Town decorations made more inclusive

Sarah Reiter, a sixth grader at Middlebrook School, asked the Board of Selectmen Dec. 4 to place a Jewish menorah on the lawn in front of town hall for the holiday season.

First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice explained the town cannot host religious symbols for several reasons.

In a written response to Sarah before the meeting, Vanderslice said a menorah will be lit on the town green and “as a public building, if we allow one religious symbol to be displayed, we are then required to display any other religious symbols requested.”

Vanderslice said she is working toward making the town’s decorations more inclusive, in large part by getting away from traditional red and green Christmas colors to “Wilton blue and white.” Among the recent changes are:

  • Replacing the red and green “Joy” banners on Wilton Center lampposts last year with blue and white snowflake banners. As Wilton High School colors, blue and white was chosen to foster community spirit.

  • Replacing the traditional red and green decorations on the front steps and front door of town hall with blue and white decorations.

  • Adding a campfire and marshmallow roast to the activities of the Wilton Chamber’s annual Holiday Stroll. The first selectman also asked the Chamber to rename its event the Winter and Holiday Stroll and to replace the red and green flyers with blue and white.

  • Establishing last year’s Hanukah Hut at the gazebo in Wilton Center.

  • The multicolored Christmas tree-style lights on the large trees in front of town hall have been replaced with white winter lights like those seen at ski resorts out West.

In a post on social media, Vanderslice further explained the area in Wilton Center that is the site of the Christmas tree, creche, and menorah is private property. There are no restrictions on the display of religious symbols on private property.

Vanderslice said she has consulted with town counsel Ira Bloom on the subject of religious displays on town property and will bring that matter up at the next Board of Selectmen meeting on Dec. 18.