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UPDATE (Monday, November 27, 2023): This article has been updated to include the correct name of the person in last week's Way We Were and the correct date of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue's Santa Sleigh Rides.

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Thank you to Donna Ball, the Guardian Angel of The Bunny House. After hearing about recent vandalism that forced the closure of the special place hidden within the woods at The Pleasance, Donna once again took it upon herself to work her magic.

Donna’s no stranger to that little glen and its small house. Readers will remember she spent plenty of time there last year, painstakingly removing debris from and then transporting the six statues there to her home studio, where they were repainted and then reinstalled at 1 Main Street. Donna also did a deep clean of The Bunny House, removing shelves and installing a play-size refrigerator; adding toy eggs, plastic garden vegetables, and a collection of woodland creature dolls, among other touches the mother and artist came up with during her labor of love. It was very upsetting to learn someone decided to go onto that property and destroy her work a few weeks ago. We thank Donna for being such a good friend to us, and to those who love visiting that special place for the young and young at heart. Donna has certainly earned a Good Egg Award for her kindness.

Randi Allen Kiely reached out last week to clarify that Route 6 is a US Highway not a state highway, as we had mistakenly referred to it in last week's Way We Were. Randi also reminded us that if you look at highway signs, the shield emblem on those signs denotes a US Highway, while state highway numbers are within a square. US Route 6 and State Route 25 combine on Main Street at the flagpole, and continue to run together to Hawleyville Road, where Route 25 then turns north and heads toward Brookfield and US Route 6 continues west toward Bethel. Randi’s family has always taken pride in living along what is known as The Grand Army of The Republic Highway US 6, which runs from the tip of Cape Cod all the way through to California’s coast. In the photo she shared for last week’s paper, the late Paul Allen stands in front of a bulldozer that daughter Randi now believes was parked in the Buttonball Fleetwood-Buttonwood Drive area in Sandy Hook.

This post-Thanksgiving weekend may be a good time to encourage children to write to Santa. As part of the 2023 Newtown Holiday Festival, The Toy Tree is again collecting those special letters. Letters and a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) should be delivered to the store within The Village at Lexington Gardens, 32 Church Hill Road, by Thursday, December 14. Each child will receive a personalized handwritten response from the North Pole.

I noticed this week that Baum Braces is also hosting its Letters To Santa mailbox in front of its office at 23 Church Hill Road. Children can drop letters (and those equally important SASEs) into that mailbox until December 19, and they too will receive a reply from Mr North Pole.

You know what else is happening this weekend? Christmas Tree sales at Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company’s main station! A few hundred trees will be delivered to the Riverside Road firehouse first thing Friday morning, and company members will begin selling them at noon. Wreaths, cemetery/Christmas boxes, kissing balls and other decorative items will also be available, Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturdays and Sundays, until the inventory sells out. Readers should note: last year’s sale ended in just three weekends. All proceeds benefit the first company, who will also be hosting another special event in just a few weekends.

Santa Sleigh Rides will also return to the Sandy Hook main station this holiday season. Firefighters there are getting ready to welcome Santa and his friends from Tolland Fire on Saturday, December 9. Santa plans to be in town to start offering rides on his sleigh at 12:30, and promises to stay until everyone in line gets their chance to join him and his elves for a ride. Sandy Hook VFR’s Ladies Auxiliary will again be offering light refreshments and activities for children. Donations will be accepted, and will again benefit Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue.

Final call if you’d like to help Newtown Ecumenical Workcamp Servants (NEWS) during the group’s first fundraiser of the 2023-24 season. Ahead of a June trip to Biloxi, Miss., it’s time for the annual NEWS Poinsettia Sale. Cost is $32 per pot, with each pot to contain your choice of three red or white plants. The fundraiser continues until November 26, with delivery the following weekend. Contact Laura Terry at LauraLTerry@Live.com or 203-470-3547 if you’d like to place an order or for additional information.

For just a few more weeks, readers can send a music-filled, decorated holiday float to the Newtown resident of their choice through Hope on Main Street’s 2023 Jingle Jam For A Cause. On Sunday, December 10, Team Hope will navigate around town, stopping at the homes of cancer patients and survivors (“Warriors”) just long enough to raise their spirits with some music. The deliveries will take place between 4 and 7 that afternoon, and can be arranged through a minimum $20 donation. All funds will go directly to American Cancer Society, so that survivors and their families can benefit from all the services offered by ACS. To nominate a Warrior, visit hopeonmainstreet.com before midnight December 7, make that donation, and then in the Comments section provide the name and address of the Warrior (and make sure your Warrior is home during those hours in a few weeks).

Another group doing great things, the Newtown High School wrestling team is gearing up for its 2023-24 season and hoping for some financial support. The Nighthawks completed its 2022-23 season with a 17-2 dual record, third place at CT State Opens (out of 92 teams!), and 15th place at the New England Championships (out of 167 teams!). They also had seven Academic All-State Awards and five National Academic All-Americans. Heading into 2023-24, the team has six wrestlers ranked in the Top 12 across New England and four who made the “Pound For Pound” Top 20 ranking for each graduation class. Newtown is also ranked the #10 Tournament Team across 167 teams in New England. While NHS covers most of the team’s costs, the wrestlers are asking for donations to support the purchase of a team video camera, which will allow the filming of all varsity matches and help with recruiting videos; hotel stays; and coaching support. If you are interested, the team has a $3,000 goal through a gofundme campaign. All donations will be administered by the board of Nighthawk Wrestling Booster Club, and 100 percent of the funds will benefit our wrestlers and all gifts are tax deductible. Search for NHS Wrestling Team Fundraiser at gofundme to find the campaign, and additional details on what the funds will be used for.

The 2023 Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Season was very successful, according to numbers recently shared by The CMAK Foundation. This past summer, 29 different sites across four states hosted just shy of 800 children, who all trained and competed together. The planned finale in Rhode Island was cancelled, unfortunately, but it needed to be: The finale would have taken place during that miserable heat wave we had in August. Nevertheless, in its tenth year of operation, Race4Chase surpassed its 5,000th participant, sent 75 bikes to new homes, taught 111 children how to ride a bike, and another 113 learned how to swim.

As mentioned recently in this paper, CMAK also continued its support for the preschool program at the Greater Waterbury YMCA for the tenth year. A $20,000 donation in October was done to honor what would have been Chase Kowalski’s 18th birthday. Chase’s parents, Rebecca and Stephen, have been very open about the fact that attending preschool helped their son work through a speech delay that initially made it difficult for him to communicate with other children in his class. His teachers and the preschool experience gave their son greater confidence in his speech. The donation to the Greater Waterbury YMCA School Readiness Program brought the cumulative donations total by CMAK to $220,000, which has provided tuition assistance for approximately 200 families each year.

There is so much good happening in and around Newtown. It’s always so heartening to hear something positive (or paw-sitive, as my feline friends prefer). Let’s keep doing good for another week, and check in with each other next week when you come back to … read me again.

Donna Ball gets a Good Egg Award this week for going above and beyond in keeping a loving eye on The Bunny Garden at The Pleasance.
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