NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The town of North Haven held its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Sunday evening on the town green. This year, two families were honored, including the family of fallen Bristol Police Lt. Dustin DeMonte.

Hundreds gathered for the tradition. The town’s first selectman, Michael Freda, was joined by two families in the pavilion.

Kostyantyn Yermakov, his wife, Olga, and their 16-year-old son Daniil fled Ukraine earlier this year and relocated to North Haven to rebuild their lives.

“It’s a great honor for us to participate tonight in your activities. Back home, we celebrate Christmas, but we don’t have it that way you do here,” said Kostyantyn Yermakov. “After this month of going back and forth and running away from evil, evil powers, it’s such a relief to be with you.”

The town also rallied around the family of DeMonte, one of two Bristol police officers killed in the line of duty in October. DeMonte’s wife, Laura, and their two children and grandparents were at the ceremony. 

DeMonte’s children, Phoebe and Porter, led the countdown to light the Christmas tree. Laura DeMonte thanked the community for the support in this dark time. 

“After losing my husband, I am left brokenhearted, devastated and confused. However, during this catastrophic storm in life, family and community have carried us, and will pull us through,” she said. “I want you to know that you have been my kids’ and my lifeboat in our very worst storm. You are the reason we get by day to day and will be okay, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for that.”