FAIRFIELD, CT — A new chapter has begun for Fairfield’s Tree of Hope, which was a source of some scrutiny over the summer.
The tree, which is located on Sherman Green and was donated to the town in 2019, will now be lit on a rotating basis by various community organizations that benefit children and families.
The Fairfield Equity Coalition became the first group to light up the tree Saturday, after the Fairfield Parks and Recreation Commission voted in July to implement a rotation that would spotlight a variety of organizations. Prior to that, the tree had been managed by its donor, Al DiGuido, of Saugatuck Sweets and Al’s Angels.
The tree became a subject of controversy early this summer after Parks and Recreation Department Director Anthony Calabrese granted permission for it to be lit from March to July at a time when the commission was not meeting due to the coronavirus pandemic. The commission had previously only approved the tree to be lit during the holiday season. A Change.org petition calling for the tree stay lit in the summer gained more than 1,700 signatures.
DiGuido donated the tree lights used by the Fairfield Equity Coalition, which will light the tree for the rest of September. The coalition is a youth-led organization that advocates for equitable policy and curriculum changes within Fairfield schools and raises awareness about injustices against marginalized groups within the community.
In October, the Pink Pledge campaign for the Norma Pfriem Breast Center will take over tree-lighting duties. In addition to lights, organizations may create a temporary lawn sign with donation QR codes as well as website and social media links for display in front of the tree.
The commission was set to vote Wednesday on the tree-lighting schedule through July 2021, according to Board of Education representative Jessica Gerber.