WALLINGFORD — An outdoor artificial Christmas tree has been installed downtown, a donation from several local families who privately raised nearly $30,000 for its purchase.
The 30-foot tree is on display for the holiday season at Johanna Manfreda Fishbein Park between the gazebo and historic train station.
The official tree lighting is part of the upcoming Seasons of Celebration event on Saturday, Dec. 7, but the tree is slated to be lit during the Downtown Holiday Stroll the night before.
The purchase was facilitated by Wallingford Center Inc., the group’s executive director Liz Landow said, at no cost to taxpayers.
The tree cost about $25,000, she said, and including the 5-foot star, the total cost is closer to $28,000.
Landow said she had wanted to get an artificial tree for the past few years, since it was getting more difficult to find a decent tree locally.
The trees they were finding over the last four or five years were not in great shape and were costly to take down, she said.
While researching artificial trees with Roz Gallagher, Public Celebrations Committee chairwoman, “we were able to get some really generous families in town to donate so that we could purchase one that lasts 20 to 30 years,” Landow said.
Although the names of the families weren’t immediately available, a plaque is slated to be placed near the tree commemorating their gift.
“Everyone we asked, they said, ‘absolutely,’” she said.
Town Councilor John LeTourneau discussed the artificial tree recently on WPAA’s “The Citizen Mike Show.”
He said that in past years, the town has spent $5,000 to $7,000 annually on the tree. Purchasing an artificial tree hasn’t been included in past town budgets, he said.
The artificial tree will have all LED lighting, LeTourneau said Friday, offering more light than previous natural trees.Holiday activities, parade
The annual holiday festivities are scheduled for 1-5 p.m. Saturday at the Parade Grounds and Town Hall on South Main Street.
Activities include visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a petting zoo, horse-drawn carriage rides, arts and crafts, games, a photo booth and Roaming Railroad rides for children.
Attendees can design a card to send to military personnel overseas. There also will be a mailbox to send a letter to Santa and an unwrapped toy collection.
Refreshments include cookies, hot chocolate, candy canes and goodies for kids.
At 5 p.m., the Frosty Parade is slated to depart the Town Hall, led by Frosty, Rudolph, the Toy Soldiers, Lyman Hall High School choral students and the Roaming Railroad and travel down Center Street to the gazebo.
The tree lighting is scheduled for around 5:30 p.m. Music and entertainment includes holiday songs by the Wallingford Chorus, dancing by students at the Judyth Fucci Parks School of Dance, a visit from Mary Poppins and Bert, and Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. reading “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
If the outdoor activities are cancelled due to the weather, there will still be visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus and refreshments inside the Town Hall.Roads to close, parking info
The police department announced last week that temporary road closures are planned for next Saturday during the holiday activities.
South Main Street between Center and Prince streets is slated to close to all motor vehicle traffic between 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday. Hall Avenue between North Colony Road (Route 5) and east of the railroad crossing is slated to close between 5-6:30 p.m. Saturday.
In anticipation of the road closures, there will be no parking on South Main Street between Center Street and Prince Street beginning at 11:30 a.m. and for the duration of the event, and no parking on Hall Avenue east of the railroad tracks beginning at 5 p.m. for the duration of the ceremony.
Vehicles parked in violation of this prohibition will be subject to the issuance of a parking ticket by police and removal by tow truck.