Smiles. Laughter. Screams of joy. Newtown children — and parents — were having fun at Treadwell Park in Sandy Hook on Christmas Eve.
The Christmas Eve Snow Angel event may have been postponed due to a lack of snow, but that didn't stop some families from coming out to have some fun with the little bit of snow that was made.
And it all started with one brave mom, who took a look at the dusting of man-made snow on a hill at the park and said, "Oh well, let's give it a try." So she and her kids grabbed their sleds and started what turned out to be an awesome morning of sledding — at the very park that had been the staging ground for state police updates, and a home to media the world over, in the days following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook School on Dec. 14 that took the lives of 20 children and six adults.
That little bit of snow did not come easy. A group of residents stayed up all night trying to get the snow-making machine to work.
The idea for the event belongs to Rob Griffin, according to Audrey Locorotondo, a Newtown resident who volunteered her time to help out. Griffin is active at St. Rose of Lima Church and he owns a snow-making machine, Locorotondo said. He reached out to her son, Mike, who is a volunteer at the Botsford Fire House, to coordinate the use of some hoses and to help out.
Mike and Rob were joined by Mike's father Mark and Kelsey McDonnell of Shelton, Mike's girlfriend who considers Newtown her second home. The group was at Treadwell all night trying to get Rob's machine working properly, but it just wasn't happening.
Reinforcements were called in and they got another snow machine from Woodbury Ski and Racket in Woodbury. And at 2:30 a.m., when they were having electrical issues, they called New Milford-based Schomber Electric LLC and they came out to help. Everyone was there till 6:30 a.m. trying to make it happen.
"It was a real community effort," Locorotondo said.
In the end, though, there just wasn't enough snow to move forward with the event, so it was postponed. Locorotondo said she expects it will take place sometime after the New Year.
Yesterday, the families that did show up received panda bears that had been donated, and they enjoyed hot chocolate, coffee and munchkins that had been donated by the Dunkin' Donuts on Derby Avenue in nearby Seymour. Newtown's Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks had also offered to donate, but since the event was postponed organizers told the businesses to hold off on bringing anything.
Asked why she felt it was important to host the Snow Angel event, Locorotondo said one word: "Smiles."
"For their smiles to put a smile on our face," she added.