A brighter holiday's coming to a town near you

DANBURY -- Work crews strung more than 40,000 light bulbs throughout the city's downtown ahead of next week's annual tree lighting.

The event is one of several tree lightings taking place throughout the area in the next few days to kick-start the holiday season.

"The whole center of the city is going to be lit up," said Andrea Gartner , the executive director of CityCenter. "Every year we try to add more lights to the downtown."

She added that city public works department crews have been installing new electrical service along the grassy medians on Main Street to light trees along the median.

At least four larger trees, near the intersection of Main and Liberty streets, will be added to the downtown display this year.

Crews with NY-Conn Corp. said they installed about 400 strings of lights on 38 trees in the downtown.

"I really enjoy doing it," said Newtown resident Jim Bent , a NY-Conn Corp. employee. "It gives you a great sense of satisfaction to see it all lit up. I like to bring my son down to take a look at them."

Danbury isn't the only municipality adding to its annual tree-lighting celebration. Officials in New Fairfield said they've updated electrical service in their town center because the live trees have grown and more lights are required.

If the weather permits, the town will offer an outdoor screening of the movie "Frosty the Snowman," according to First Selectman John Hodge .

"It's going to be a great start to the holiday season," he said. "There's nothing better than seeing the joy on the children's faces as Santa Claus comes riding into town.

"I think a lot of families are also looking for less expensive ways to celebrate the holidays and get a reprieve from everything that's been going on around us."

While a tree lighting will be held Friday in downtown Bethel at Barnum Square, a new tree-lighting event was held for the first time Sunday in the town's Stony Hill section.

Madeline Blunt, a manager with Union Savings Bank and an organizer of the Stony Hill Four Corners Association, said more than 250 people attended.

As part of the recently formed association's pledge to make every event it sponsors community related, it also held a drive for food banks in Bethel and Newtown. More than 3,000 pounds of food -- two trucks full -- was collected Sunday.

"People were very emotional when they saw the tremendous amount of food that was collected," Bunt said. "In spite of the bitter cold, it was a very festive atmosphere."

Contact Dirk Perrefort at dperrefort@newstimes.com

or at (203) 731-3358

Area tree lightings FRIDAY Bethel The annual downtown tree lighting at Barnum Square in Bethel will be Friday at 5:30 p.m. Festivities begin with horse-drawn carriage rides from noon to 4 p.m. and free hot soup from 2 to 5 p.m. Caroling runs from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. and Santa Claus arrives at 5:30 p.m. Ridgefield A tree-lighting ceremony is set for Friday at 6:30 p.m. in front of Ridgefield Town Hall. Santa Claus is expected to arrive at 6:35 p.m. to visit with children in Town Hall's downstairs conference room, reached from Bailey Avenue. Downtown stores will be open for business. Newtown Newtown's annual tree lighting will be Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Ram's Pasture, routes 25 and 302. SATURDAY New Milford A tree-lighting ceremony Saturday at 5:30 p.m. on the New Milford Green will feature entertainment by the cast of the TheatreWorks ' production of "Oliver." Santa will arrive by fire truck and help with the countdown to the lighting. SUNDAY New Fairfield The town's annual tree lighting at Memorial Field, behind Town Hall on Brushy Hill Road, will be Sunday at 4 p.m. . There will be complimentary refreshments, entertainment by the high school's chamber singers, and -- if weather permits -- an outdoor screening of the movie "Frosty the Snowman." Photo opportunities will be available, but parents should bring their own cameras. TUESDAY Danbury The city's annual tree-lighting celebration will be Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Library Plaza , outside Danbury Library , 170 Main St. Cast members from the Western Connecticut State University production of "A Christmas Carol" will sing holiday carols, and Santa will visit.