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Snake and Free Food Star at Norwalk Tree Festival

Monty the python got a lot of attention Saturday as he taught an unusual nature lesson in Norwalk's Cranbury Park: Don't buy a pet you can't take care of.

That was just one of the educational opportunities offered at the annual Norwalk-Wilton Tree Festival, where exhibitors such as Ambler Farm and Young's Nursery lined the field, and arborists showed off their heavy equipment, entertaining the kids by sawing trees into lumber. The Norwalk Exchange Club even gave away free hots dogs and hamburgers.

Jackie Kelly enjoyed the "small town" feel of the event. "Free food, who does that?" asked her husband, R.J. Kelly.

Sarah Helms, 11, took her game-playing very seriously as she tried to maneuver a cup up a slanted board with holes in it using pulleys. Her reward was a pine tree seedling, which she will take care of just as seriously, if last year's prize is any judge. The sugar maple she won is now 2-feet tall, according to her father. "She cares for it every day," he said.

Henryk Teraszkiewicz, director of the Woodcock Nature Center, said he had found Monty 10 years ago in the road. The African ball python was almost dead, he said. Someone had gotten it for a pet and then let it go, and it was malnourished and injured.

Jonathan Chau, 7, liked touching Monty, whose skin felt surprisingly warm. "He enjoys coming out to the tree festival," his father said. "This is his third year."

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