Mystery Wreath-Hanger of Manchester, Conn. Dec 28, 2014 15:36:09 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Dec 28, 2014 15:36:09 GMT -5
Mystery Wreath Appears Again on Case Mountain Bridge
MANCHESTER, Conn. – A mysterious Christmas sprite has once again decorated Case Mountain falls, leaving many to wonder who is hauling out the holly and spreading holiday spirit. The tradition of hanging a large wreath on the stone bridge over the falls has gone on for years, but it's not the town's doing, officials say. It always happens overnight, when no one is around, Rudy Kissmann, of the town's board of directors, said. And no one, apparently, knows the identity of the midnight elf.
The mystery is similar to the Baltimore Poe Toaster, who for seven decades marked Edgar Allen Poe's birth each year by leaving a half bottle of cognac and three roses on his grave overnight. The practice stopped in 2010, but the Toaster's identity is still unknown.
Speculation about the Case Mountain wreath has increased with the area being recently cleared of vegetation by town public works crews, making it more visible to passersby. The town has started a massive rehab of 33.5 acres on Case Mountain that it bought this year, restoring the bucolic corner that includes the iconic waterfall and stone arch bridge to its original park-like 1903 design. Much of the area had become overgrown, with brush and saplings hiding a number of stone staircases, arches and trails.
Now that the area is more open, many are wondering who is leaving the festive symbol of the season in the dead of night. The question has even been posted on a Facebook page frequented by residents who grew up in Manchester. "Can anyone guess who places the wreath on the falls every year?" Karen Lepak asked last week. No one had an answer.
Kissmann said that for years he thought Randy Thrall, whose family owns property in the area, was the Christmas elf. "But he died, and the wreath is still going up every year," Kissmann said.
Kissmann next turned to Susan Barlow, who with her husband, Malcolm, is an active member of the Manchester Land Conservation Trust. But she said it wasn't her, Kissmann said.
Another director, Lisa O'Neill, thought John Parla of the Andrew Ansaldi Co., whose owner sold the land to the town this year, was responsible. And Director Margaret "Peg" Hackett said she always believed Malcolm Barlow was the undercover Christmas sprite. But both learned they were wrong. "It's so weird that no one knows," Hackett said with a laugh.
The mystery came to light at the December board of directors meeting, when Mayor Jay Moran and directors thanked town staff for hanging the bowed evergreen wreath on the bridge. Director Cheri Eckbreth said many people have commented on the clearing of the brush at the site, and noted the bridge "at the waterfall area was even wreathed for the holiday season by the town, and it was very much appreciated by those who have hiked up there and seen that." With all the work that's been done, "it's a nice time of year to go up and see it, especially since they've gone through the trouble of decorating it for us," Eckbreth added at the end of the meeting.
But "it wasn't us," Public Works Director Mark Carlino said a few days later, adding he always thought the former property owner hung the festive garland.
Fire Chief David Billings also wondered if the holiday elf wasn't someone with a connection to the property. "It might be a distant ancestor of the Case family – somebody in the bloodline," Billings suggested.
Whoever does it, Moran said he's thankful for the holiday spirit. "It looks awesome," he said.
Source: Kym Soper, The Journal Inquirer, December 27, 2014.