Jackie Carroll wanted to bring a little Christmas cheer to the town of Prospect. So she went to a dollar store for supplies and decorated the stop sign at the end of her street. Then she posted a photo on the town’s Facebook group.
Carroll’s idea took off. “Within like, a day, there was already like five to 10 poles up,” she said. “I was super surprised at how fast it caught on.”
Thirty residents and counting have decorated stop signs and street posts in town. Some signs are decorated with a string of lights or wrapped like a present. One looks like a chimney with Santa’s feet hanging out.
Carroll got the idea from her hometown of Milford and then called Prospect Mayor Bob Chatfield for his approval.
Chatfield agreed it was a great idea. “And she took care of the whole thing and put it on social media,” he said.
They set some rules. Only the pole can be decorated, and nothing can block the sign itself. Decorators are responsible for their own cleanup in early January.
“I never believed [it would have] -- I’ll use the term exploded -- the way it has,” Chatfield said.
The mayor said he believes adorning the stop signs allows residents to express holiday cheer safely during the pandemic. “I think it’s got a lot to do with COVID. I see a lot more Christmas decorations, holiday decorations than any other year in the past,” Chatfield said.
Carroll liked the idea of decorating her home, but the costs of hanging lights were an extra expense she couldn't afford. Both she and her boyfriend lost their jobs during the pandemic and she’s a new mom. Decorating a stop sign, however, fit her budget.
“I wanted to do something in the community, especially to help bring cheer,” Carroll said, “because I know it’s definitely not just me that’s struggling.”
And with this year’s overwhelming success, many in town think decorated stop signs will be a tradition in Prospect for years to come.
Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Ali covers the Naugatuck River Valley for Connecticut Public Radio. Email her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @ahleeoh.