Hundreds of local residents took to the streets of Old Greenwich Saturday for the annual First Light Festival that featured a community 'thank you' to local first-responders whose efforts saved the village from flooding and fire during Hurricane Sandy.
Local bands, singers, a DJ and even a pair of bagpipers entertained scores of residents who walked along Sound Beach Avenue and local sidestreets for the kickoff of the holiday season. It was one of 4 holiday celebrations Saturday evening—Byram held its annual tree lighting at the Byram Shubert Library, the Cos Cob Association hosted a celebration at the Cos Cob firehouse with entertainment and a tree lighting, and the annual Holiday Stroll and its ice sculpture display along Greenwich Avenue was held.
In Old Greenwich, the evening started with the lighting of luminaries along the footpaths of Binney Park as organized by Family Centers and the Boy Scouts.
The normally crowded four-lane stretch of Sound Beach, from railroad overpass to the Old Greenwich School, and the sidestreets in between, bustled with youngsters, teens and adults alike who dropped into local businesses that provided free samples of food and drink. A horse-drawn carriage provided old-fashioned rides through the village.
The whole evening was planned by the Old Greenwich Merchants Association which also featured a community 'thank you' to the town's first responders who saved the village from further devasation during Hurricane Sandy.
Dana Evans, a member of the organizing committee, said, "They worked days and nights before, during and after the hurricane. We wanted to say 'thank you' and thought, First Light would already have the crowd here."
The ceremony began with an introduction by Greenwich Police Capt. Mark Kordick whose distinctive voice was recognized by residents. They cheered Kordick who recorded the voicemail updates left on residents' phones during the 11-day state of emergency during and following the storm.
First Selectman Peter Tesei read a proclamation declaring Dec. 1 as Greenwich First Responder Day, thanking the volunteers and professionals for their work "here at Ground Zero for Hurricane Sandy." It was through their efforts, there weren't any injuries or loss of life, Tesei said.
The ceremony ended with a champagne toast to the several dozen emergency services personnel gathered in front of the Sound Beach firehouse. A table was set up for the giant banner that was unfurled, so that residents could write a personalized message to their local heroes.