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To mark a quarter-century of Stew Leonard’s in Danbury, Conn., the Leonard family will host an in-store Oct. 5 celebration at the location on 99 Federal Road from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., at which cake and refreshments will be served. Mayor Mark Boughton will also be on hand to issue a proclamation designating Oct. 5 as Stew Leonard’s Day in Danbury.
The Leonard family’s roots in the city can be traced all the way back to 1888, when Patrick Joseph Leonard emigrated there from Ireland, and supported his wife and 12 children as a hat maker. Danbury is known as The Hat City because of the once-plentiful hat-making industry jobs there.
Stew Leonard Sr.’s father, Charles Leo Leonard, was born and raised in Danbury. As a young man, Charles also was a “Danbury Hatter,” working for the Frank Lee Hat Co. In 1921, Charles founded Clover Farms Dairy in Norwalk, which eventually became Stew Leonard’s
More than a century after their forefather arrived in Danbury, the Leonards opened their first retail operation in the city under a tent in December 1986, when Tom Leonard, son of founder Stew Leonard Sr., and a cousin, Dan Arthur, began selling Christmas trees along Federal Road. Now, 25 years and some 275,000 Christmas trees later, Stew Leonard’s has become a 130,000-square-foot store in Danbury. The Norwalk, Conn.-based chain operates three other stores in Connecticut and Yonkers, N.Y.