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Norfolk’s Fledgling Christmas Tree Has Very Special Ornament


By Jude Mead

Norfolk has always been a town where the community celebrates together with mirth and merry. This year, though, it will look particularly festive for the holidays, thanks to the hard work of local residents. Doreen Kelly, a member of the Economic Development Committee (EDC) says, “This year the Norfolk Community Association and the EDC worked together to add holiday décor to the downtown area.”

According to Kelly, the two groups filled town planters with evergreens and red berries and decorated a tree with white lights to brighten up the Robertson Fountain area in the center of town. The most exciting addition to the town’s ornamentation, however, is a colossal-sized snowflake designed and created by Norfolk’s own John Thew, a well-known painter and sculptor.

Thew gifted to the town his time and skills to complete the project before the lighting of the newly planted tree that now resides on the village green. The smaller tree is only about one-third the size of its predecessor, which had to be removed due to aging and decay. In order to give the fresh, modest evergreen more presence, Kelly brainstormed with Norfolk Historical Society Director Barry Webber and came up with the idea for a huge snowflake. After an extensive search for a commercial design with no luck, the duo thought of asking a resident artist. They both knew that John Thew was the person for the job.

Thew first drafted a design using two large pieces of drawing paper that he taped together to make a 24-inch by 24-inch piece. After drafting the snowflake on the paper, he adhered it to a 1/10-inch-thick sheet of aluminum with an adhesive spray. According to Thew, it took eight plates of aluminum to make the six pointed snowflake. “I cut out the hexagon shape with a band saw. It took precision and patience,” said Thew.

Because of the size, Thew needed forty rivets to hold it together. “The snowflake is two feet across, two feet high, and two feet wide. It’s pretty big.” he said. The massive undertaking took some time to complete, but Thew said he had a good time doing it. “Doing something I enjoy is always a pleasure and I seem to lose track of everything else. It’s exciting.” remarked Thew.

That excitement and joy that Thew experienced will now be shared with the folks of Norfolk and their visitors. The brilliantly lit snowflake and tree along with the other attractive trimmings in town are sure to add charm to the season and merriment to all.

Photo by Doreen Kelly: Barry Webber, who had the idea, and John Thew, who carried it out, hold up the two-foot snowflake that will decorate Norfolk’s Christmas tree on the village green.

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