For some, stars are a unifying symbol of hope, reminding us that we are part of a world that is much bigger than our own little community.  For others, stars are symbols of divine guidance or love from those who have passed on before us.  A shooting star is thought to represent the rise of the human spirit.  Ultimately, all these luminous points in the sky represent positive forces in life and provide natural beauty and pure joy, lifting our spirits. 

The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce is producing its most ambitious project ever.  We aim to create a temporary, 2 state, magical holiday art installation making downtown Westerly-Pawcatuck merry and bright this holiday season. A visit to the Starry Lights installation will be free and awe inspiring.  The innovative exhibition will include large-scale art installations created by CT and RI artists exploring a variety of  materials and taking advantage of two parks and a reflective pond.  Visitors will stroll the Walk of Wonder,  a twinkling light trail from Wilcox Park in Westerly to Donahue Park in Pawcatuck. To amplify the amazing display, large sculptures will be placed in both parks. The multifaceted light installation will consist of hundreds of hand crafted, illuminated stars by talented artists, craftsmen and contractors to create the exhibit  and install the canopy of stars.

Displays in Wilcox Park, Westerly Rhode Island

  • 17 Foot tall archway tunnel of stars at the esplanade entrance to the park that extends 40 feet and has a solar feature inside.

  • Thousands of twinkling star lights will dangle from trees.

  • A 40 foot long, 15 foot tall Star Tunnel wrapped in warm twinkling lights.

  • a 20 foot Starry Lights Tree with lit stars will be erected.

  • Star Island, a giant kinetic star sculpture of 25 stars will be installed in the pond.

  • 12 foot tall double star archway.

  • 12 foot tall holiday ornament designed with stars.

  • Giant swing where you can literally "swing upon a star"

  • Star Bench awning

  • 4 foot, 6 foot, and 10 foot metal stars adorned with macramé rope designs, intricate yarn patterns and warm white lights.

  • The Infinity Exhibit will be a Memorial area with stars dedicated to loved ones who’ve passed.  It will symbolize that the love for these souls will last for infinity and beyond.

 

Displays in Donahue Park, Pawcatuck, CT

  • Gazebo will be transformed into a beautiful lit area with crafts created by Stonington Public School students.

  • Twinkling star lights will dangle from trees and the railing along the river.

  • 10 foot metal star decorated by Mystic Knotwork

  • 8 foot tall illuminated star chair.

  • 15 food tall star tree

  • Wall of Wishes– Stonington Children will hand paint 7 inch wooden stars that share their artwork on one-side and wishes for the future on the other.  These personal reflections and messages of hope and love will literally be written in the stars!  This exhibit would engage community members to create and display their own stars that would become part of a 300 foot long galaxy display.  It will symbolize that we are all equally valued and brilliant contributing members of society, and that together, we can make the world a brighter place.

Display in Donahue Park, Pawcatuck, CT

9 foot tall illuminated Star Station.

 

High Street Westerly 

100 handcrafted wooden stars 2-4 feet displayed throughout the business district.

A canopy of stars will blanket the sky on High Street.

 

Starring Artists Exhibit

To help our region’s artists shine on, there will be a display of professional artist’s works on recycled wooden pallet stars that will be painted and placed in the windows of  small businesses. 

Starry Lights will be on display for a minimum of 3 weeks in December, 2022.   Starry Lights will provide numerous locations for the perfect selfie spot, will make a terrific backdrop for family holiday cards, and will be a great excuse to come and explore beautiful downtown Westerly, RI-Pawcatuck, CT.  Before or after your visit, we encourage you to support the eclectic shops and outstanding restaurants in this historic, hip and happening 2 state downtown.  The lights will go on by 4:30pm each night and turn off at 9:00pm.

Please consider making a donation today to support Starry Lights, a special project of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce, 1 Chamber Way, Westerly RI 02891.  We have raised $62,000 towards the $75,000+ minimum needed to make an impactful display.  We hope that we can count on your support.

ABOUT

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EXHIBITS

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Star Tunnel by Christopher Owens, Chester, CT

Star Chair by Nico DiMaggio, Westerly, RI

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10'foot Metal Star
crafted by Nico DiMaggio, Westerly, RI and Hand
knotted by Jill Beaudoin of Mystic Knotwork

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4'foot Metal Star
crafted by Nico DiMaggio, Westerly, RI and Knit by Judy Trotta, Narragansett, RI

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9'foot Star Photo Station crafted by D Derek, Stonington Borough, CT

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2'foot Wooden Pallet Stars crafted by Tom Desrosier, Griswold, CT

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10' x 10'Star Box
created by Christopher Owens, Chester, CT

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GOALS

● Promote tourism and increase visitation to the Towns of Stonington, CT and Westerly, RI, by creating a unique attraction. 

● Create a safe outdoor activity that is enjoyable to all ages.

● Promote the talents of participating artists from the 2-state region who are creating stars for display  and provide a collaborative project for them to blend their unique styles.  Provide a networking forum for the region’s artists to meet one another and cross promote.

