Tree lighting ceremony is this evening

Jack Hughes puts the finishing touches on lamp post decorations on Main Street last Thursday, Nov. 21. Volunteers from the American Legion help put up 114 garlands with 100 bulbs each on 57 village light poles — two garlands per pole. Families can sponsor one of the poles with one of three seasonal greeting tags — “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year,” and  “Warm Wishes” — for $150. —Steve Coulter photo

Jack Hughes puts the finishing touches on lamp post decorations on Main Street last Thursday, Nov. 21. Volunteers from the American Legion help put up 114 garlands with 100 bulbs each on 57 village light poles — two garlands per pole. Families can sponsor one of the poles with one of three seasonal greeting tags — “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year,” and “Warm Wishes” — for $150. —Steve Coulter photo

Songs, Santa and lights — 16,000 of them, to be exact — will help kick off the holiday season Friday evening and bring that unmatched sparkle to Ridgefield’s historic Main Street.

The annual tree lighting ceremony takes place this evening, beginning at 5:45 p.m. in front of town hall.

“There are several different meanings to the lighting of the trees,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi. “Most important is the community celebrating the holiday season together and sharing this positive experience. The kids and adults are almost equally excited for this time of the year, and that there are a multitude of religious holidays being celebrated, so it’s really an event to jump-start everything.

“We want everyone in the community to be well and safe during this holiday season.”

Carolers from the Wooster School choral group will set the mood from 6 to 6:30, providing a festive feel with  holiday tunes.

“There will be several groups participating from Wooster,” Mr. Marconi said. “A variety of ages from grammar school to senior year of high school.”

This year the honorary flipping of the light switch will be done by Dick and Dee Aarons, who voluntarily help lead Ridgefield’s emergency operations center, at 6:30.

Mr. Marconi said the Aaronses were chosen for this honor because they helped the town through three harsh storms in 2011 and 2012.

They aren’t the only volunteers worthy of commendation though.

Volunteers from the American Legion put up 114 garlands with 100 bulbs each on 57 village light poles — two garlands per pole — last Thursday, Nov. 21.

“George Besse, commander, and his band are responsible for putting them up on the posts,” said Mike Liberta of the Lions Club, who organized the effort. “And did a heroic job.”

A crew of five Lions Club members put in 75 man-hours changing over all the incandescent bulbs to new energy-saving LED bulbs — 11,400 of them.

The glow of Main Street will be hard to miss, but the most radiant twinkle may come from the faces of the children who wait for Santa and Mrs. Claus to come riding into town on a fire truck.

Once the switch is flipped, and all the trees lit, Santa will arrive at approximately 6:40.

“His flight plan has been approved by the FAA and Danbury Airport has been alerted,” Mr. Marconi confirmed. “We hope, depending on the weather, of course, Santa arrives on time.”

There will be a brief opportunity for kids to get a photo with Old St. Nick when he steps off the truck. Then he goes into the lower level conference room of town hall to pose with children and listen to their wishes.

St. Stephen’s Church is inviting all residents for “carols and cocoa” in the church’s North Hall on Main Street after the tree-lighting events. There will be cookies, refreshments and Bruce’s famous hot chocolate — named for parishioner Bruce Simon.

Mr. Marconi is predicting at least a thousand people will show up for the festivities and advises that, despite the big crowds, the roads will not be closed, so parents need to keep a close watch on their kids.

He is stressing one other important, non-safety item.

“We beg everyone to shop locally,” he said. “Support our local merchants, because without them all of this wouldn’t be possible.”

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