Way Back When … 1918
As families gather tonight to enjoy the lighting of the tree on the Town Hall Green, here’s a little history about that tree. The 90-foot tall Norway spruce is currently the tallest living tree that gets lit during the holiday season in Connecticut. According to the Town of Fairfield Parks & Recreation Commission, it was one of three trees donated to the town of Fairfield by the Daughters of the American Revolution in December 1918.
Fairfield Magazine noted in a story from 2010 that “by 1959, the tree had topped 60 feet. Fairfield Fire Chief Richard Felner recalls … using a ladder truck to decorate it. Today, the tree lighting is a full event overseen by Parks & Recreation program coordinator Ginna Paules, with the support of the fire department, public works, and police.”
Thinking ahead, the Town of Fairfield actually planted its “future” tree in 2013. According to an article published in 2013 in the Fairfield Citizen, a 12-14 foot Norway spruce was again donated by the Daughters of the American Revolution's local chapter in recognition of Arbor Day that year. It will become the town's Christmas tree after the Norway spruce that the Town currently lights on the first Friday in December has to come down. (How long before that will happen? According to then-Fairfield Tree Warden Ken Placko, it’s impossible to say: “It could be next year, it could be 20 years.”) The new tree is expected to grow 2 to 3 feet a year.
"It's a traditional Christmas tree," Placko said of the smaller tree. "It's one of the reasons we picked it out." First Selectman Michael Tetreau noted that "Like many towns, Fairfield is forward thinking and forward planning. We're bringing in our backup Christmas tree now," he said. Cathy Tymniak of the DAR's Eunice Dennie Burr chapter, said the Christmas tree was dedicated to the late Annie B. Jennings, a philanthropist. Jennings, through the local DAR chapter, was instrumental in donating the first Christmas tree to the town. (That tree still stands at the corner of Beach and Old Post roads and is the one that will be illuminated tonight.)
Tonight’s festivities begin at 5:55pm with local choirs singing songs of the season. Hot chocolate will be served and free glow necklaces will be given out by members of the Town Youth Council. First Selectman, Mike Tetreau will do the countdown to light the tree at 7:00 pm and Santa Claus arrives by Fire Engine soon after that. In addition, a reception put on by the DAR will take place in Old Academy and the Fairfield Museum & History Center will open its Holiday Express Train Show from 5-8pm with refreshments and crafts. Admission for the opening night is $3 per person or $10 for a group of four, with children 5 and under and Members admitted for free.
Parks & Rec., Local 1426 Fairfield Fire Fighters and the Fairfield Fire Rescue sponsor this event with assistance from Fairfield Public Works Department and the Fairfield Police Department.
The year the Daughters of the American Revolution donated the Norway spruce on the town green.
The Fairfield Museum & History Center and Museum Shop, located at 370 Beach Road, is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Members of the museum and children under 5 are admitted free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit Fairfieldhistory.org. The Fairfield Museum relies on funding from individuals, corporations and foundations.