New Milford holiday light events aim to spread 'more Christmas cheer'

Two events that will showcase holiday lights and display are being offered this year. Last year, a

Two events that will showcase holiday lights and display are being offered this year. Last year, a "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" display at 117 Sunny Valley Road in New Milford drew lots of attention.

Deborah Rose / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW MILFORD — Two holiday-themed events are underway in town, both geared toward lifting people’s spirits during the pandemic.

New Milford Parks & Recreation is sponsoring a “Light Up New Milford” decorating event, and resident Kate Thurlow is coordinating a “New Milford Christmas Light Cruise & Contest 2020” via social media.

“We want to bring a little light to this time of year with it being really difficult for families,” Laura Murphy, director of programs and events for Parks & Rec, said of why the department decided to offer this the “Light Up New Milford” event. “It’s a fun way to get everyone involved. To not only get the town together, but do something with your family that’s safe.”

The event will be run similar to the department’s townwide Easter egg and ghost hunts earlier this year.

Families and businesses will be invited to decorate their homes for the holidays, register with Parks & Rec on its website and then drive around to see all participating displays.

All participants will be added to a map that will be available for residents to access.

“We want to make sure that we’re doing this all together,” Murphy said. “People decorate their own house so they can come home and see it, but now it really puts a smile on everyone’s face making it special.”

The last day to register for the light display is Dec. 18 at noon. The map will be available that day at 5 p.m. through Dec. 31.

The map will be emailed out and the link will also be posted through Parks & Rec.

Participants will be asked to upload a photograph when registering so the picture can be shared on social media.

The department will also offer a virtual holiday trivia event Dec. 17, with details on the Parks & Rec website.

Meanwhile, Thurlow is spearheading the Christmas cruise and contest, the second event she has coordinated on social media this year.

In October, she sought the public’s input on Halloween displays and posted the information online.

“I wanted to try to do something be an alternative for people because of COVID,” Thurlow said. “To give people another opportunity to put the word out in case people wanted to participate.”

When members of the public asked her if she planned to do the same for Christmas, she began coordinating the holiday event on her “New Milford, CT Holiday Fun — Halloween and Xmas 2020” Facebook group.

About 30 residents have signed up to participate so far.

Like the Parks & Rec event, residents are invited to decorate their homes for the holiday season and let Thurlow know the address, either by personal message or through a post on the group page.

She will compile a list of all addresses, upload them onto an Excel sheet and plug the data into Google maps, so a map can be accessible for residents to view. A printable list of all displays will be available online Dec. 9.

The event differs from Parks & Rec’s in that the public can vote for their favorite display and prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place.

Several local businesses and community members have already contributed items as prizes. Donors thus far include Goatboy Soaps, Swank on Bank, New Milford Pizza Station, Mommy’s Board Silly and Chick Filet.

Thurlow noted participants can choose not to be included in the judging.

Those interested in participating should enter by Dec. 7. Voting will run from Dec. 9-21, and the winners will be announced Dec. 23.

“I hope this will stimulate people to have a little more Christmas cheer, because it’s been a lousy year,” Thurlow said. “One of (my family’s) favorite thing to do this time of year, so why not check out everybody’s lights?”