When Colin and Nicole Grotheer moved into their house on West Rocks Road in Norwalk two years ago, they thought the 35-foot tree in the front yard looked like a big Christmas tree.
While the tree was too massive for them to decorate during the holidays, Colin said he suspects that when the tree was smaller the previous owners ran lights to it because there was an electrical outlet in the front yard.
This year the tree will once again be lit--but this time for the whole city to enjoy.
The Grotheers decided to donate the tree for the city tree lighting this year, which is going to take place at 50 Washington St. in South Norwalk on Dec.1 instead of at City Hall.
The idea came about during a conversation with Colin's friend Eric Raines, a SoNo architect who is also a member of the SoNo Collaborative, a collection of local businesses, residents and other SoNo enthusiasts who serve as the "voice" of SoNo, from simplifying parking to organizing SoNo arts events.
"It's exciting. It's one of those things that is fairly innocuous, but then it turns out being a great thing for the community as well as yourself. You just don't realize you will have such a contribution with such a simple thing," said Colin, who works in SoNo.
"My wife and I are happy to try and renew a tradition that's kind of vanished from the downtown neighborhood and be a part of this reemergence of activity in the SoNo area. I hope these efforts continue to pay dividends for the city."
According to Stacey Hascoe, who works at SoNo Corporate Center and is a member of the SoNo Collaborative, the last year the city had SoNo Park as the location for the official tree lighting for Norwalk was back in the mid 80's.
"The SoNo Collaborative started to ask for the event to be held in SoNo again and many people from the city agreed with us and supported our efforts to make it happen," Hascoe explained Monday via e-mail.
"It has been park of Norwalk's tradition for so many decades. It has been huge community effort to make this happen. We have so many willing supporters and sponsors of this event. Today the tree was installed in the park and the excitement was tangible.
"We, at SoNo Corporate Center, support all events in the park, as it is important to use this space to help cultivate a positive community with lots of activities such as our summer concert series and the Day of the Dead Halloween event for the kids of SoNo. This was our last event and we had more than 100 kids and their parents come enjoy what was for some of these kids their first Halloween Party. It was awesome to see the joy this event brought to them.
"The park acts as an epicenter of SoNo and if we don't use it for the good of the community, then we may not like how it is used otherwise. The tree lighting is a good thing for SoNo and good for all of Norwalk."
The tree lighting ceremony will take place on Dec. 1 at 50 Washington St. beginning at 6:30 p.m. There will be performances by Billy Guenario & Co., Crystal Theatre, Norwalk Community Chorale and members of the Norwalk High School chorus.
Refreshments will be served by the Norwalk Exchange Club and employees from Pepperidge Farm.
Goodies have been generously donated by the following companies: Angela Mia Bakery, Black Bear Saloon, Brewhouse Restaurant, Ripka's Bulls Head Market, Cranbury Market, Michele's Pies, Ola!, Pepperidge Farm, Sono Baking Co., Stew Leonards, Stop & Shop, strada 18 and Yum Nuts. Additional donations have been made by: Aitoro's, Costco, County Portables, Licari Floral Designs, Sassafrass, Taylor Rental and Walmart.
Pepperidge Farm donated the lights that will adorn the tree this year.