By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
BEACON FALLS — As town workers last week removed the “Signs of Hope” that lined the streetscape downtown for the winter, new “believe” signs are taking their place to continue the message of hope throughout the holidays.
The initiative, called “Operation Believe,” is the brainchild of resident Victor Santos, who is also a volunteer firefighter with Beacon Hose Co. No. 1.
Santos, 42, was busy last week hanging 22 white flags with “Believe” spelled out in red letters above a bell with a flowing red ribbon on them along the streetscape and Veterans Park downtown.
He also bought 22 sets of garlands, bows and lights to decorate downtown.
“I walked by the signs every day,” said Santos referring to the colorful wooden signs with inspirational messages painted on them that sprouted along the streetscape in the spring as the COVID-19 outbreak first gripped the state. “I would count them every day. When I saw the email that they would get rid of it, I thought there needs to be something to replace it.”
Santos spoke with First Selectman Gerard Smith and Beacon Hose officials about his idea, and they were fully behind it. Beacon Hose reimbursed Santos, and Smith provided the flags.
Operation Believe started when Santos and his wife, Maria, bought 300 silver inch-and-a-half bells with the word “Believe” on them to give to the children at Laurel Ledge Elementary School and United Day School. He planned to deliver the bells this week.
“My wife and I wanted to do something for the kids in town because of everything going on,” said Santos, whose daughter, Juliette, is in second grade at Laurel Ledge.
The initiative evolved from there. Beacon Hose is selling “Believe” yard signs at the firehouse for $10 each, while supplies. For information, call the firehouse at 203-729-1470.
The proceeds from the sale of the yard signs will go toward next year’s Operation Believe, according to Santos.
“Believe can be believe in anything,” Santos said. “Believe that Christmas is here and that we’ll get through this.”
Beacon Hose members also plan to drive throughout town in two firetrucks, each with its own Santa Claus, Dec. 13 to hand out popcorn balls to children, Santos added. The department will post the details on the times and routes online at beaconhose.com.
Smith said it’s great what Santos and Beacon Hose are doing and he’s glad to be a small part of it.
Santos, who has been a town resident for over 15 years and a firefighter for over three years, said Operation Believe started out for the children but has transformed for the whole community. He said his wife always says, “Love lives in this town.”