The committee had a decision to make – should the town do another Avon Day in 2013? The circumstances were tough, but the answer was easy.
"It’s been difficult for everybody, but we all pulled ahead in his honor to do it," said Laurie Carlson, Avon Public Works administrative coordinator and an Avon Day Committee member. "There’s no way we weren’t doing it this year."
Del Gallo Sr. helped the event grow, bringing in more food vendors and organizations, but he didn't change much about it in the years he was chairman. The event is geared toward Avon, but now many from the Farmington Valley attend.
"What he brought in was keeping Avon Day the way the town always meant it to be, which was non-commercialized as a community day," Carlson said.
There are some new features this year though, such as the Farmington Valley YMCA's obstacle course and two stages to accommodate the increase in local entertainment. During Del Gallo's time as chairman, he expanded the participation of school performance groups, according to Carlson.
Avon Day will also have a lot of the familiar features it has regularly, like the Tastes of Avon food section, train rides, RE/MAX hot air balloon rides, booths manned by local businesses and organizations, and Ski Sundown's snow sports expos. The event closes with an Avon Day favorite, the annual pie-eating contest.
Carlson said that Avon Day represents “a sense of community" and encourages area residents to stop by.
"It may open them up to organizations and businesses in town that they didn’t know were there," Carlson said.
There is no entry fee for the event, but people can buy tokens for food, rides and activities. The proceeds benefit the Avon Special Needs Fund, to help financially struggling residents pay for things like food and electric bills, Carlson said.
The Avon Day Committee has been planning the event all year without a chairman. Avon Day meetings usually happened in the Avon Room in the basement of Town Hall, but the committee moved meetings to the Public Works building instead.
“I couldn’t even face going down there and not seeing him there at the head of the table," Carlson said.
UNICO, which sponsors the Avon Citizen of the Year Award, has chosen Del Gallo Sr. as its posthumous recipient this year. Del Gallo, a former Simsbury UNICO president, brought the organization on as a sponsor in 1998. UNICO is not sponsoring the event itself this year, Carlson said.
"The Selection Committee agreed right away that Len was the Avon Citizen of the Year for 2013," Greg Van Deusen, UNICO's Award Committee chairman said in a press release. "We are saddened by the loss of our good friend, yet uplifted as we recall the precious time we spent with such a fine person.”
Van Deusen will present the award in Del Gallo Sr.'s honor at 1 p.m. at the event. The Avon Day Committee asked Town Council Chairman Mark Zacchio, a friend of the Del Gallo family, to speak about him at the award ceremony and a member of the committee will also say a few words.
Del Gallo Sr. was the kind of person who did a lot for his community behind-the-scenes, but never sought recognition for it.
Whenever Avon Day meetings digressed, Del Gallo Sr. would crack a joke to get things moving again that he was going to be late for teatime or golfing. Del Gallo often went golfing, bowling and played tennis. Working together year to year on Avon Day made the committee like a family, Carlson said.
“He was just the kind of person that would demand respect and he would get it," Carlson said. "He was so kind that you would do anything for him if he asked you to and he was just so kind.”
Avon Day will be held in the field between Thompson Brook School and Pine Grove School on Sept. 21 from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.