Darien dad organizes town's first public menorah lighting ceremony for Hanukkah
A public menorah lighting ceremony to celebrate Hanukkah is being held for the first time in Darien after a slew of antisemitic incidents at nearby schools.
Dan Guller and his husband moved to Darien 12 years ago, a town Guller says they know as open and inclusive.
"We're a same-sex, bi-faith couple raising a child in Darien, Connecticut," says Guller.
The couple now has a 3-year-old son who'll enter the public school system in two years.
"We've sat and we've thought, 'What do we want the schools to look like for him?'" he says.
The question comes after incidents of antisemitism at local schools in the past year, including swastikas drawn on and carved into property.
Guller is a member of Temple Shalom in Norwalk and thinks it's up to parents to make the town what they want it to be.
"So, we thought let's make it better," said Guller.
He's now organized a communitywide Hanukkah celebration in Grove Street Plaza. For the first time in the town's history, a 6-foot-tall menorah will be displayed there for the holiday's eight nights. Every night, a different group of Jewish families will light the menorah.
The public is invited each night. A bigger event will be held Dec. 1 for the festival of lights.
"I feel like instead of preaching to people and bringing in experts to talk to the town, we just need a demonstration of celebration and love and light, which is what Hanukkah is," says Guller.
Guller says the Dec. 1 event will feature food, stories for kids and giveaways. He's also invited all the churches in town along with local and state officials.
"It's an apolitical event, it is a nonpartisan event, but it feels like it's important to have all of our town leaders there to gather together and say in one voice this is what our town is," said Guller.
The community menorah lighting is hosted in partnership with Baywater Properties and Temple Shalom in Norwalk, and it starts at 6 p.m. You're encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to the Open Door Shelter.