Municipalities foregoing, modifying annual holiday traditions


By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

People gather on the Naugatuck Green for the lighting of the Christmas tree during the annual Light the Night Downtown Festival in Naugatuck in 2019. The borough isn’t holding the festival this year due to COVID-19. – REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN ARCHIVE

Local officials are doing what they can to spread joy this holiday season safely.

As COVID-19 cases surge in Connecticut, local municipalities are either foregoing or modifying their annual holiday traditions.

Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield said the Prospect Volunteer Fire Department is still holding its annual holiday light parade, though people are asked not to congregate together along the parade route.

Instead, Chatfield said spectators can park in lots along the parade route, including at Hotchkiss Field on Waterbury Road and St. Anthony’s Church on Union City Road.

The parade is scheduled for Dec. 13 at 5 p.m. The parade will feature decorated firetrucks from Prospect and surrounding departments. Chatfield said the town’s two new plow trucks will also be decorated and part of the parade.

Anyone who wants to join is welcome to decorate their vehicles and meet on Center Street to line up behind the firetrucks, Chatfield said.

The route will be longer than usual this year.

“Because of what everyone is enduring, we want this to be the biggest parade, to be in the spirit,” Chatfield said.

From Center Street the parade will pass Prospect Town Hall on Route 69 before heading down Scott Road. From there, the parade will make its way to Greenwood Drive and back onto Route 69. The parade will then head down Old Schoolhouse Road onto Straitsville Road to Cambridge Drive before heading back to the center of town.

Chatfield said the town won’t hold its traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony in front of Prospect Town Hall after the parade. Workers will decorate Town Hall, he said, and there will be a couple of surprise decorations.

“I’m hoping that all families can get together and be with their loved ones,” Chatfield said.

Traditionally, Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 leads a Christmas parade in Beacon Falls with lighting ceremonies at Beacon Falls Town Hall, St. Michael’s Church and Beacon Falls Congregational Church along the way.

That won’t be the case this year.

“With the COVID, we’re encouraging people to social distance,” said Jeremy Rodorigo, a firefighter and public information officer with Beacon Hose. “It’s difficult to do anything.”

The volunteer company also is not running its annual Bring Santa Home campaign in which Santa Claus visits homes to drop off gifts got people who sign up.

Instead, Beacon Hose will host Facebook Live story times on Fridays at 8 p.m. through Christmas with the last story time on Christmas Eve, Rodorigo said. A different member of Beacon Hose will read a story each week.

“We’re wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and to stay safe,” Rodorigo said.

Naugatuck officials plann to take advantage of social media as well. The borough is scheduled to host a Christmas tree lighting ceremony Dec. 5 on Facebook Live, Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said.

The borough typically hosts a festival downtown that features a tree lighting ceremony, music, vendors and a visit from Santa Claus.

“Even though we have some limitations, we’re trying everything in our power to make Christmas more meaningful and bring back the true meaning of Christmas,” Hess said.