If the bitter cold, Christmas trees and people bundled up in winter wear wasn't enough to indicate that the holiday season is fast approaching, the release of the Unionville Village Improvement Association's annual Christmas ornament should certainly remind residents exactly what time of year it is.
For the last eight years, the UVIA has released a Christmas ornament based on a historic building or structure in Unionville.
In past years, the ornament has depicted the Unionville Bridge, the old Methodist Church, the Congregational Church, the Unionville Gazebo, the Unionville Museum, Union School, Unionville Bank and Trust, Old Tunxis Hose Firehouse and the old Saint Mary's Church.
For this year's Christmas ornament, the UVIA, after much deliberation, has chosen to honor Sanford & Hawley Inc.
The iconic red store has maintained its location at 1790 Farmington Ave. for 126 years, in a building over 200 years old. The recently-renovated lumber and building supply store is an unmistakable fixture in Unionville and was an obvious choice to feature on this year's ornament, according to UVIA President Timothy J. LeBouthillier.
"The store is such an icon in Unionville," he said. "I think it is definitely a fixture in our community and people will really be happy to see it on this year's ornament."
Sanford & Hawley Inc. is the longest standing family-run business in Farmington still operating from its original site. Although the Hawley Family is no longer associated with the store and the workforce now hovers around 100 people, the site's reputation as a Unionville institution has maintained.
"We've always been proud to be a part of the community," Sanford & Hawley President, Bob Sanford Jr. said. "We were absolutely thrilled to be chosen for this year's ornament."
The Christmas ornaments are only available at Ryan Pharmacy at 30 Mill St. for a cost of $12.00 and sets of the previous year's ornaments are available for $120.00. All proceeds from sales of the keepsakes go to the UVIA and according to Heather Graham, a clerk at Ryan Pharmacy since 2004, the demand for them could not be greater.
"We always sell out of them very quickly," she said. "We always have to reorder more half-way through December. People really seem to love the ornaments and I think they really anticipate what's going to be on them every year."
LeBouthiller explained the public's affection for the holiday keepsake.
"People here really like to feel like they're a part of the community and part of the history of Unionville," he said. "When they get their ornaments, they're contributing to the UVIA and contributing to our preservation efforts."
Since its inception in 2000, the UVIA has worked to promote and maintain historic sites in Unionville, promote business and "foster a sense of community" through various events such as movie nights at Union School and the annual Unionville festival which last year drew over 3,000 people.
Although next year's ornament could feature any number of Unionville's historic sites, for the time being, residents can only collect the previous year's keepsakes and wonder just what will grace next year's ornament.