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Westport Flips the Switch on Christmas

WESTPORT, Conn. – The front lawn of Westport Town Hall is more colorful now thanks to the string of lights wrapped around the large Norway Spruce. On Thursday evening, hundreds of residents watched as the tree was lit up during a town-sanctioned outdoor Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

“This is the first outdoor lighting ceremony we’ve had in many, many years,” First Selectman Gordon Joseloff told onlookers before he flipped the switch. “I’m delighted to have it on the front lawn of Town Hall.”

The town has, for as long as Joseloff said he remembers, held an annual tree lighting ceremony in the lobby of Town Hall. The tree, donated to the town a few years back by then-Third Selectman John Izzo, is decorated by the Westport Historical Society.

The lighting of this indoor Christmas tree — which in the past was referred to as a “Heritage Tree” — is a tradition that will continue, Joseloff said.

Joseloff said the Downtown Merchants Association used to host an outdoor ceremony on Main Street. However, it’s been more than five years since one has been held.

“I was elected in 2005, and my first official duty was to light the Christmas tree,” he said.

Resident Carolyn Malvezzi, who has lived in town for three years, said she was happy when she found out the town was hosting a tree lighting.

“I grew up in a town that annually had a tree-lighting ceremony on the town green,” she said. “Our first Christmas here, I remember asking my neighbors when the town’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony was and they said ‘We don’t have one.’ I couldn’t believe it.”

After the ceremony, Malvezzi said Westport “feels more like home” than ever before.

Before the tree was lit, Joseloff wished everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah and a happy holiday.

“This is a time when we should all come together, no matter what we believe, because we’re all Westporters,” he said.

Afterward, many onlookers walked across the road to the Westport Historical Society for free hot cocoa.

Just up the road, hundreds of residents gathered at Christ & Holy Trinity Church for a holiday celebration featuring free food, live music, ice sculpture demonstrations, a visit from Santa Claus and a nonprofit fair. The free event was organized by the Downtown Merchants Association.

“We’re having a blast,” resident Abigail Boston said as her sons Spence, 3, and Jack, 5, visited with Santa. “After this, I’m looking forward to looking at the different nonprofits and figuring out who we can give to.”

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