NORWALK, Conn. — For the 23rd year in a row, Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk celebrated the “festival of lights” by lighting its own giant menorah for Hanukkah.
“We’re celebrating the freedom of religion, freedom to believe, freedom to express our trust in God … and to be able to celebrate and to bring more light into the world,” Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht, who lit the menorah, told the Daily Voice. “And light is brought into the world through faith.”
Before lighting the 18-foot menorah, Hecht walked through the throngs of parents and children, offering gelt — chocolate coins — and taking color requests for dreidels.
Hecht lit a small menorah on a table, then Stew Leonard Jr. flicked the switch on the 18-foot menorah on the side of the building.
The event also included live music, holiday dance and free Kosher refreshments.
Local dignitaries from Norwalk and Westport — including Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling — were on hand to partake in what Stew’s says is “Fairfield County’s largest menorah lighting celebration.”
Stew Leonard Jr. watched the festivities from the crowd, taking in the mild temperatures.
“It’s great weather because we’ve had all sorts of weather,” Leonard said, recalling the many years the family has lit the menorah at their store.
Shortly before the menorah was lit, Rilling wished those in a crowd a happy Hanukkah and emphasized the positive vibe of the holiday.
“I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very, very Happy Hanukkah and the peace, hope and love that comes with these celebrations,” Rilling said.
Stew Leonard’s, a chain of supermarkets in Connecticut and New York, is known for its mechanical singing animals, which attract customers from near and far. Last week, the store held a Christmas tree lighting celebration. The tree, a 35-foot Balsam, was donated by the Longmuir family of Norwalk. It also celebrated a Christmas tree lighting at its Danbury store.
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