By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
BEACON FALLS — Signs of hope are sprouting downtown.
Colorfully-painted wooden signs — about 60 of them as of last Wednesday — with messages like “Bee Happy” and “This 2 Shall Pass” written on them line the streetscape along South Main Street to offer those that drive or walk by an encouraging note during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I come down here once a day to drive by, and it just melts my heart,” said resident Christopher Tucker, who started the movement called “signs of hope.”
Tucker, who is diabetic, was furloughed from his job as a warehouse supervisor at an East Haven lumber yard when the coronavirus hit Connecticut. Tucker and his wife, Christine, knew they wouldn’t be able to see their grandchildren for a while due to precautions, and that hit them hard. That also got them thinking about how youth sports and other activities for children in town have been canceled.
Tucker started making tiny wooden tables for children to put together as a project. That was time consuming, he said, so he changed gears and began making blank wooden signs from lumber laying around his yard. He put the signs at the bottom of his driveway on Skokorat Road, encouraging people to take them for free to paint and put in their yards.
Tucker also posted about the “signs of hope” movement on the “You know you are from Beacon Falls when” Facebook page, and it took off. Tucker estimated that he made about 500 signs as of last week.
“I wanted the kids to have fun,” he said.
Six-year-old Chloe Moir, whose sign was one of the first to go up along the streetscape, said she enjoyed painting her sign.
As the movement gained momentum and signs starting popping up in yards around town, Tucker reached out to his friend and former Selectman Peter Betkoski about creating a public display for the community. Betkoski got Tucker in touch with First Selectman Gerard Smith, and the two decided to display the signs along the streetscape.
The signs aren’t the only new additions to the streetscape. Painted rocks with their own positive messages dot the streetscape courtesy of brothers Daniel Keogh, 11, and Gregory Keogh, 10, who collected and painted them.
The movement provides a reprieve for the community at a time when the coronavirus dominates the news cycle and people’s lives, Smith said.
“It’s been nothing but just positive and uplifting,” said Smith, who added Tucker deserves all the credit.
Tucker received donations of lumber from CM Tree Service and resident Doug Bousquet, a master carpenter, to make signs. He isn’t charging for the signs, but is accepting more donations of lumber to help keep the movement going. He encouraged people to reach out to him through Facebook.
Tucker said he now leaves the blank signs outside the office of Betkoski Brothers at 332 Bethany Road for people to pick up.
“I just want everybody to be safe and enjoy it,” Tucker said. “I know I have.”