber anniversary of 12/14, First Selectman Pat Llodra led a panel of community leaders through a half-dozen press conferences that were attended by state, regional, and national media. It was her hope that media outlets would have enough material to report on Newtown without needing to be in town on or around December 14. At the same time, the first selectman used her national platform to request that people across the nation and around the globe honor the fallen teachers and students of Sandy Hook School by performing acts of kindness in their own communities. In the weeks since those press conferences, Mrs Llodra’s office has received numerous correspondence from around the country from groups and individuals who responded to her humble request.
Donna Kern Ball cleared the shelves at two local supermarkets of Hostess products when it was time to start collecting baked goods for her third entry in the annual Festival of Lighthouses Contest at The Maritime Aquarium. Hundreds of Twinkies, Ho Hos, and Hostess cupcakes went into the creation of this year’s offering, currently on view at the South Norwalk venue. "Twinkie, Twinkie, Little Lighthouse" is one of 22 entries in the 12th Annual Festival of Lighthouses Contest at The Maritime Aquarium. Ms Ball and a friend won the contest two years ago. The Newtown resident is hoping to return to top of the prize pile when winners of this year's contest are announced on January 23. Meanwhile, the public has until January 20 to visit The Maritime Aquarium and vote for their favorite construction.
Offering more than 60 square miles of a winter wonderland for those who like the outdoors, Newtown holds a diversity of scenery and history. Noting sites including the flagpole and “quaint Main Street and Edmond Town Hall,” Town Historian Daniel Cruson says there are hidden gems everywhere. In addition to historic scenery and old homes and architecture, which are mentioned in Mary Mitchell and Albert Goodrich’s book, "Touring Newtown’s Past," Newtown offers an abundance of hiking trails including beautiful locations in the Upper and Lower Paugussett State Forests, Orchard Hill Nature Center, Rocky Glen State Park, and Hattertown Historic District, among others. A visit to the town library, and talks with Dan Cruson, recently resulted in one Bee reporter heading out to find some of the town's prettiest winter locations.
Almost 200 cyclists gathered at Fairfield Hills on a bright clear Saturday, December 21, to take part in the first Newtown Cyclocross, a cross-country bicycling competition held in the late months of the year that challenged participants to ride across a range of terrain — Newtown Cyclocross was a joint project of the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program (CCAP) and Team 26. The event raised funds for both groups. CCAP is a Middletown-based private, nonprofit group that seeks a create a support system for youth development in the sport of cycling. Team 26 is a group of 26 cyclists who promote gun control in the wake of 12/14.
Nearly three dozen children accepted the invitation to the Royal Party hosted by The Resiliency Center of Newtown on Monday, December 23, singing along with music therapist Jennifer Sokira, making crowns, wands, and shields with art therapists Nicole Porter-Willcox and Lisa Donohue-Olivieri, and dining on pizza provided by Franco’s Pizza & Pasta of Newtown.
Rock and roll sounds from Quicksand Planet and Ursuland bands kept the room jumping Sunday, December 22 during the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission & HealingNewtown Holiday Party. Newtown Congregational Church’s Great Room was filled with festivities for families and children for four hours on Sunday, as the event beckoned guests, offering carols, Hearts of Hope, Newtown Juggling & Circus Arts Club performers, and arts and crafts table, circle of love, and more. Also in attendance on Sunday was Valerie Culbertson, the new director of HealingNewtown, who said organizers had aimed for a festive event that would attract a large crowd. Party planners must have been pleased, considering the large number of people who turned out for the event.
This is the 15th and final installation of a series of stories that have shared special events that have taken place as Newtown began healing following 12/14. In this installation of "Gestures of Kindness," view a photo taken by a Sandy Hook resident in Norwalk of a longtime holiday tradition that incorporated the victims of 12/14 in this year's display; dance studios that have made donations to a Newtown dance studio for a scholarship fund named to honor three dancers lost that morning; a former Newtown family encouraging kindness in their community in Pennsylvania; and a group of women in Monroe who have begun sharing kindness by building handmade dolls for children at The Ronald McDonald House in New Haven.