Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Local News

Starry Nights Predicted in Madison


These stars are available for purchase to brighten up your business or residence from Chester artist Christopher Owens.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Owens

These stars are available for purchase to brighten up your business or residence from Chester artist Christopher Owens. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Owens)

As the holidays approach, local businesses are coordinating efforts to add an extra layer of holiday cheer and fun to Madison. This community and business collaboration is bringing brightly lit stars to the downtown scene.

Janet Connelly, co-owner of the Audubon Shop on Route 1 in Madison and former chair of the Chamber of Commerce, is helping to coordinate this year’s efforts and said the project is a unique and fun way for everyone in town to display their holiday spirit.

“We have the trees lit up downtown, and that is always beautiful, but we wanted to add something else,” said Connelly. “People really love the look of downtown and wanted to make it even happier. Especially in light of the pandemic and what we all endured over the 18 months, we really wanted to bring light and joy. A number of our downtown merchants really suffered during this time so we just wanted to bring something special and to recognize their efforts. It’s really a way to try and lift us up, and to lift the community up.”

According to Connelly, about a dozen downtown stores and restaurants have purchased the stars for their shops, and Connelly said the hope is that not only other businesses, but residents will display these beacons of pride and hope as well.

“It’s really a grassroots kind of effort. Every year we try and do a theme with the local downtown merchants. We always try to have a cohesive theme to every year. We’ve been talking about doing some sort of organized theme, and when I went to Chester last year and saw these stars on their stores, it was just, ‘Oh, my God, these are so beautiful.’ It really added a lot to downtown,” Connelly said. “So our friend Alyssa Ingram at the Frame Shop on Wall Street put us in touch with Chris [Owens], the artist, and he is such a joy to work with.”

According to Connelly, having a cohesive holiday decor item for our shoppers to admire and enjoy will add to the ambiance of Madison this season. Residents are also encouraged to display these stars as well, said Connelly.

“Any homeowners and any businesses here in town should consider displaying them,” said Connelly. “They truly are beautiful and bring such joy when they’re lit up at night.”

Chester artist Christopher Owens designed the stars and his efforts to bring a little beauty to his hometown has spread not only to Madison, but to towns across the country from Connecticut to California and even Alaska. Owens said the initial effort to display these stars was a fundraiser for a Chester organization that grew as the displays became popular.

According to Owens, seeing the effort morph and seeing his creations lit up and being enjoyed is deeply personal.

“For me it’s about the beauty of the stars. Right now especially, in this world we live in, a divided world, to come up with this simple thing: No matter where you live in this world, you look up and see the stars, we all share the stars regardless of affiliation or denomination, we share the stars above us,” said Owens. “The stars join us and bind us without prejudice or affiliation. There’s no attachment to any religion—it’s just the stars, which is what we need right now.”

Owens said that his efforts are largely a labor of love and he is lucky if it is a break-even proposition.

“It brings beauty and wonder to the world,” said Owens.

The stars are made of sturdy wood and sizes range from 2 feet across to 3 ½ and up to 7 feet. Costs are $30, $50, and $100, respectively. They are wrapped in warm white lights and come ready to be hung or stick-mounted on a lawn, at the buyer’s choice.

Asked why she and the other merchants feel so strongly about what on the surface just seems like a holiday decoration, Connelly said these stars are much more than just a business promotion.

“We have a beautiful downtown, where the merchants really work together, and we want to bring joy into the community,” Connelly said.

To order a star for a business or residence, contact artist Christopher Owens at 860-287-5796 or christopher@chestercottagect.com.

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