New Britain City Journal

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Annual Tree Lighting

Santa Claus will be arriving in New Britain Tuesday to help with the New Britain Downtown District’s annual lighting of the Guida Family Christmas Tree.

The lighting celebration will take place between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Central Park, on Main Street, in Downtown New Britain and is free. The annual highlight of the celebration is the lighting of the Guida Family Christmas Tree. The live tree, which was donated by New Britain’s Guida Family, owners of Guida’s Dairy, was donated in 1993 to the City in honor of the Guida Family, and is now more than 30 feet tall.

Features of this year’s event will again include the free horse drawn carriage rides around downtown, a DJ providing holiday tunes, and complimentary hot chocolate and cookies donated by the City of New Britain’s Parks and Recreation Department. At 5:30 the renowned children’s choir, The Main Street Singers, will entertain the crowd with traditional carols. New this year, will be an additional performance by the CCSU University Singers.

“For many of us, this simple, joyous event kicks-off the holiday season,” said Gary Hudkins, of the New Britain Downtown District. “Watching the families in line to see Santa, or to take a turn around Central Park on the horse drawn carriages reminds us of the spirit of the season.”

Special guests at this year’s event will include Mayor Timothy O’Brien, Mr. Jim Guida and of course Santa himself who will be on hand to assist the Mayor and Mr. Guida with the lighting of the tree!

“We estimate 1000 folks attending, Santa generally gets to greet 400 children,” said Hudkins. “And, even in last year’s light drizzle, everyone was in good holiday spirits.”

Following the tree lighting, guests are invited to make their way to the New Britain Public Library at 20 High St. for a complimentary holiday reception with refreshments and entertainment. New for 2011, St. Marks Church at 147 West Main St. is offering a create-a-Holiday craft event with the aid of Student Volunteers from CCSU.

The CCSU Community Central (117 West Main St) has gotten involved with helping the New Britain Department of Youth & Family Services accept gifts for their Annual Holiday Giving Program. CCSU Volunteers will have a table set up at AMATO’s Toy & Hobby store, where gifts can be purchased for donation at a discount. There will be a raffle for those who donate.

The New Britain Youth & Family Services, will be giving all the opportunity to join in the real spirit of the season as they provide donation boxes in support of their annual Holiday Giving Program. They will be accepting food items, gifts, gift cards/certificates that will be used to purchase gifts for needy children.

“For several years, New Britain Department of Youth & Family Services has kicked off their annual “Holiday Giving Program” with a “Select-a-Mitten” for elected officials, city employees & Board of Education employees. This annual event has often fallen on the same date as New Britain Downtown’s Guida Family Tree Lighting event,” said Gerry Amodio, executive director of the Downtown District. “For this year, the NBDD is just helping to encourage the spirit of this event by giving businesses and the public the opportunity to contribute to the vital work of the NBYFS. The New Britain Downtown district is glad to be able to help give a little more visibility to the New Britain Youth and Family Services and the important work that they do.”

According to Chris Montes, administrator of the Community Services Department, 400 to 500 children 0-17 years old and their families will be given a gift and food donation.

For more information, please contact the New Britain Visitors’ Center at 860-229-0878.

“This is truly a family event, often attracting three generations for a youngsters visit and photo with Santa,” added Amodio.