Keeper of Holiday Tree Tradition Shares “Rippo’s” Ghost Story

Some traditions create themselves. That’s what happened in an unlikely place at the end of a pier near the Greenwich/Stamford line.

Mark Anaston, whose company Anaston & Howe Services manages numerous local commercial and residential properties, said he looks after a commercial building that was original to a large estate in Cummings Point, and has since been converted to offices.

The building has an adjacent pier.

On a pier in a Stamford office park, a tree decorated with thousands of lights and a rotating strobe to mimic a lighthouse, reflects a 25 year history. Contributed photo

“For years we put a Christmas tree up at the end of the 280 ft pier so all the Old Greenwich and Stamford people can see it,” Anaston recalled. “It started off like a Charlie Brown tree – like a joke. But it’s grown, and we try to make it better or different every year. We’ve been doing it around 25 years.”

“It has to be bolted and cabled so it doesn’t blow over,” he added. “There’s a lot that goes into it.”

This year the tree is decorated with about 2,500 colorful lights and a spinning strobe at the top, which Anaston said mimics a lighthouse.

“It’s pretty spectacular,” he continued, adding that every year the decorations take on a theme.

“One year there were all-white lights, with a big star on top,” Anaston said. “Other years it’s been more group oriented, and people who are in the building all bring something to put on the tree.”

Christmas tree at the end of a pier in Cummings Point. Photo: Leslie Yager

Anaston said the office building is has a rich history.

“It’s an old building, and dates back to original estate in the 1920s when the estate included a working farm with orchards and fields, turkeys and chickens,” he said, adding that today the building, which is grandfathered to use as commercial space, is surrounded by office buildings, boats and houses.

The property, Anaston said, was recently bought by investors from Old Greenwich.

“One of them had a psychic reader come in to cleanse the property, which was funny because she hit on a number of things that made sense to me,” he said. “She said back in 1643, a number of Indians were killed down there, and that one of them is still wandering the property collecting the sea shells and piling them up. He was killed by Putnam’s Army.”

Anaston said he had always seen piles of sea shells on the property and assumed they were the work of neighborhood kids.

“That’s why when she mentioned the shells I gasped,” he said. “There were other things that were odd that she knew. She said to me, at one point, ‘I get this thing like prostitution.'”

Anaston said indeed he heard that at one point there had been a men’s club on the property.

“I’d heard the story from someone who lived on the property in the 1940s and 1950s, whose grandfather had owned the property, that there had been a men’s club and they brought in women,” he said.

“She (the psychic reader) said there was another guy still walking the property, ” he said. “She said he wasn’t harmful, and that she saw him in big wading boots.”

“Where she was talking about was where the was once a cow barn. You could picture it back then. It was odd. She also went around and burned sage and cleansed the property to create new energy,” Anaston said.

“I have a skepticism, but there’s also that part of you that wants to believe,” he added.

Anaston said the investors who purchased the property, along with their friends, planned to add sea shells with their names on them to the decorated tree.

“They’ll do it kind of as a tribute to the wandering Indian,” he said, adding that his ghost was nicknamed Rippo, possibly short for Rippowam, which was how the Sinawoy Native American inhabitants referred to the region now known as Stamford.