Seen and heard in Norwalk: Santa Setti

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Rick Setti shakes hands with 6-year-old Lucas Marrocei of Florida after answering questions about Setti’s Christmas Village last week. Lucas asked how much money it took to create the village. “Mucho grande,” Setti said. “Like big. A lot of money.” Watching is Joan Setti.

NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some items we saw or heard recently in Norwalk:

Setti such and such

The lights are twinkling again in Cranbury as Joan and Rick Setti celebrate the 25th year of Settis Christmas Village, with 118,000 strands of Christmas lights hanging from the trees, painted plywood characters filling the yard and a Santa on the roof, complete with nine life-size reindeer and a sled.

“The weirdest thing happened to me about maybe 10 or 12 years ago,” Rick Setti said last week. “I climbed up on the roof and I sat in that sled. For a moment there I thought I was going to take off. I really thought I was going to go airborne.”

The magic of Setti’s Christmas Village is coming to a close, though. Now both 70, the Settis say next year will be their last. They’ll be winding down by not creating any new characters and beginning to take it easy after the holiday.

A neighbor is taking up a collection to try to make this year extra special and fund the purchase of a stuffed animal for every child who comes to visit the Settis on Christmas Eve, when Santa and Mrs. Claus make an appearance. Dawn Monteiro’s page on Rocket Hub, a crowd-funding website, has raised about $700 so far.

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A memorial for Newtown victims at Setti’s Christmas Village.

Monteiro also is responsible in part for a new display in the Settis’ yard, featuring 20 small white angels and six larger angels in a subtle but unmistakable homage to the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

“People stand here and cry,” Joan Setti said.

Donations wanted to help veterans

The Norwalk-Village Green Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is collecting items for Homes for the Brave, a Bridgeport transitional living facility for homeless veterans, through the week. For more information, contact Autier Craft, [email protected] or call 203-722-2053.

A new experience

Norwalk’s new city clerk is at work, getting used to the routine, learning Freedom of Information rules and updating Norwalk’s website.

Donna King brings much political experience to the job, including 35 years on the Democratic Town Committee and as the chairwoman of the Maritime Authority. But at Monday night’s Board of Estimate and Taxation meeting, she said the new job carries with a challenge she hasn’t faced before.

“I have to resist voting,” she said.

Columbus on Rachael Ray

Seen on national television: Students from Columbus Magnet school.

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Columbus Magnet School Principal Emily Lopez appears on the Rachael Ray Show.

That’s because the school was awarded a $30,000 check from Uncle Ben’s Rice after six Columbus students submitted qualifying entries to the Ben’s Beginners-Cooking with Kids Contest on the Rachael Ray Show. A film crew arrived at the school on Oct. 18 and the segment was shown the following week.

This was all highlighted at this week’s Board of Education meeting, where the video was shown on the new big screen televisions in the Common Council chamber, thanks to the efforts of board member Heidi Keyes.

The money will go to upgrade the school’s cafeteria. Students, staff and parents are in the process of submitting ideas about how it should be spent.

Transitional blues

Not seen on the city’s website: a photo of Mayor Harry Rilling. Stamford already has a photo of its new mayor, David Martin, on the homepage, along with a slider of images that link to important topics.

Norwalk? No picture of Rilling in the hallway leading to the mayor’s office, either. Also missing is the one of former Mayor Richard Moccia.

NEON down, not out

State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-Norwalk 140) said Tuesday that the Rev. Tommie Jackson “jumped into a vat of fire” when he volunteered to help NEON, days after employee paychecks bounced on Nov. 5. NEON was “in shambles” at the time, state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) said.

What state is NEON in now? Jackson, pastor of Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church in Stamford, used the boxing terms TKO, meaning technical knockout, or KO, meaning the knockout suffered from a crushing blow, to describe the situation.

“It’s breathing, we are not on our backs anymore but we are on our knees,” Jackson said. “So we have moved from landing on our back to our knees. A month ago people would have said it’s a TKO, or maybe just a KO. Today we can say we are still in the fight. We are strengthening the organization – a month ago the organization had less than $10,000 in its accounts. People were not getting paid.”

He began to break up, but fought back the teariness.

“It’s kind of emotional for me,” he said. “Now people are getting paid for three weeks and we have almost $300,000 in the operating account. So I am grateful, it is a lot of work but it is necessary work for the community and I am willing to do it.”


Morris was one of the politicians calling for the removal of former NEON CEO and President Joe Mann during a February 2012 press conference with then-Mayor Richard Moccia.

“Our concern about the solvency of NEON going forward — we are concerned that NEON is able to survive,” Morris said. “We want it to, we need it to, but these are the processes that will automatically go forward.

He continued, “The mayor has already said, ‘I’m going to withhold money.’ I will say there isn’t any way the state of Connecticut will continue to give money to NEON if it is not handling things properly. It will dry up and go away.”

Correction, 1:30 p.m., number of angels


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