David Loffredo And The Donald

Longtime Westporter — and frequent “06880” commenter — David Loffredo was invited to speak at an event at the Trump Doral.

Intrigued, he accepted. He’d never been to a Trump resort before.

“It’s everything you’d expect — lots of gold,” David reports.

Last night, there was a buzz that the Republican presidential candidate was coming.

After David spoke, he headed toward the lobby. Bam!

Donald Trump - by David Loffredo

“His employees — mostly minorities — love this guy,” David says.

He also talked to Secret Service members. “They said he’s a ‘rock star.'”

Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Westport Police Open “Citizens’ Academy”

Across the country, police-citizen relations are in the news.

Westport cops have a great reputation. But they want to do even more to help folks understand the reality of their lives.

A Citizens’ Police Academy begins September 8. Up to 24 Westporters will take law enforcement classes from local police officers. They’ll also participate in ride-alongs, and earn CPR/AED certification.

Classes meet every Thursday (7-9:30 p.m.), for 9 weeks.

I’ve done a ride-along. It was a fascinating experience.

The course seems educational, intriguing, and very valuable. It’s open to all Westport residents 21 and older. For more information, including an application, call Jillian Cabana: 203-341-6009.

Westport Police

Main Street Business Floats Away

More than 4 years ago, David Conneely made a life-changing decision. He moved from Brooklyn to Westport, to own and operate iFloat.

The Boston-area native did not know anyone here. He had never owned a business. But he loved floating — a method of reducing stress and feeling relaxed, using warm salt water in a quiet place — and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.

He put his life into his business, on the 2nd floor of Main Street above Oscar’s. He educated people about the benefits of floating. He hosted events that enhance mind-body connections. He solved his own problems, like retail neighbors playing loud, pulsing music.

“It’s been quite a ride — a lot of blood, sweat, and tears,” David says.

“But I look back and see a positive impact on people’s lives as a result of what I have done here. I’ve made a difference, developed friendships, a community, people whom I love and who love me.”

David Conneely iFloat

Yet just as David helps folks relax and feel better, he’s come to understand himself and his own needs too.

At the end of March, he planned to use his one day off — a Monday — to hang out with a client, who has since become a good friend. But a business issue arose, and he canceled.

Anne told David that she felt his life was unbalanced. As they talked, he realized she was right. He did not have much of a life outside iFloat. He was unhappy.

He said, “If someone walked in and wrote a check for the place, I’d walk away.”

She encouraged him to sell.

One of the iFloat relaxation tanks.

One of the iFloat relaxation tanks.

He started the process. He de-cluttered the place, wrote a valuation document, met with his accountant and friends. It was not easy.

When a suitable arrangement could not be found, he decided to just shut down.

But David could not simply walk away. He stayed open a month longer than he planned — through July 31 — so that people could use any gift certificates or pre-purchased floats they had.

“I’m glad I gave everyone a month’s notice,” he says. “I’ve received a lot of support, by email and in person. It’s been an honor to own and run iFloat. I’m grateful to have met so many wonderful people.”

iFloat logoDavid realizes that he and iFloat have impacted many lives. “I’m happy what I’ve done here,” he says. “And I’m happy to be moving forward.”

David plans to publish a book about floating (it’s almost done). He may go back to teaching high school biology — his previous profession — or do some life coaching or counseling.

He may resettle in Boston or New York. He also looks forward to spending 3 months on an island off Thailand.

Small businesses frequently come and go in Westport. Seldom, though, do they impact so many lives — or leave with such grace and class.

Westport Shows Her True Colors

Severe thunderstorms moved through Westport early this evening.

And then…

Rainbow - July 25, 2016 - David Waldman

(Photo/David Waldman)

(Photos/David Waldman)

(Photo/David Waldman)

(Photo/Robert Mitchell)

(Photo/Robert Mitchell)

Burying Hill Beach - July 25, 2016 - Jessica Isaacs

(Photo/Jessica Isaacs)

Finally, a bit later…

Compo Beach, looking west. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Compo Beach, looking west. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Cole Dickinson’s Baseball Career Is A Cakewalk

Three years ago, Westport’s all-stars electrified the town with a great run to the Little League World Series championship game.

