The first night of Chanukah was celebrated in West Hartford Center on Sunday, with an estimated 2,000 people attending an outdoor event on LaSalle Road.
By Stacey Dresner. Photos by Stacey Dresner and Tom Hickey
Thousands celebrated the first night of Chanukah at “Chanukah Fire on ICE,” held for the first time on LaSalle Road in West Hartford on Sunday, Dec. 18. Presented by Chabad of Greater Hartford, the theme of the family-friendly event was the spreading of light and goodness.
Chanukah, or the Festival of Lights, recalls the victory of the Jews, led by Judah Maccabee, against the Greeks in reclaiming the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. When the Maccabees went to light the Temple’s menorah, there was only one jar of oil – enough to burn for only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight. In commemoration, Jews celebrate Chanukah for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabrum known as a menorah.
At Chanukah Fire on ICE, the menorah was literally fire on ice – a super-sized ice sculpture menorah, lit by David Roth of West Hartford.
Local celebrities were in attendance – WTNH anchorman Dennis House led a rousing Jewish trivia game and West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor gave a shout-out to everyone celebrating Chanukah.
Young and old alike danced with joy during a rocking concert by the Chasidic pop band “8TH DAY.”
Families and children enjoyed arts & crafts, colorful spinning dreidels, glow-in-the-dark face painting, and rides around LaSalle Road on a trackless train. Everyone enjoyed hot cocoa and doughnuts, and Chabad distributed menorahs, candles, and Chanukah-at-home kits to those celebrating at home.
The evening ended with the GELT DROP, as West Hartford firefighters sprinkled Chanukah gifts and chocolate coins from the top of the extended ladder of the fire truck.
Despite the celebratory atmosphere, it was hard to ignore the heavy security in place. The roadways were blocked off by the West Hartford Department of Public Works and the town’s police and fire departments, and even the emergency response team, K-9 units, and undercover officers ensured the safety of attendees.
Community partners and sponsors of Chanukah Fire on ICE included we-ha.com, West Hartford Magazine, The Jewish Ledger, The Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, Michael and Pat Kazakoff and family, and Aaron and Goldie Black.
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