Pic Of The Day #2241

Avid Burying Hill Beach-goer Wendy Levy says: “It’s the little things — like this great new water fountain!” (Photo/Wendy Levy)

Roundup: Zadie Smith, Jim Naughton, Andrew Maskoff …

The Westport Library has a new award: the Westport Prize for Literature.

The first honoree — author Zadie Smith — will be feted in person November 12.

The new annual prize is for an original work of fiction that explores issues in contemporary society. Smith was recognized this year for “The Fraud.” It’s “a kaleidoscopic work of historical fiction set against the legal trial that divided Victorian England, about who gets to tell their story — and who gets to be believed.”

The prize will be administered by a committee of Westport resident volunteers. An independent jury will choose the winner.

Steering committee chair Candice Savin calls Smith “an icon in letters, and an inspiration to writers — and a delight for readers — everywhere.”

She wrote the novels “White Teeth,” “The Autograph Man,” “On Beauty,” “NW” and “Swing Time,” and the novella “The Embassy of Cambodia.” She is a 3-time nominee for the Booker Prize, and last year was honored with the PEN America Literary Service Award.

Zadie Smith


This is the last week for the nearly month-long run of “On Golden Pond,” at the Ivorytown Playhouse in Essex.

Which means the end of the daily commute for 3 local residents. Two-time Tony Award winner James Naughton, and Fairfield’s Mia Dillon, co-star in the show about an older couple, and others, at a lakeside cottage.

Westporter Stacie Lewis plays Naughton and Dillon’s daughter.

James Naughton, with Mia Dillon and Stacie Lewis, at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

Audiences have loved the production. Click here for more information.


Speaking of entertainment:

Staples High School sophomore Andrew Maskoff recently reached the National Association of Teachers of Singing semifinals.

Andrew is a familiar face. He assistant music directed Staples Players’ “Twelfth Night,” and played in the pit for many shows. He sings with Orphenians, and studies privately with Wendy Morgan-Hunter.

Besides singing, Andrew is a superb pianist. He studies with Tatiana Pikayzen, and won won the Schubert Club Award for Romantic and Modern Composers.  He also plays multiple instruments, is in Staples’ Jazz Workshop, and also composes music.

He reached the semifinals after state competition, and the national quarterfinals, with hundreds of other singers. Click below for one of the tracks he submitted.

Congratulations, Andrew!


What’s next in Weston?

Gun legislation.

Well, it’s actually statewide. But in this week’s “What’s Next in Weston” podcast, State Senator Ceci Maher discusses important new — and strengthened — gun control legislation with 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor.

This legislation was passed at 4 a.m. Saturday morning. Dick Kalt spoke with Senator Maher 9 hours later, for the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston episode.

Click below to listen:


Speaking of important issues:

Last week at the Westport Library, Roosevelt Institute director of climate policy Rhiana Gunn-Wright explored the interconnections between environmental and racial justice. She also spoke about how to cultivate regional responses to the climate crisis, noting that environmental impacts cross town lines.

Click below to see:


A few real estate facts from May:

26 units were sold. That’s down 40% from May of 2022.

The median sales price of $2.6 million was up 27% from last year. The median sales price per square foot of $568 was also up, by 15%. (Hat tip: Meredith Cohen of William Raveis) 

This 8-bedroom, 12-bathroom, 13,128-square foot home on 7.27 acres on Hedley Farms Road in Greens Farms is on the market for $11,995,000. 


An early morning fire drew a quick response, on Old Hill Road.

Three occupants of a barn, including an apartment, were alert to the blaze by the property owner, and evacuated.

Firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to other sections of the U-shaped structure.

Mutual aid from Fairfield and Norwalk fire departments were on the scene and at Westport fire headquarters. Westport Police and Westport also
provided assistance.

The 3 displaced occupants received help from Westport Human Services and the American Red Cross.

Three firefighters received minor injuries.

Quick work prevented the blaze from spreading to other parts of the barn. (Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)


Guitarists Kenny Wessel and Rale Micic headline this Thursday’s Jazz at the Post.

Wessel — known for his “adventurous voice, unrelenting swing and sensitive accompaniment skills,” is a Westport favorite. He and Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall — who will join in on sax — have played together for 30 years.

Serbian guitarist and composer Micic “skillfully fuses culture with timeless jazz.”

