The city pulled a Grinch and cut the holiday tree in May. But — budget cuts be damned — a bank has saved the day.
In a Seussian turn of events, People’s United Bank is donating $20,000 to save the annual holiday tree on the New Haven Green, the city announced Friday. The bank’s contribution will cover the cost of bringing the tree to New Haven, decorating it and keeping it up throughout the winter, according to a City Hall press release.
The bank’s move represents the second time this year that a local business has stepped in to save a holiday celebration from budget cuts. Both the holiday tree and the city’s Fourth of July fireworks were cut in New Haven’s fiscal year 2010-’11 budget as the city tried to tighten its belt in order to reduce taxes. The fireworks were saved by local businesses, including Ikea, the New Haven Register reported in June.
“We are pleased to partner with People’s United Bank to continue this New Haven tradition,” City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga wrote in an e-mail.
Three aldermen interviewed also said they are glad People’s United Bank stepped in to, well, save Christmas — or, at least, the holiday spirit — in New Haven.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield said. “I always assumed someone in the community would step up to the plate.”
Ward 7 Alderwoman Frances “Bitsie” Clark said the fact that donors have come forward to support both the holiday tree and the fireworks shows that the city should look for sponsors before deciding to spend taxpayers’ money.
Some aldermen were “distraught” when the tree was put on the table as a budget cut, said Ward 23 Alderman Yusuf Shah, who chairs the aldermanic finance committee.
“[The bank’s donation] also shows that these businesses really care about the public and the people in the community,” he said, adding that, as always, he will attend the tree-lightning ceremony .
Holiday trees the city has used in past years have been as tall as 50 feet.