'Moosie's Herd of Hope' lifts holiday spirits
Video and most photos courtesy of Tom and Hanna Glassey
By John Fitts
In Canton, Connecticut the Moose herd – and by extension holiday spirit – is growing rapidly.
While periodic moose sightings in town are always thrilling for those lucky enough to experience them, the wooden animals, dubbed “Moosie’s Herd of Hope,” on Bahre Corner Road is accessible to everyone and is boosting spirits once again this season.
It was approximately 15 years ago, that Tom Glassey, a hobbyist with a wood shop in the basement, got a set of plans for wooden moose and for 10 years or more, the family’s front yard included two wooden moose, along with a large standing reindeer.
In 2020, his daughter, Hanna, asked if they could expand the display and make it more "magical" for the holiday season.
“With everything going on, we just wanted a simple way to put smiles on people’s faces for Christmas, because some people weren’t able to be with family – and were lonely – so we just wanted to make them happy," said Hanna, who is now 13. "So we had this idea of just adding to the herd, putting out some lights and calling it “Moosie’s Herd of Hope” for the hope of the new year."
It was a fitting name in more ways than one. In addition to the weight of the pandemic, Hanna’s nickname is Moose or Moosie.
“My mom [Elisabeth] is Norwegian so when I was younger she would call me “Lille Mus,” which means little mouse, but he [Tom] thought it meant the big clunky thing, so he called me moosie, so we kind of named this herd after that," Hanna said.
Last year, Tom Glassey said, Hanna cut, sanded, painted, assembled, and decorated the additional moose, scaling those original designs, creating some 4 feet tall and others 2.5 feet tall. (There's even some 9-inch tall moose in the family's home).
Dad might have guided her in the effort, but Hanna wasn’t a total novice, as she’d had already tackled building a wooden kayak some five years ago.
Their work resulted in a 2020 display of 28 moose, 2 reindeer, 15 light globes and LED lighting.
Scores of people drove by and some even left Christmas cards in the mailbox and one woman came down the driveway in tears to tell the family how much of a bright spot the display provided in what was, for her, a particularly tough year. She told them it put a smile on her face.
This year, Hanna and her dad got back to work, and passersby can now enjoy 40 moose, 2 deer, 28 globes and additional features set over approximately one acre.
Once again, the display has generated positive reactions and even won "most creative" in a town contest.
“It has been wonderful to see people slow down and take countless pictures and videos as word of mouth and Facebook posts share Hanna’s story,” Tom Glassey said. “People have come to the house in tears thanking Hanna for giving them something to enjoy that makes them smile. Total strangers have sent Holiday cards thanking her for taking the time to make such a peaceful display. The simplicity and calmness of the moose seems to resonate with young and old.”
Laurie Carson McKenna is one Canton resident who commented on a recent Facebook post (used with permission), stating, "We drove by the other night and it was just awesome. Thank you to this family for taking the time and effort."
The display is growing in popularity and the town has even put up caution signs so motorists take note of slow moving traffic near the display, which is just a little ways from Bahre Corner’s intersection with Dry Bridge Road, Lawton Road and Gracey Road in Canton. Those unfamiliar with the area might take some caution as some of the roads can be a bit winding.
And the family encourages more people to come drive by the display, preferably while playing holiday music. It will be lit daily from dusk to at least 9 p.m. (About one hour later on holidays), approximately through the third week in January.