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Called to decorate

Published December 13. 2013 4:00AM   Updated December 13. 2013 12:00PM

Ho, Ho - hey - did you see what was on Facebook?

As in all things, social media is changing the way people interact on the holidays. Those Christmas card-enclosed letters filled with news about what the family has been up to dwindle as more of us use social media to provide constant updates. For that matter, the cards themselves dwindle.

Efforts to help struggling families get through the holiday season quickly organize in cyberspace. Recipes are exchanged and dismissed with photos of the culinary successes or failures often provided.

Someone may not be home for Christmas, but they can send their greetings face-to-face on Skype.

And in New London, bitter political disputes can be set aside as a community comes together to help decorate a city Christmas tree, one which many felt lacking, those views amplified and quickly spread on Facebook.

It is not so much the tree, donated by Pat and Michael Diodato of the Uncasville section of Montville, but the lack of decorations that many are questioning - a few strands of lights.

The issue surfaced at no less an important forum than the first meeting of the new City Council. Councilors had heard, or read on Facebook, the concerns.

"Would it have killed us to put some ribbons on that tree?" asked newly seated Councilor Erica Richardson.

Things amped up when Day arts reporter and columnist Rick Koster devoted his Dec. 9 column to the topic. "I've seen bug zappers with more holiday sizzle than our tree," opined Mr. Koster.

What really seemed to get things rolling was a video produced by Mr. Koster and Day Director of Multimedia Peter Huoppi. What goes viral better on the Internet than a quirky video? Viewers can watch Mr. Koster place a single, if overly hyped, red ornament on the otherwise ornament-barren tree.

A recent visit to the tree, located on the Parade across from Union Station, determined the red ornament remained, now joined by a couple of others.

The issue has the attention of the mayor.

"After hearing the concerns from city residents and seeing their efforts to organize this event, I wanted to put the full backing of the city behind the endeavor," announced Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio.

So tomorrow, New London will hold its first "Trim the Tree" event from noon to 2 p.m. Residents can donate "outdoor weather-friendly ornaments," while the City Center District will provide more lights. The New London Fire Department will accept donations for Toys for Tots.

We expect plenty of likes.

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