Our Next Great Holiday Tradition

Christmas is 364 days away.  But — perhaps inspired by today’s “blizzard” — Al DiGuido and Steve Rubin are already looking ahead.

Al noticed that Westport doesn’t have an “official” Christmas tree — nor any “official” ceremony marking the beginning of the holiday season.

The Saugatuck River Bridge, all lit up this holiday season.

But, in a letter to the Westport News, Al — founder and driving force behind Al’s Angels — proposed that his organization work with the town to make the Saugatuck Bridge lighting the “official” holiday season lighting for Westport.

Al said:

It would be incredible if we could close the bridge down for several hours on one magical night.  Local restaurants could provide hot chocolate, donuts and other holiday treats — actually on the bridge, when we throw the switch.  Area vocal groups could provide holiday music.

I know Santa and Frosty would definitely make an appearance too.

While other towns may have “trees,” no one has a bridge like ours.  As Westporters, we love the differences in our town.

Let’s celebrate them!

He urged interested Westporters to contact him: adiguido@yahoo.com.

RTM member Steve Rubin seconds the motion.  He says:

What a grand idea!  What a better honor for the Cribari family!  What a true fun tradition for Westport!

The official name of the span is the William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge.  Born in1918, he directed countless numbers of cars as a police traffic official.  Few people loved Westport and its history more than “Crowbar” did.

To continue to light the bridge from Thanksgiving to New Year’s would be an exciting Westport happening.  It would encompass the entire holiday season for all.

Illuminating the bridge and nearby donated trees has become a Westport institution.  Al DiGuido and friends started this tradition about a decade ago with other proud Westport residents, including myself.

Taxpayers’ funds have never been used.  I think anybody driving by or across this bridge when it glows with lights would be happy to kick in a few dollars if requested to continue this tradition.

There you have it:  The next great new town tradition.

And — this being Westport — the time to start working on it is yesterday.

11 responses to “Our Next Great Holiday Tradition

  1. I always thought that the DiGuido Family & Friends sponsored lighting was the official holiday lighting for The Town of Westport. It’s already so great does it really need to be made ‘official’ (usually the more official something is the more watered down and politicized it becomes, i.e., before you know it, it will be called The Heritage Holiday Lighting Ceremony, all the lights will be clear instead of multi-coloured…).

  2. GREAT IDEA !!!

  3. westportersince1970

    The Saugatuck River Bridge is older by one year than the Brooklyn Bridge. It is a great gateway to Westport, and in every season it reveals the beauty of the river and its shores to everyone who crosses it. The magnificent bluff of oak trees to the left as you drive from the RR station across the bridge is uniquely spectacular in leaf coloring season.

    The Al’s Angels’ Christmas lights are a nice new tradition. I am glad they changed to lower energy consuming LED lights.

  4. Kim Crowther Manning

    It isn’t Christmas until my kids and I drive over this bridge. We do it over and over and over again, turning around several times, making sure we get our fill from each direction. We go out of our way, often on very circuitous routes on our way home from anywhere just so we can drive over the bridge. It has been a family tradition for us for as long as the bridge has been lit. It would be fun to make it a town wide event, and a nice tribute to “Crowbar” whose image is forever in my mind directing traffic in his unique and humorous way at the Main Street/Post Road intersection.

  5. Wendy Crowther

    I love the idea of an “official lighting.” Efforts to bring the community to one place to celebrate something that we can all relate to is brilliant, literally and figuratively. Additionally, the Gault project, just around the corner, will be up and running by next December. Therfore, there will be extra action in the Saugatuck area (some think that’s good, others don’t). Whatever your opinion is on that, the Gaults, and the Saugatuck retailers and restaurants would probably be willing to provide hot chocolate, etc., to help bring business to the area.

    I agree with Anonymous that in “officializing” this event, it could become politicized, and it could ruin the heartfelt, goodwill nature of Al’s gift to Westport. But, if Al is careful to avoid that, Al’s Angels could turn the exposure and support into continuing the good deeds the Angels provide to others. I see no downside to that.

    The historic nature of the bridge is also worth highlighting – it is among Westport’s most important historic landmarks. “Crowbar” is also a Westport legend – I also remember his iconic presence at the bridge’s intersection.

    If the bridge gets closed for a one-hour lighting ceremony, consider a Saturday or Sunday evening with lots of advanced publicity. Otherwise, the rail commuters headed home on a weeknight may ruin the holiday vibe when they’re re-directed all the way to the Post Road to head east. Others will miss a train if they’ve cut their timing close and are headed toward the station. Everything is always more complicated than you think in this day and age, even the most loving of gestures.

  6. We have enjoyed the lights since my children were little. They are now 20 and 22 and it just doesn’t get old. Driving over the bridge and seeing the lights on the bridge and the trees are magical. My daughter, our dog and I walked down in the rain to see the lighting ceremony this year. It brought back all those warm childhood feelings of Christmas. Having this as an official ceremony would be a great idea. However, I do agree that I do not want to see it become a “commercialized” event, losing the true meaning.

  7. As a 45-year resident of Westport, I belive that it’s about time that the “lighting” became an “official” event.

  8. I had dinner at the Boathouse the other night and the view of the bridge was quite spectacular. But an official lighting of the bridge? In the same category as lighting of the Rockerfeller Center or White House huge trees, it seems a little tacko.

  9. Linda Gramatky Smith

    Wonderful idea! After the publicity this year, I had planned to volunteer with Al’s Angels next Christmas, so making the lighting of the Saugatuck Bridge official sounds great to me.

  10. It’s been great watching all of these super comments being made in support of the lighting of our beautiful bridge. For those that worry that an “official” status would “politicize” and take away from the true meaning…Please know that as long as Als Angels is involved here..that will NEVER happen.
    We see the lighting as a way to show the people in Westport that we haven’t forgotten the true meaning of the lights and the holiday season. We have no and desire no political agenda in the work that we do. Our sole mission is to raise the awareness for the work we can ALL be doing to be a light to others in our community and serve the needs of those in desperate situations.
    I welcome all of the support here. If you would like to take an active role in making this dream a reality…drop me a line at adiguido@yahoo.com. Enjoy the lights thru New Years ! Happy New Year !!!!

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