In a trying year, Easton had many bright spots, proving that our community had grit and grace in the face of the pandemic. The editors struggled to identify the top 10 events of 2020 and concluded there were many more than time and space allowed. Nevertheless, we will roll out several at a time, beginning in this issue, in the hope that readers will send in their own 2020 highlights.
What a year it turned out to be, unlike any other in our lifetime, unlike any time in recent history since the Spanish flu in 1918. Early in the year, everything had seemed rosy and bright, aside from growing news reports about a deadly novel coronavirus (Covid-19) first reported in China and spreading in Europe and here in the U.S.
People started greeting each other with elbow bumps rather than handshakes but were otherwise unaware of how rapidly and drastically everything would be turned upside down. After a promising start and a calendar full of meaningful events, life as we knew it came to a grinding halt in mid-March. Connecticut schools closed. Distance learning replaced classroom instruction. Town and school events were canceled. Just about everything stopped or changed.
Acting under state-sanctioned executive orders, Gov. Ned Lamont ordered all but essential workers to stay at home as businesses, stores and public places closed. Homes became workplaces, school houses and shelters. First Selectman Dr. David Bindelglass updated residents about local developments through his weekly messages. He made the pronouncement on March 23 that Easton had its first laboratory-confirmed case. Tragically, several longtime, older residents died from Covid-19 infections.
Throughout the crisis, Eastonites helped each other and kept the faith that things would get better again. The so-called “Balloon Lady,” Patty Jurielewicz, kept people’s spirits high during the shutdown with regular balloon art displays on Westport Road.
At the close of the year, the coronavirus has killed more than 330,000 Americans, and the number keeps growing.
But the arrival of vaccines brings renewed hope. Dr. Bindelglass, an orthopedic surgeon, and his wife, Gloria, a nurse, have received their vaccinations. and Easton’s first responders will be receiving theirs over the next week or so. The vaccines will be available to all over the course of the next few months.
The virus remains a threat, and social distancing, mask-wearing and hand washing requirements will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. But, as 2020 draws to a close, 2021 brings the promise of much better times ahead and life restored to a new normal.