● Encourage young artists by engaging local children and families in the artistic process at community workshops where all supplies are provided.  This is a safe, fun family activity.

● Enhance the holiday season by making spirits bright with this joyful presentation.

● Encourage physical activity by creating an attractive environment that gets visitors to walk around the downtown and in the 14 acre Wilcox Park and neighboring Donahue Park.

● Strengthen awareness of the distinctive character  and unique attractions in our 2-state downtown community

● Contribute to Connecticut’s and Rhode Island’s cultural assets as a unique art installation that becomes a landmark attraction.

● Promote collaboration between the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce and some of its members including artists, local contractors, the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park, the Artist Cooperative Gallery of Westerly, Westerly Education Center and The Stonington COMO.

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FAQs

Where did the idea come from?

In the charming village of Chester CT, artist Christopher Owens has created a magical display of lit stars on downtown buildings and homes for the last 2 years. Lisa Konicki, President of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce, saw the display on social media in 2021 and  then visited the town in December 2022.  Impressed by the beauty and simplicity of the exhibit, she took lots of pictures and her wheels started turning.  Lisa began romancing the idea of bringing Starry Lights to our downtown parks. Lit stars on buildings are not enough though.  She is including talented artists and large scale installations to make it a community effort.  She had every intention of reaching out to Christopher Owens (aka "Star Man") to tell him that he had inspired her to do something locally when, coincidentally, the stars aligned and Christopher contacted her!  He had seen all of the press for the Chamber’s Stonington Lobster Trap Tree and messaged her a note of congratulations.  While they were “friends” on Facebook for a few years they had never met.  That weekend, Lisa drove to Chester, toured his studio and outlined what she had in mind.   The next week Christopher came to Westerly-Pawcatuck and took a tour of our proposed event area.  The brainstorming and collaboration has continued ever since.

Will the Town of Stonington and Westerly Library allow this exhibit?

The Town of Stonington is already enthusiastically supporting the concept and the Westerly Public Library has given us the green light to proceed with a formal plan.  Alan Peck has met with Lisa Konicki and Artist Christopher Owens aka "Star Man" to provide logistical support on behalf of Wilcox Park.

Is this a fundraiser?

No.  Starry Lights is not a fundraiser.  In fact, The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce will incur significant up-front costs to create this magical installation. There will be costs for constructing the installations, lights, electricity, event permits and insurance.  There are costs associated with the creation of this new website and the insurance policy to protect the organization against liability.  There will be costs for event programs, marketing, labor to set up and break down the display and more. 

Will this be an annual event?

We are not making any promises but we are also not ruling anything out. 

How can I get involved as a volunteer or sponsor?

Volunteers are needed to help hang lights and set-up the installation which begins in late November.  We will also need volunteers each night to serve for 2.5 hour shifts as docents to greet the public, take photos and answer questions about the project.  See the sponsor page for information or contact us directly for a custom sponsor package. 

Contact Lisa Konicki via

Email: Lkonicki@oceanchamber.org

Phone: 401-596-7761

How do I donate to support the project and is it tax deductible?

Send your check payable to OCCC, 1 Chamber Way, Westerly, RI 02891.

Corporate sponsorships payable to the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce are considered a marketing investment and are therefore considered an ordinary business expense.  They are not a charitable donation.  However, to make a donation that is 100% tax deductible as a charitable contribution, donate to the Ocean Community Chamber Foundation and your money will support the creation of large scale exhibits by local artists and educational centers. 

How would I get to have a star in the memorial display or in one of the parks? 

If you are a member of the local community, or a local business who would like to have a star representing your company or loved one, sponsor the event.

Would dogs be allowed at Starry Lights?  

Yes, if they are on a leash at all times. Please clean up after your pet and always keep a safe distance from other dogs and from people, as not everyone is comfortable with animals.  

About the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce

The mission of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce is to serve the interests of member businesses and enhance their success while providing community leadership to ensure balanced economic advancement and a high quality of life. We champion our communities' economic and cultural vitality through advocacy, education and networking.  The word “community” is in our name for a reason and refers to the two state region we serve.  We value the arts as a vital part of the local economy and recognize the enriching affect they have on the lives of local residents.  This project, like many others we produce, brings together residents, businesses and the arts community for a shared benefit.  The OCCC also produces the Virtu Art Festival each summer in Wilcox Park, the Fusion bodypainting event at the Velvet Mill in Stonington and the Stonington Lobster Trap Tree.  We produce the annual River Glow event in downtown, on the Pawcatuck River, each August.  To learn more about all our events and activities visit oceanchamber.org 

 

About the Ocean Community Chamber Foundation

The OCCF is the charitable arm of the OCCC and is accepting donations to underwrite star making workshops for local children.  The OCCF also produces educational heirloom publications that raise money for local charities including the Pop Up Book of Stonington and the Pop Up Book of Westerly.  We produce the annual Pawcatuck River Duck Race in April which raises funds for over 50 local schools and charities.  We also produce the ATHENA leadership award program and provide thousands of dollars in scholarship funds to local youth each year.

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