Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Peace Candle Needs Replacement Earlier Than Expected

By Christina Georgiou

Donations being sought to cover $25,000 price tag.

The Easton Peace Candle, as erected in 2011.
 Easton needs a new Peace Candle earlier than expected, and $25,000 to cover the cost of that endeavor needs to be raised quickly, Mayor Sal Panto announced at a press conference held at city hall Tuesday afternoon.

“We need a new candle,” Panto told gathered members of the press. He added that while the price sounds high, it is $5,000 less than the current candle, constructed in 1990, cost.

The current Peace Candle was expected to last until 2014, but wear and tear, along with meeting current safety standards, mean that won't happen. While the steel framework is still sound, the seasonal structure's angle irons, marine plywood skin, wiring and flame need to be replaced this year, the mayor said.

“It lasts about 20 years, and that's about what this candle has lasted,” he said, adding that if the work is not done, the city won't be able to erect the iconic holiday season decoration around the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Centre Square.

The candle has been an annual holiday fixture in the city since 1951, with the exception of a few years in the 1960s, after the original version of the decoration wore out. For a time, it was deemed too cost-prohibitive to replace it.

“In 1961, we had no candle...So they just hung streamers—it was the ugliest thing I've ever seen,” Panto said. “You may have been able to go in the '60s without a Peace Candle, but we can't go without a Peace Candle today. You would be hung from the bugler, and it wouldn't be very nice.”

The mayor said he expects the city will cover the cost of the new candle while donations are sought by the Easton Holiday Committee. It is planned that the committee will then pay the city back. The matter is to be put before city council in an upcoming meeting, he said.

“We really don't have that many people on the committee,” said Sandra O'Brien-Werner, who heads the committee and is also employed as the city's grant writer. She added that anyone who would like to join the Easton Holiday Committee is welcome to attend the group's meetings, held on the second Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. on the sixth floor of city hall.

To raise the necessary funds, the committee plans to sell “shares” of the new Peace Candle at $20 apiece and solicit tax-deductible donations, along with holding other fund raising events.

“It's really a donation,” Panto said of the plan to sell “stock” in the Peace Candle. “You don't get anything back, but you do get a nice certificate.”

The stock drive will begin the week after Labor Day, leaving only about eight weeks for the necessary funds to be raised by the holiday committee's goal date of November 1.

With the new candle's construction, some other changes are planned too.

The new Peace Candle will have off-white wax drippings, instead of the light blue ones seen for the last few decades.

“White candles have off-white wax, and that's what it will be,” Panto said.

Red lights, instead of white ones, will grace the evergreens at the candle's base, O'Brien-Werner said, adding that the original candle had red lights.

A postcard of the Peace
Candle as it appeared in the
late 1970s.
The city will take over footing the bill for the labor, maintenance and erection of the candle, at an estimated annual cost of $7,000 to $8,000, Panto said.

“It's a lot easier for the city to do it as part of the budget,” the mayor said.

In the past few years, the local iron workers' union had done the job on a volunteer basis. While city workers will also be responsible for constructing the new candle, the union will assist with the job too, Panto said.

The lighting ceremony festivities will be organized by the Easton Main Street Initiative from this year forward, Panto said. The Easton Holiday Committee will continue to choose the recipient of the Gretchen Wrenshaw Award for service and cover the cost of the Peace Candle ornaments.

The Peace Candle will have a dedicated website,, which is planned to go live by week's end, O'Brien-Werner said, adding that the site will be able to take donations and sell stock certificates via Paypal.

Those wishing to donate via check, payable to “Easton Holiday Committee,” are still welcome to do so, she added.

Other planned fund raisers aimed at raising funds for the new Peace Candle are:

  • A costumed dance, set for Thursday, Sept. 27 from 7 to 10 p.m., featuring Inch and the Echo, to be held at the Third Street Alliance.

  • “Blaze the Trail,” set for Saturday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “A very natural, gentle walk” that will take place on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. Tickets will be $10 apiece or three for $25, and will include a raffle drawing for an iPad.

The committee's traditional fund raising efforts, aimed at covering the costs of the Gretchen Wrenshaw Award and the Peace Candle's ornaments, will also continue this year, O'Brien-Werner said. They are:

  • An eBay auction for “Grand Illuminator”--that is, the right to pull the switch at the Peace Candle lighting ceremony on Black Friday evening, Nov. 23.

  • “Light a Night”--$30 pays for the electricity to light the candle for an evening, which can be dedicated to a loved one, living or deceased.

Panto said the $25,000 goal needs to be reached by Nov. 1.

“If the residents want the candle, they're going to have to contribute,” the mayor said.

No comments:

Post a Comment