An estimated 1,000 needy Hartford area children and 400 volunteers gather Tuesday, Christmas Day, for the 28th annual “We Are The Children” holiday gathering in Hartford this year.
It will include an over-sized white Christmas tree in memory of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, and increased security to assure the safety of the children at the downtown event.
“My first thought was to cancel it after such a horrific thing happened,” said Gary Craig about Friday’s shootings that resulted in the death of 20 children and six adults. “But then I quickly thought it was more important than ever to hold it. Kids here are depending on it,” said Craig, the WTIC radio personality who founded the party in 1985 and continues to organize it each year. Craig said he has hired extra security for the party because of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and has stopped advertising where and when the party will be held. “I just don’t want to bring attention to it after Sandy Hook.”
The memorial tree is being decorated by volunteers who are making dozens of handcrafted ornaments with the victims’ names on them,” Craig said . “We wanted white so it would stand out from all the others,” said Craig about the 12-foot tree that will be part of the holiday diorama being set up for the event. “White is purity and somehow it just seemed right.”
Believed to be the largest Christmas Day children’s gathering of its kind, the “We The Children” party is underwritten by dozens of corporations, businesses and supporters who donate money, food, decorations, toys and entertainment to the party. There is a final toy drive today, Thursday, at The Toy Chest in West Hartford.
If necessary one last emergency toy drive over the weekend at a time and place to be announced.