Among their many fans was Rick Dickinson. A huge baseball fan himself (and former high school state champion), as the owner of Great Cakes Rick knew many of the players. Their parents bought Rick’s great cakes to celebrate birthdays, and Rick chatted with them about their sons’ achievements.

Many of those players and their families — all of Rick’s customers, really — knew his son Cole too. The little kid was there behind the counter during busy times, helping his dad.

Great Cakes closed just a few months after Westport’s World Series thrill.

But Rick is still baking locally — and Cole has turned into a baseball star himself.

Rick Dickinson stands proudly with his son Cole.

Rick Dickinson stands proudly with his son Cole.

The 12-year-old is a 3rd baseman on the New Milford Pride. His team recently won the New England regional championship, and is headed to the Cal Ripken World Series.

It’s set for July 29-August 6, in Aberdeen, Maryland. Cole’s first game is Saturday, July 30 against the Pacific Southwest team, from Hawaii.

(It’s worth noting that in the final inning of the regional final, the score was 9-9. The bases were loaded, with 2 outs. Cole’s hit won it.)

All of Westport — especially those former Little Leaguers — wish Cole and the New Milford Pride good luck at the Cal Ripken World Series.

Win or lose, we’re sure they’ll celebrate their week with plenty of great cakes.

Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Entitled Parking: A 4-fer

Today’s entitled parking shot comes from a medical complex.

Entitled parking

The driver of this car covers all the bases:

  • Pulling right up to the front door, even though it’s not a parking spot;
  • Forcing other drivers to pull around into the oncoming lane;
  • Blocking the stairs and
  • Blocking a handicapped spot.

Well done, Mr. (or Ms.) license plate 1AW-TN9.

(Just to be clear: No, there was no one in the car. And yes, it was parked that way for at least 10 minutes.)

Joshua Bell Plays Westport — Again

Joshua Bell is the most famous violinist of our time. Wherever he plays — around the world — he attracts adoring, sold-out audiences.

Despite his grueling recording and performing schedule, Bell often finds time for Westport.

Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell

In 2012 Bell helped launch Beechwood Arts and Innovation, the Westport non-profit known for its creative, eclectic Arts Immersion Salons. Music, art, film, performance, food and technology — all come together in a stunning 1806 home owned by Frederic Chiu and Jeanine Esposito.

Bell — a longtime friend of Chiu, Beechwood’s co-founder and himself an internationally acclaimed pianist — kicked off the 1st year by donating an unforgettable concert of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”

He was joined by Chiu, actor James Naughton of Weston, and 13-year-old theater student Rachel Rival. Afterwards, chef Raul Restrepo of the former River Café served an equally memorable dinner.

Several years earlier, Bell appeared with Chiu — with whom he has played for 35 years — at the sold-out Malloy lecture for the Westport Library. A few days later they performed at the Westport Country Playhouse with Audra McDonald, Glenn Close and Tony Bennett, honoring Westporter Joanne Woodward.

Jeanine Esposito, Frederic Chiu, Paul Newman and Joshua Bell, at an earlier appearance in Westport.

Jeanine Esposito, Frederic Chiu, Paul Newman and Joshua Bell, at an earlier appearance in Westport.

Next month, Bell returns to town. On Thursday, August 25 (8 p.m., United Methodist Church) — in the midst of his own vacation — he’ll give a “high 5” to Beechwood Arts & Innovation, for their 5th-year fundraiser. Chiu once again joins him on piano.

The event includes a VIP Meet-and-Greet, a conversation where they reminisce about their early days as aspiring musicians (with WQXR’s Elliot Forrest), and a celebration party at Beechwood Arts, across the street from the church.

Beechwood logoThough every seat at a fundraiser is important, Beechwood is reserving 40 seats for patrons to sponsor young music students from underserved communities. Local music non-profits Spread Music Now, Turnaround Arts, Intake, Neighborhood Studios and KEYS are helping fill those seats.

Students will sit close to the stage, and talk to Bell and Chiu during intermission. Their parents can share in the event — and all will leave with a CD.

“In our youth, both Joshua and I were deeply inspired seeing master musicians play live,” Chiu says. “Those experiences left impressions that lasted a lifetime.

