Lights of Hope shine for local charities

By Dan Ivers, Record-Journal staff | Posted: Saturday, November 12, 2011 9:28 pm

CHESHIRE - One mile of Route 10 was alight with thousands of luminaries again Saturday night for the town's annual Lights of Hope event.

The tradition attracted hundreds to Cheshire High School during the afternoon for a brief rally before the luminaries were placed along a one-mile stretch - known as the "Mile of Hope" - from the school to the town green.

The luminaries are sold all year long in anticipation of the lighting, which is accompanied by the ringing of church bells around town at 7 p.m. Proceeds are then given to local charities.

More than $40,000 in proceeds from this year's sales were split among the town's Youth and Social Services Department, the Cheshire Community Food Pantry, and the Petit Family Foundation. A $2,500 scholarship was also awarded to Cheshire High School Class of 2011 graduate Andrew Horowitz.

At the rally, organizers recalled the Oct. 29 snowstorm that plunged the community and much of the state into darkness for nearly a week as utility companies scrambled to restore electricity. Much of the money given to the town's Social Services department will help families in need of fuel and heating assistance.

"We faced it for a week. Think of those less fortunate who live it each day of their lives," said Town Council Chairman Tim Slocum.

Don Walsh - who founded Lights of Hope with his wife, Jennifer, seven years ago - noted the large number of children at the rally, and encouraged them to carry on the spirit of community wherever they go.

"This event has morphed into an event for the youth," he said. "To teach kids the importance of serving the community."

Dr. William Petit and various family members also attended the event, and thanked organizers for their commitment to the community.

"We're just so proud to be a part of this," said Petit's sister, Johanna Petit-Chapman.

After the rally, Slocum said the event helped bring the town together, and praised organizers for the intense amount of work that goes into each year's celebration.

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