EASTON, Conn. – About 25 Easton residents joined 10 other Southern Connecticut towns in the Tree of Light ceremony Thursday evening, lighting candles in memory of their lost loved ones.
The ceremony, which was held at the town green across from the fire house, featured poetry readings and inspirational music before the candles were lighted and a tree lighting was held.
Special recognition was given to Russell Neary, the Easton firefighter who died in the line of duty on Oct. 29 during Hurricane Sandy and Connecticut natives Army Spec. Philip Schiller and Brig. Gen. Terence Hildner, who both died in Afghanistan this year.
Tree of Light ceremonies have been held for 22 years in Easton and other Southern Connecticut towns, sponsored by the Visiting Nurses Services of Connecticut, which operates hospices for 8,000 patients a year in Fairfield, New Haven and Litchfield counties.
“It’s an emotional, special program,” said Carol Weinshel, from Fairfield who formerly chaired the program. “It’s Tree of Light, not a Christmas tree, with different color lights to adorn the trees.” The lights are green, blue and white to represent comfort, dignity and peace.
Meredith Bump sang “Tears in Heaven” and other inspirational songs as the candles were lit.
The Varvaro family from Easton was asked to light the tree. “We’re here in honor of John Varvaro who died in 2000,” Estelle Varvaro said. “We’ve been here every year for the past 12 years. The tree was tiny when they first started, now it’s huge.”
After the ceremony, visitors were invited into the firehouse for hot chocolate, cider and snacks provided by Siren Aide of Easton, the ladies auxiliary of the Easton Fire Department.