There are 12 months in a year. Everyone knows February is Black History Month. Thanks to television, the NFL and various other venues of display, many people now know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. New Canaanites might also be familiar with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, also in October.

Leaders of many honorable causes are trying to claim a month to call their own. The problem in New Canaan recently has been an overload of awareness efforts cluttering downtown with ribbons galore.

Town Administrator Tom Staddler discussed the issue with the Board of Selectmen at Tuesday morning's meeting.

"They seem to spread. We start out with Main and Elm and then all of a sudden it was Cherry and Forest and Pine," Staddler said of where the various awareness ribbons and balloons were being put up. "Things started get a little bit out of control and I'll take responsibility for that."

As a result of the unexpected influx of campaigns, Staddler thought it would be appropriate to draft some guidelines on the proper way the town might want to handle the posting of these ribbons and awareness markers.

"We probably do five or six of these a year already. Do we really need to have them? Would there be a better way, a different way? Should we allow signs in the front of Town Hall, signs at the train station, signs at the school and perhaps that is enough?" Staddler asked.

Another of Staddler's ideas was to designate only a few areas around town where it was appropriate to tie ribbons and balloons. He suggested a place like the Moreno Clock in the center of Elm Street where everyone can see it.

"If you just look at trees and signs on Elm and Main there are almost 50 trees on those two streets alone and 50 lamp posts," he said. "So how much does it take to get your message out and make people aware."

Staddler proposed the question to the Board of Selectmen on whether or not awareness campaigns should be done in the first place and if so, what kind of guidelines should be put in place.

"Is there any evidence that these ribbons actually are noticed by townsfolk?" Selectman Sally Hines questioned. "Are they noticed in the way that the very well-meaning non-profits hope they will be noticed?"

Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce Tucker Murphy answered that question on both ends of the spectrum.

"The domestic violence purple ribbons that are up now have a significance because they represent a case," she said. "Each ribbon represents a case that was called in to the town. The recent ones were the ovarian cancer ones, and these are month-long campaigns. Those are the ones I was getting calls from people complaining. They just thought they were ugly. They had tied them to every stop sign and everything that was standing up so that is when Tom and I started discussing the issue."

Murphy did say the issue tho was not so much aesthetic as it was clutter and cleanliness. Staddler and Murphy had to take down many of those ribbons themselves as the people who put ribbons did not return to retrieve them.

"That is part of it," she said. "If we do decide to keep on going with these, that whoever the organization is that decides to put them up has to take them down because Tom and I were out with scissors taking them down. They also have to be ribbons that are going to withstand rain and weather because they look great day one and then they start falling apart."

The selectmen agreed that something needs to be put in place to prevent the overload.

"There has been a preponderance of these on street signs and they fall down. It is not looking as professional and I think the awareness message is getting lost in terms of distraction," Selectman Rob Mallozzi said. "So I think it is a good discussion to have about where we want to be."

Mallozzi liked the idea of a few areas that could be set aside for the purpose of awareness and even brought up the idea of simply limiting some for the campaigns to a week or two as opposed to the entire month.

"I like what you are talking about in terms of three or four or five designated areas in town that are centrally located that would seem to be able to handle a ribbon or some type of awareness," Mallozzi said. "That to me makes an awful lot of sense. But I believe it is getting a bit out of hand in terms of what is out there."

After the discussion, the Board of Selectmen decided some guidelines should be created for approval at a their next meeting.

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