Sunset Drama On Sunrise

Sunrise Road was not made for 18-wheelers.

The driver of a truck filled with 43,000 pounds of refrigerated meat — bound from Minnesota to West Haven — learned that out the hard way last night at 7.

He tried to make a right turn onto Saugatuck Avenue — no easy feat even for Mini Coopers. Soon, he was hung up on a stone wall.

Alert “06880” reader Gerald F. Romano Jr. was on the scene. For the next 2 1/2 hours, he says, Westport police and firefighters did a great job. A crew from Quality Towing unloaded 10,000 pounds of meat off the truck.

That lightened the load, so the Quality guys could pull the rear wheels off the wall. No one one was injured. The driver — who said this was his first incident in 40 years — drove off.

(All photos Gerald F. Romano Jr.)

“It all ended well,” Romano says.

But just imagine if the driver had headed for the William F. Cribari Bridge.

Compo Beach: 2018 Style

Compo Beach sure looks and feels a lot different this year than last.

If you haven’t noticed, you’re not paying attention.

Or maybe you can’t get in.

A quick recap: This past winter — in response to Westporters’ rising complaints about overcrowded parking, picnic tables and sand — the Parks and Recreation Commission did some rising itself.

They raised the price of season beach stickers for Weston residents, from $250 to $375. They raised it for all other non-residents even more: from $490 to $775.

Daily passes rose too. They’re now $50 on weekdays, $65 on weekends.

Westporters’ prices rose slightly. A season sticker is now $50 ($25 for seniors).

Parks & Rec also instituted caps on sales. They limited non-resident sticker sales to 350 (from the previous 600). And — perhaps most significantly — there is now a daily cap: No more than 100 non-residents are allowed in each day. Signs on nearby roads indicate when the limit has been reached (sometimes as early as noon).

South Compo Road, just before the Minute Man.

Add in newly remodeled bathrooms on both sides of the bathhouses, and extra grills at South Beach; a new entrance pattern and special parking area for non-residents — leaving prime beachfront spots for Westporters — and the difference is palpable.

Many beachgoers love the “new” Compo. They applaud the space they’ve got, the availability of picnic tables and grills, even the lower decibel level.

Compo Beach isn’t always this empty. But it’s a lot less crowded than it used to be.

Others are less pleased.

They wonder about lost revenue. Though Parks & Rec said that increased fees would pay for better maintenance and the full-time cop, it seems from anecdotal evidence and those daily cap signs that the beach is bringing in a lot less money than it used to.

That probably also affects Joey’s by the Shore. It may have contributed to PAL sitting on a few hundred unsold fireworks tickets this year — thousands of dollars that won’t go to programs and kids.

And smaller crowds means less “life” at the beach. There are fewer languages spoken, fewer games played on the grass, fewer opportunities to share our shore with others.

Plenty of people think that’s great. It’s our beach — paid for by our tax dollars.

Others miss the out-of-town regulars they used to see, and worry we’ve only added to our “elitist” image.

What do you think? Do you love the changes, and think they’re long overdue? Do you think they’re too draconian? Are you conflicted?

Click “Comments” below. And — as always — please keep things civil. Play nice in the sand.

As part of its changes, Parks & Rec posted several signs outlining rules at Compo Beach.

Pic Of The Day #454

The famous Compo Beach palm tree (Photo/Dave Curtis, HDFAPhotography.com)

Abstract Irony

Alert “06880” reader — and ace photographer — JP Vellotti sent me this shot, from the weekend’s Fine Arts Festival. He calls it “Abstract Irony.”

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

It took me a few seconds to figure out why he gave it that title.

When I realized the reason, it fit perfectly.

If you catch the irony in JP’s image, click “Comments” below.

Meanwhile, kudos to the Westport Downtown Merchants Association for this year’s 45th annual event.

Over 180 exhibitors in charcoal, watercolor, pastel, pencil, ink, photography, digital art, sculpture, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry and wood filled Main Street, Elm Street and Church Lane.

Live music, special performances, children’s activities, food and non-profit groups’ exhibits added to the flair.

Around the corner, the Westport Library‘s annual book sale drew plenty of bargain hunters (some of whom were also paying serious prices for art).

The book (and CD) (and DVD) (and more) sale continues tomorrow (Monday, July 16, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., half price day) and Tuesday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m., everything free but contributions gladly accepted).

It was a great weekend to be downtown.

And I say that without any irony whatsoever.

Photo Challenge #185

Just when you think there’s no more open space in Westport — along comes last week’s Photo Challenge.

Chip Stephens’ shot showed an old-school tree fort, in the woods. (Click here to see.) Guesses included Winslow Park, Earthplace and Camp Mahackeno. 

Good ideas, all. But the scene was actually the Children’s Natural Playground at the Leonard Schine Preserve, off Weston Road near Bridgewater’s complex.

Kristin Schneeman, Stan Skowronski and Jonathan McClure knew the answer. But overall, there were not many guesses.  I guess too many people were outside, enjoying one of the most beautiful days of the year.

Perhaps they were at the Leonard Schine Preserve. It’s one of Westport’s hidden gems — literally and figuratively. Click here for details. But if you go, bring repellent — then check for deer ticks.

They don’t call it the “Natural Playground” for nothing.

