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2013 In Review: Danbury Celebrates $100K Check For High School

The Danbury High School cheerleaders spell out the six-figure size of the prize at an assembly in November.
The Danbury High School cheerleaders spell out the six-figure size of the prize at an assembly in November. Photo Credit: File

DANBURY, Conn. -- It was a year of highs and lows across Danbury, with the students at Danbury High School celebrating a big payday, consumers finding new places to shop, but the city mourning the loss of two slain young people.

Students at Danbury High School spearheaded an effort to win a nationwide online contest called "Celebrate My Drive" run by State Farm Insurance. The hard work paid off: By getting tens of thousands of people to pledge to drive safely, Danbury High scored in the Top 5 in the contest and earned a check for $100,000 .

Mayor Mark Boughton made history by becoming the longest-serving mayor in Danbury's history when he was re-elected in November to his seventh term. The Republican mayor also became famous for his use of Twitter using the name @MayorMark . Boughton also announced he may run for governor .

In June, residents were startled to learn that a bear cub had taken up residence in a tree behind the Bishop Curtis Homes on Main Street. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was called to the scene to tranquilize and remove the wild animal.

Luan Pitol, a 19-year-old Danbury man was stabbed to death in a fight at Wooster and Grand streets on Dec. 7. Emanuel Von Harris, 17, was charged with murder in Pitol's death and first-degree assault in the stabbing of a second man, police said. A police investigation found the fight began over a thrown soda can.

This was the second homicide reported in Danbury this year. In October, Christian Williams, 25, was charged with manslaughter in the beating death of his 19-month-old son. The state Department of Children and Families had earlier recommended that Williams not have contact with his young son.

Three Danbury teens were arrested on breach of peace charges in a fight that erupted at the Danbury Fair Mall on Black Friday in November. Some 911 callers reported possible shots fired, police said. Officers determined that no gun had been involved but found three teens had been in a fight near the McDonald's, police said. In the ensuing chaos that night , many panicked shoppers fled and caused already congested traffic to become even more gridlocked.

John Valluzzo, a Ridgefield man shot to death in his home by a Ridgefield police officer in May, was the founder and president of the Military Museum of Southern New England in Danbury. Ridgefield police had been responding to a report of a domestic dispute and said Valluzzo had been waving a weapon.

Danbury welcomed a number of new places to shop during the year. A Whole Foods opened on May 17 to great crowds and fanfare across the street from the Danbury Fair Mall. Its interior included a nod to The Dairy Bar at Marcus Dairy that was previously on the spot.

Just a few days later, on May 21, a new PriceRite opened on Main Street , filling a spot previously held by an A&P that had closed a year earlier.

Planet Fitness opened a two-story fitness club on Federal Road in December, filling the space previously occupied by Border's Book Store.

Chuck E. Cheese took down its sign and closed its doors forever. It had been located in the Airport Plaza strip mall on Backus Avenue across from the Danbury Fair Mall and next to the runway of the Danbury Airport.

After threats that the air traffic control tower at the Danbury Airport would be closed due to federal sequestration spending cuts, the Federal Aviation Authority announced in May it had found the funding to keep the tower open .

Five people were arrested in February at Lily’s Spa on West Street, a Danbury massage parlor that police said was offering unlicensed massages and sex . The employees were uncooperative but customers were “very willing” to provide information that led to the arrests, police said. Those arrested faced charges of prostitution, patronizing a prostitute and performing massage therapy without a license.

The Rev. David Wentroble, a Nyack Hospital chaplain and a minister at Central Presbyterian Church in Haverstraw, N.Y., suffered third-degree burns over much of his body after an explosion at a Danbury gas station in December.

Danbury celebrated the opening of the city's Office of Early Childhood on West Street with a ribbon-cutting in December. The office will be operated by Danbury’s Promise for Children Partnership.

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