Organizers of the fifth annual Holiday Stroll & Tree Lighting ceremony, a weekend of festivities that marks the beginning of the holiday season in New Canaan, have been busy planning this multi-faceted event. The New Canaan Chamber of Commerce and the Holiday Stroll committee have been putting the pieces together, however, financial assistance is needed to light up the town.

While the town pays for the electricity portion of the project, the hardware and manpower exceeds $20,000, which has been funded in previous years by merchants and private donors.

"People assume that the town has some secret stash that they dip in to for events such as these," said Tucker Murphy, New Canaan Chamber of Commerce's executive director. "And often it goes unspoken, but residents should know that it doesn't work like that."

A donation outreach is being initiated this year by the chamber and the merchants of New Canaan. Canisters will be placed throughout town for donations. Checks are welcome and can be made out to New Canaan Chamber of Commerce.

"Approximately 150 hours of manpower to light 50 trees with 400 strands of lights," said Rob Hutchinson of Hutchinson Tree Care Specialists, explaining the cost his team endures on this yearly project.

"We are up on the cherry pickers [trucks] for about 50 hours, on the ground for 100 hours, plus there's day-to-day maintenance while the lights are up and the break down in the end," Hutchinson said. "Not to mention the traffic control and police work involved."

Other costs include the lights themselves. Year-to-year replacements must be determined. Dale Carbonier from Rand Insurance of New Canaan and a longtime chamber member/supporter created "Bulb Blast," a yearly event that rounds up a team of volunteers, some of whom are high school students, to test the lights at the New Canaan fire station.

Other fundraising efforts began recently at the Bank of New Canaan, which hosted a Holiday Stroll reception where chamber members, merchants and residents donated to help support of the stroll.

To make a donation, e-mail Murphy at Tucker@newcanaanchamber.com, call 203-966-2004 or visit www.newcanaanchamber.com.