Church Hill Road was clogged with news vans from Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Canadian TV satellite trucks occupied a large stretch of the United Methodist Church parking lot. Sidewalks were a maze of tripods, cables, high-intensity lights, microphone-wielding broadcasters and burly cameramen.

"No media" signs hung from the doors of several stores, and many people scowled at the hordes of interviewers or pointedly walked away from them.

Tim Snellman sent his 12-year-old-son and 10-year-old daughter down to Norwalk to be with his parents because he wanted to shield them from the media circus. A TV crew from France tried to interview him Friday. When he went out to dinner with his wife, an ABC crew asked to share his table because the restaurant was so crowded.

"You almost feel like they're taking over your town," he said.


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Snellman's son was tutored by Soto. His daughter graduated from Sandy Hook Elementary last year. Through his work with the Cub Scouts, he knows two of the families who lost children.

"People have a lot of sympathy for our town. There are a lot of people that have big hearts in this country and around the world," said Snellman. "It's uplifting in one way, but extremely depressing in another way to be known for this."

Back at Lathrop's School of Dance, Wardenburg finished up the day's lesson and found herself thinking about the days ahead. She's determined to have cheer return to her town.

On Monday morning, Wardenburg's son, who is 14, asked her: "Are we having a happy Christmas?"

She said she told him: "Yes, we are."

Courant staff writers Mara Lee, Don Stacom, Matthew Sturdevant and Daniela Altimari contributed to this story.