Volunteers add holiday cheer to city

Our community experienced a great loss when well-known Warren businessman and community leader Jim Economos died a few years ago.

Economos, who owned and operated Saratoga Restaurant, was known as a visionary in the city.

He also was known for his love of Christmas, said one of his daughters, Jennifer Economos Sudzina.

“He would always remark that the twinkling of the lights looked like stars,” she said. “Our Dad’s love of Christmas and the city of Warren inspired me to gift that love to everyone … in his memory.”

And so she did.

It wasn’t long after his 2015 death that Economos Sudzina and her friend, graphic designer Joyce Polenick, began working to give the community back some of the “light” it had lost with Jim Economos’ passing. They did that literally.

Now in its fourth year, the two, along with about five volunteers — all who share the great pride in their city that Jim Economos always did — have come together again to brighten the square and spread Christmas spirit with beautiful lights and holiday decor.

Economos Sudzina has said her dad loved everything about Christmas, but especially loved the lights.

Calling it “Light Up the Square,” Economos Sudzina said the project is funded completely from donations and is created by the hard work of only volunteers.

This year, they started working at the end of October, and devoted time every weekend until last weekend preparing for the Christmas season. This year, in addition to new colors and some new features, they’ve added twinkling lights along the roofline of all the Park Avenue and West Market Street buildings adjacent to Courthouse Square Park.

Along the outskirts of the square, Trumbull 100 cooperated in the effort by hanging wreaths and lighted garland.

Tonight, the city will take full advantage of the beautifully decorated square by hosting “Christmas in the Square,” in which more than 1,000 people are expected.

The festivities begin with a 5 p.m. parade, followed by carriage rides, hot cocoa, pictures with Santa, trolley rides, and of course, the annual Christmas tree lighting by Mayor Doug Franklin at 8:15 p.m.

The tree, too, was donated by “Light Up the Square.”

It’s a beautiful event, but it’s an even more beautiful display, which will remain lit each night throughout the holidays — all made possible by wonderful volunteers and donors.

If you haven’t yet seen “Light up the Square,” what are you waiting for?