Scouts find ornaments, cookies during annual tree pickup

The Christmas spirit lived on in Ridgefield last weekend when Boy Scouts from Troop 116 — braving near zero-degree temperatures — conducted their annual tree pickup around town.

“A few people left treats and goodies along with their trees and donations today, and we were really touched and moved by these gestures,” said organizer and parent Tizzie Mantione. “Everything from hard candies, cookies and chocolates. So sweet!”

Cookies weren’t the only item that Scouts found during their collections.

Mantione said the Scouts recovered two ornaments and are trying to return them to their rightful owners.

“Last year we returned three,” she said.

The operation, which includes about 60 Scouts and 40 adult volunteers, began at 6 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, and went until about 1:30 p.m.

The next day, three college-aged alumni — graduates of Troop 116 — volunteered to be part of the annual “sweep crew” that picks up the trees that were missed.

“They were buried in snow, put out too late, blew away, or for whatever other reason,” Mantione said.

Last Thursday’s snowfall wasn’t the biggest obstacle the Scouts had to overcome.

“Exposure is today’s No. 1 safety priority,” said Tom Mantione, who has used donated mapping software from Route4Me the last four years to organize the pickup process.

“We’re used to battling the elements,” he added. “We were picking up trees last year, and Connecticut went into a state of emergency because there was a snowstorm that day.”

The collected trees were chipped at the town’s transfer station and that mulch will be used on Main Street in the spring.

“The kids will spread the mulch in a couple of months, which is pretty cool,” Tom Mantione said. “It really comes full circle.”