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We extend our condolences this week to the family of John Hallock, who died earlier this month. A former Newtown resident and longtime Bethlehem resident, John was a master metal sculptor and restorer of antique metal work. If you don’t already recognize his name, you probably know our favorite work of his. John designed and created the gilt copper weather vane that has proudly flown over our Church Hill Road office since June 1974. He also created the beautiful gilded dove of peace weather vane for Newtown Congregational Church and was hired at least once to regild the historic rooster weather vane atop Newtown Meeting House.

Unfortunately our beautiful weather vane has been vandalized a few times. The most recent attack was in 2005, which is when this photo was taken. That’s former employee Bette MacCarthy holding our big bee before it returned to the cupola atop our building. There’s a series of photos from that day, and we love it because the photos offer a rare close-up view of John’s work. The series also shows how large that piece of art is! It really is a beautiful piece of art, and we will think of John for many years to come. If you’d like to learn a little more about him, his obituary is on page A3 of this week’s paper and also on our website.

Did You Know … there is evidence that the earliest scarecrows date back to ancient Egypt around 3,000 years ago, where farmers created costume figures to scare birds away from wheat fields along the Nile River.

Scarecrows are beginning to populate Fairfield Hills. They aren’t trying to scare crows away from any crops, of course. Nope, these are the first of this year’s entries for the 4th Annual Newtown Parks & Recreation Scarecrow Contest. There were about half a dozen in the Hills as of early this week but there could be up to 100 if all available lampposts are claimed. Families, friends, clubs, businesses, et al, will be putting their scarecrows on view by October 25. That means there’s still time to create your own scarecrow if you haven’t already entered. Cost is $25 per scarecrow, and all details are available at the Parks & Rec website (newtown-ct.gov/parks-recreation). Proceeds this year will benefit future pickleball courts in town.

The public is invited to vote October 26-30. Ballots will be available from the front desk just inside Newtown Community Center, 8 Simpson Street, and downloadable from the Parks & Rec website. And honestly, in years past, the good folks at Parks & Rec have accepted votes that are just clearly written on a piece of paper, so don’t fret if you don’t get an official ballot. This is meant to be a fun, friendly contest. Not something to stress over. Vote for your choice of Most Original, Newtown Pride, and People’s Choice. Each person can vote once each day during the voting period, and winners will be announced on Halloween. There is no cost to vote, but please keep things honest and do vote only once each day. Winners will again pick up bragging rights for the year, along with the chance for a Summer 2024 Family Pool & Beach Membership Pass or assorted tier prizes donated by local businesses.

Tractor Supply Company is inviting customers to celebrate the Halloween season with a pet photo event at its Newtown store. This Saturday (October 21) between 11 am and 3 pm, customers are invited to bring in their four-legged family members, with or without costume, to have their photos taken by KBP Photography. The first 25 participants will also receive a free magnetic picture frame. The local Tractor Supply Company is at 116 South Main Street. Reservations are not needed, but you can call 203-270-1197 if you have questions.

One more Halloween note for this week: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices at 84A South Main Street also is collecting candy for the homeowners along Main Street, who will receive hundreds if not a few thousand costumed visitors on October 31. I’m very sorry. I didn’t know that when I offered a list in last week’s column of places where readers can donate candy ahead of that fun event (which is, again, not a Town-sanctioned event; it’s just something that has grown in tremendous popularity over the years).

While many events are being planned to celebrate autumn and Halloween, let’s also remember that in just a few weeks it will be time to honor and celebrate our veterans. Men and women who have served in any branch of the Armed Forces are invited to the Newtown High School Veterans Day celebration on Friday, November 10. Veterans and a guest will enjoy an early lunch followed by a Veterans Day Program in the NHS auditorium featuring guest speakers and music from Newtown High School students. This year’s featured speaker is retired high school English teacher and football coach Dennis Mannion, who is also a Connecticut native and US Marine Corps veteran. Dennis enlisted in 1966, and began training at Parris Island, S.C., in January 1967. He was deployed to Vietnam nine months later. He was one of the soldiers who fought in the 77-day Siege of Khe Sanh, which started January 21, 1968, and was one of the longest and most protracted battles of the Vietnam War. He returned home in October 1968 with two Purple Hearts, a Presidential Unit Citation, and the Combat Infantry Ribbon. He was honorably discharged from the US Marine Corps in December 1969 with the rank of Sergeant. Dennis has reportedly inspired students for years. He will share much more of his personal story next month, and those who attend will learn about the important connection between him and our current Superintendent of Schools, Chris Melillo. There is no fee to attend the program, but reservations are required by November 1; contact Rebecca Gehrken at gehrkenr@newtown.k12.ct.us or 203-426-7647 extension 6559.

Newtown Youth & Family Services is this month’s Stop & Shop Community Bag Program beneficiary. For each $2.50 reusable Give Back bag purchased at the Sand Hill Plaza location before October 31, NYFS will receive a $1 donation.

Many people in Newtown and across the region have benefited from Ann’s Place and its support of cancer patients and survivors. A few of my fellow Bees have been down the scary path of cancer, and have nothing but good words about their experiences with the Danbury-based nonprofit. Organizers are well into planning and work for the 9th Annual Ann’s Place Festival of Trees, returning November 17-19 to The Summit at Danbury. Want to get into the holiday spirit now? Registration is open for those who would like to decorate and donate a tree to be auctioned off during the festival. Each tree is handcrafted by a group or individual and donated to the festival. Donors can theme their tree around a loved one, a favorite place, a business, even a favorite music group or creature (hint hint). Registration is due October 30, and then trees are due by 6 pm November 5. In addition to raising funds through the auction and providing a major source of entertainment for festival attendees, trees will be judged by a panel in categories for Best in Show, Most Festive, Best Use of Materials, Most Clever Idea, Most Whimsical, and Best Representation of Christmas. Depending on the height of the donated tree, donors will receive two or four festival admission passes. Visit annsplacefestivaloftrees.org for full details.

Congratulations Aquila’s Nest Vineyard, who recently learned it is Climate Neutral Certified for 2023, the second year in a row for the Sandy Hook property.

I think it’s time for me to make a nest and curl up for another nap. I hope you won’t forget to come back next week to … read me again.

Former Bee Publishing Company employee Bette MacCarthy holds our signature John Hollock bee weathervane before it returned to the cupola atop our building in September 2005. —Bee file photo
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1 comment
  1. tomj says:

    I am all for companies being mindful of their carbon emissions. I dont think being able to buy your way out of the problem by purchasing credits by “avoiding deforestation” is the right think. In short, looking at Aquila’s documents, they recycle (state law) and buy credits. I prefer to champion businesses that reduce GHG Scope 1 using active on-site products. Look at what the Jackson Family, solar brewing or even local Nod Hill have done. They have invested in reducing greenhouse gas, Aquila just pays $1200 a year.

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