Here’s this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d find it, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

Westport Is Really Anytown USA

Sure, we may be entering the mother of all global trade wars.

No, you probably don’t want to buy t-shirts or sneakers made by 9-year-olds in an overseas sweatshop.

But how can you know which products were made in a foreign country, and which come from the good ol’ USA?

Just click on AnytownUSA.

The website — which calls itself the first-ever “American Made Marketplace” — is Geralyn Breig’s brainchild. A high-powered Wharton grad who served as president of Clarks America, Avon North America and Godiva Chocolatier International, she may be promoting Anytown.

But she lives and works in Our Town.

The site went live less than a month ago. It offers thousands of products, and dozens of sellers. Its bread and butter is local artisans, small businesses and locally made products. They range from apparel and accessories to home goods, and from individually crafted one-of-a-kind pieces to large-scale manufactured merchandise.

The only requirement: Every product must be made in this country.

Geralyn Breig (right) and seller Michelle Ciarlo Hayes on the recent SiriusXM “Tastemakers” program.

Consumer Reports says that 80% of Americans would prefer to buy American-made goods than comparable, imported ones. Over 60% say they’d pay a slight premium.

Breig spent the past year traveling across the country, meeting people who make items domestically. She also found some right here, at last winter’s Westport Young Woman’s League holiday crafts show.

Now — from her office on Post Road West — she’s given them all a platform to connect with shoppers from coast to coast.

(Click here for AnytownUSA. Social media links include Twitter  @anytown_usa_; Facebook @AnytownUSA.marketplace; Instagram @anytown_usa_ and Pinterest: @AnytownUSAcom.

Pics Of The Day #453

Stars and Stripes on Bradley Street (Photos/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Tyler Hicks’ Refugees

This summer, Jerusalem Peacebuilders Youth Leadership Program brings Jewish, Christian and Muslim teenagers from across the Middle East to 4 sites in the US. They learn about each other — and themselves — in the hopes of creating a better future across religions, cultures and nationalities.

New Haven is one of those 4 hosts. This week, participants worked together on a large mural depicting young refugees washing ashore. Called “We Welcome Refugees,” it will hang near Exit 42 of I-95 in West Haven.

Working on the mural, on the New Haven Green. (Photo/Carly Wanna for New Haven Independent)

According to the New Haven Independent, the mural was inspired by a photo of a young Turkish boy arriving in Greece in 2015. Artist Russell Rainbolt — who is working with the Jerusalem Peacebuilders teens — generalized the image to represent all refugees, everywhere. That fits well with the program’s theme of a common humanity.

Nice. But why is this story “06880”-worthy?

The photo that the Rainbolt and the teenagers are working from was taken by New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks.

The Tyler Hicks photo that inspired artist Russell Rainbolt. (Photo/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

And — as proud Westporters know — that Pulitzer Prize winner is a 1988 graduate of Staples High School.

For the past couple of decades, he’s wandered — and photographed — the world. These days, he lives in Kenya.

But an impressive interpretation of his work will soon hang a few miles from here. “06880” is indeed where Westport — and West Haven — meet the world.

(Hat tip: Mary Webber)

A Dog Named Misty Mae

Julie Loparo — president of Westport Animal Shelter Advocates — loves dogs. 

She loves dog stories too. Here’s one she shares with “06880” readers:

Winslow Park may not be the place where everybody knows your name.

But they do know your dog’s name.

Regulars at the downtown park are quick to share stories about their own dogs, and answer questions about yours.

When a dog gets distracted by a squirrel or another canine buddy, the group watches closely until it’s reunited with its owner.

Just another day at Winslow Park.

Several weeks ago however, the crowd discovered a little one that’s a poster dog for the ever-growing number of abandoned dogs (and cats) in Connecticut.

A senior, blind long-haired chihuahua was found in a beat-up dog carrier on a park bench. How she got there, and how long she’d been there, were mysteries.

But clearly, she’d been left there.

Westport Animal Control quickly responded. She was transported to Schulhof Animal Hospital for evaluation and care.

Once stabilized and treated for a possible flea situation, she was brought back to Animal Control.

It became clear she was not keen on the food being served (though it’s very high quality dog food). A Westport Animal Shelter Advocates volunteer prepared healthy meals of organic meats and vegetables. The little one liked that.

Misty Mae

On Wednesday, WASA officially adopted “Misty Mae” into their foster family.

With the help of Schulhof’s staff, WASA will bring her up-to-date on vet care, with vaccinations, and detailed blood and dental work. They’ll consult with eye specialists, to see if she’s a candidate for cataract surgeries.

They’ll also search for a new, loving home for Misty Mae.

She’s sweet, quiet, and 10 to 12 years old. She has not been reactive to other dogs, though additional testing will be done. She loves to be brushed and cuddled. She’s a lap dog in every sense of the word.

For additional information about Misty Mae, call 203-557-0361, or email wasa1@optonline.net.

To donate for her vet care, click here (and note that you are contributing for Misty Mae).

Winslow Park is definitely the place where everyone knows your dog’s name.

And Westport is where Animal Control, WASA and Schulhof all come together to help a dog named Misty Mae.

Pic Of The Day #452

The end of a Compo Beach lifeguard’s day (Photo/Doris Ghitelman)