New ‘cupid’ named at Town Hall

By Kitty LeShay - ReminderNews
Windham - posted Mon., Feb. 18, 2013
Karen Gilbransen, 2013's 'cupid,' is awarded the traditional red rose bouquet given by Mayor Ernie Eldridge. Photos by Kitty LeShay.
Karen Gilbransen, 2013's 'cupid,' is awarded the traditional red rose bouquet given by Mayor Ernie Eldridge. Photos by Kitty LeShay.

A family of local “cupids,” dressed in all shades of red, welcomed Karen Gilbransen into their exclusive club on Feb. 14. The philanthropists of Windham, those responsible for many of the good things people do in communities, assembled at Town Hall to await the arrival of the new cupid. The selection of the individual or couple is held secret until Valentine’s Day and then is broadcasted and celebrated with flair by the first cupid, WILI’s Wayne Norman, who was given the honor in 1982. Deceased cupids were not forgotten, but listed on a plaque which stated, “In Loving Memory.”

Mayor Ernie Eldridge opened the coronation celebration by reminding those in attendance that the people nominated for the unique award all love “Romantic Willimantic” and do good things in the community. “There was not a bad one in the lot,” he joked.

Bruce John, 2012’s cupid said being honored as cupid was the greatest experience of his life. “I joined amazing people who support and plan so many wonderful things, like Victorian Days, the Boom Box Parade, and Third Thursday. It has been a wonderful experience for me to be working with these dedicated people. It is very powerful,” he said.

Much of the work done by the cupids and their colleagues focuses on helping others. Karen Gilbransen, 2013’s cupid, seems to spend more time volunteering than in her regular job. The list of her accomplishments is long, but the highlights include mentoring youth, providing tech support at Windham Area Interfaith Ministries and Thread City Development, grant-writing for the No Freeze Project and being market co-coordinator for Third Thursday. A project she is most enthusiastic about is called “Fill-anthropic.” This group meets once a month and charges $5 as an attendance fee for those who want to get together informally, have some fun and support a good cause. The group meets at Willimantic Brewery, where she is marketing director. “We welcome individuals to come to us to promote their organization. We select one organization and help fund their projects,” she explained.

Gilbransen was surprised and pleased about being selected as 2013’s cupid. “I join really great company with all the former cupids. That is very flattering to me. I love Willimantic. My family has been here for four generations,” she said.

Eldridge summed up the feelings of this group: “Service above self. People don’t know who don’t give that giving is the best,” he said.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, John presented Gilbransen with a bow and arrow and asked her “to spread her love.” No doubt she will, as she said she would work even harder this year.

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