WESTFIELD, NJ — Concern that lighted snowflakes popping up on posts in the downtown might be replacing the traditional Christmas wreaths that have been installed in past years prompted a heated discussion at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.
In recent weeks, the town has installed the lighted snowflakes on streetlamps in an effort that officials said is to make the downtown more welcoming for holiday shoppers. Two residents speaking at the meeting, however, expressed concern that the lights could be replacing the traditional wreaths, something they learned would not be the case.
“I was really very relieved to hear that the wreaths are going to go up in concert with the snowflakes at this point, and that the snowflakes will continue to stay up on the lampposts through January and February as a way to attract local business,” said Michael Gagliardi, a resident of Irving Avenue.
Mayor Shelley Brindle said the Westfield 300 Committee, which is organizing the celebrations for the 300th anniversary of the town, decided on the new lighting in honor of the 300-year celebration.
“One of the recommendations that a lot of place-makers around the country state is that it’s best if you can keep lighting in the town beyond the holidays to make it feel vibrant,” Brindle added.
She said the town had also received numerous complaints about the shabby state of the town’s wreaths last year, and the municipality would be rehabilitating some wreaths, while retiring others.
“It was never intended to fully replace the wreaths,” Brindle said of the snowflake lighting. “Those that were able to be refurbished are being rehung. I don’t know how many that will be, but that was always the intention.”
She told TAPinto Westfield the town will also continue its annual tradition of erecting a nativity scene and a large menorah, both of which will be at the North Avenue side of the Westfield Train Station.
“The menorah and crèche always go up at the same time, which [is] scheduled for next weekend,” Brindle said.
At the meeting, Councilman Dawn Mackey spoke in support of the snowflakes.
“These things take a lot of planning, a lot of money and a lot of time,” Mackey said. “So I think it’s going to be a beautiful enhancement.”
Brindle said the rationale for the new lights was not religious in nature.
Councilman Mark LoGrippo, however, sought further details on an email in which Councilman David Contract, according to LoGrippo, had indicated such.
Brindle cut off LoGrippo’s line of questioning and Contract did not answer the question at Tuesday’s meeting.
“What a privilege, honestly, that we’re having an argument over wreaths and snowflakes,” Brindle said at the same meeting during which she reported the death of the town’s longtime planning board chairman, along with 18 new coronavirus cases. “I have to say, really, give me a break, people are dying around here. People are in the hospital.”
The other resident to weigh in on the discussion of decorations, Terence Quinn, of Woodland Avenue, asked that any wreath in disrepair be replaced with a new wreath and not snowflake lights.
“When it comes down to it, we’ve all been through so much, and the Westfield comeback is a lot stronger than any snowflake,” Quinn said.
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