“This inspires both of us to work with students. And it’s why at Beechwood we regularly include students alongside masters of their craft, in all of our events across music, art, film and performance.”

Bell and Chiu have been friends since meeting at music competitions in their native Indiana. They’ve toured together for nearly 40 years, in the U.S., Europe and South America.

Their friendship will be on display August 25. So will their world-class talents, their deep love of the arts, and their wonderful generosity to all.

(Tickets must be reserved in advance. For tickets or more information, click here or call 203-226-9462.)

On one visit to Westport, Joshua Bell played "Four Seasons." On tour with Frederic Chiu in Ecuador, Chiu stood on the winter side of the equator, and Bell on the summer side.

On one visit to Westport, Joshua Bell played “Four Seasons.” On tour with Frederic Chiu in Ecuador, Chiu stood on the winter side of the equator, and Bell on the summer side.

Introducing “06880+”: One More Community Resource

“06880” is all about stories.

There are stories of Westporters doing amazing things. Stories of Westport’s past history, present challenges and future trends. Stories of Westport drivers and parking lots, both of which have serious issues.

Unfortunately, “06880” cannot cover everything.

One of the toughest parts of my job is saying no.

I say no to people — wonderful people — who want me to publicize their Girl Scout cookie sale. Their upcoming book signing/book reading/estate sale.

I say no to people who want help finding a missing dog, missing ring, missing classmate.

I say no to publicity about reunions, fundraisers, GoFundMe campaigns and political fundraisers.

I say no a lot more than I say yes. I hate doing it, and I hate that some people hate me for it.

But every problem* has a solution. Here’s mine:


That’s the newest addition to the “06880” community. It’s a community bulletin board.


Designed by Dylan Diamond — the very talented Staples High School rising senior whose MyHAC grade/class assignment/transcript app has been downloaded tens of thousands of times, across the country — “06880+” is the new go-to spot for posting all the stuff I say “no” to.

And adding your event to the handy calendar on the page too.

“06880+” — pronounced “06880 Plus” — is accessible here. And from the home page of “06880” (there’s a link at the top, and on the side). You can bookmark it as a Favorite too.

I hope you’ll use it often: As a page to publicize your upcoming event, post notices and seek help. (You can post images too — a logo for your organization maybe, or something you’re trying to sell.)

I hope too that “06880+” evolves. It may become a forum where folks seek advice. Questions are welcome: “Does anyone have a stroller I can borrow for when my granddaughter visits?” “What’s the best nail salon?” “What was the name of that place before it was 323 and Bogey’s?”

Like “06880,” I hope that “06880+” is a place where everyone feels welcome. Where all viewpoints are welcome.

And where I don’t have to say “no” to a story about your cat.

*Except those that come before the US Congress

Just Another Spectacular Sunday

Sure, it was hot today.

It’s summer. What do you expect?

(Well, we did not expect a “heat dome,” probably because we’ve never heard of it before. It’s probably an invention of the Weather Channel, just like winter storms with names like Juno and Xerxes.)

Here’s what Compo Beach looked like at various times today.

Enjoy — and bookmark this page, so you can enjoy it again in January. And February. And March…

Sunrise at the beach. (Photo/Dayle Brownstein)

Sunrise at the beach. (Photo/Dayle Brownstein)

It wasn't too hot for this egret. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

It wasn’t too hot for this egret… (Photo/Amy Schneider)

...ditto for these guys. (Photo/Dan Woog)

…or for these guys. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The marina was active today -- but also quite serene. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The marina was active today — but also very serene. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Life is good, as the sun sets. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Life is good, as the sun sets. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Love To Lee

Like many Westporters, Lynn U. Miller is a huge Lee Papageorge fan.

Yesterday — as the popular Oscar’s owner battles lung cancer — the noted Westport photographer stopped by his Main Street deli.

“Lee fills every room with his goodwill, kindness, generosity, wonderful smile, and genuine interest in and concern for everyone,” Lynn says.

She’s learned a lot from him. She wanted to show Lee and his family how she — and many others — felt about him.

She gathered 7 of Lee’s staff — Harry, Joyce, Cris, Javier, Joachim, Devan and Wally (Imis was off) — for a heartfelt, loving shot.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

50 years of Lee’s customers share the sentiment.