Joining those 3 are bassist Steve LaSpina and drummer Eric Halvorson.

Shows are 7:30 and 8:45 p.m. at VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399, on June 8. Dinner service starts at 7 p.m. There is a $15 cover. Reservations are strongly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Kenny Wessel and Rale Micic.


We’re always looking for new creatures to feature on “Westport … Naturally.”

We’ve got one today. Longtime Westporter — and ophthalmologist — Mark Steckel zeroed in on his specialty. He writes:

“This snake was hiding in the vinca that surrounds my pinky-winky hydrangea, though I never saw him wink. But of course, he can’t: Snakes have no eyelids.”

(Photo/Mark Steckel)


And finally … in honor of Mark Steckel’s image (above):

(Don’t be a snake! Please contribute to your hyper-local blog! Just click here — and thank you!)

Tooker, Koskinas Reflect On Historic Ukraine Trip

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas will long remember many of the sights, sounds and smells of their recent trip to Westport’s sister city: Lyman, Ukraine.

Bombed-out buildings, charred tanks, artillery fire, an app alerting them to incoming missiles — those are seared in the memories of the first Americans to travel to the Donetsk Oblast since the Russian invasion more than a year ago.

But even more meaningful are their encounters with the Ukrainian people: the governor and head of the national police force, who traveled for hours to meet them. The mayor and police chief, finally in person after countless Zoom calls.

Most of all, the residents of Lyman: the people who put on the best clothes they could find, to greet the Westporters. The few children in the lone classroom still open.

And the man who skirted land mines to hike to a lake, bring back three fish, smoke them, and proudly present them as a traditional gesture of thanks.

Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov presents 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker with a smoked fish: a Ukrainian gesture of friendship.

Tooker and Koskinas are still processing all that they saw and did, on their 4-day journey from the Polish border to far east of Kyiv. They took a circuitous route on pock-marked roads and over pontoon bridges, doubling back around destroyed bridges and other obstacles.

In armored vehicles and with a police escort, they sped through every traffic light and stop sign. “It’s harder to hit a moving target,” Koskinas explains.

Yet the tight security was comforting. Tooker always felt safe, under the watchful eyes of the police and military.

US and Connecticut flags, at the Donetsk Oblast border. From left: Brian Mayer of Ukraine Aid International; Police Chief Foti Koskinas; 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker; Easton 1st Selectman David Bindelglass; a police officer, and Liz Olegov of UAI.

Still, it was not until they crossed — on foot — into Poland for the return leg that they felt out of complete danger.

The trip — privately financed, with no town funds — was a chance for the 2 officials to see how the $252,000 raised by residents over the holidays for our sister city had been spent.

Police chief Foti Koskinas, with 1 of 2 trash trucks bought by Ukraine Aid International, with funds donated by Westporers. When all such vehicles were destroyed by Russians, there was no way too remove tons of debris. 

Ukraine Aid International — the organization founded by Westporters Brian and Marshall Mayer — handled ground arrangements. Tooker and Koskinas got an up close look at their personnel and logistics.

“Their model is unbelievably effective,” the 1st selectwoman reports. “They go where no other group goes. They even deliver goods for other groups.”

“They’ve developed incredible relationships. When they drive in, the military recognizes their vehicles and waves them through roadblocks.”

Westpor donors have funded an array of initiatives: building materials for apartments; water purification systems; home heating devices; police and trash vehicles; communication equipment; bulletproof vests for utility workers; vegetable and fruit seeds, and more.

Tooker and Koskinas saw that all those goods and materials had been delivered efficiently. “That’s not always the case with humanitarian aid,” Tooker notes. “But Ukraine Aid International gets the job done.”

Utility workers repair equipment near the front lines. Westporters’ contributions paid for protective and other equipment.

A second reason for the trip was to cement personal relationships. Since the holidays, Koskinas has spoken almost daily to his counterpart, Police Chief Igor Ugnevenko. Tooker has been in frequent contact with Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov.

Spending time with those officials underlined the importance of Westport’s sister city relationship. “Foti and I are more committed than ever to do everything we can to help,” Tooker says.

They’re spurred by a cascade of images. In the one functioning classroom, in the only school left standing. students of all ages come on a rotating schedule. Despite the challenges, “it’s as warm and welcoming as our classrooms here,” Tooker says.

There is no running water or electricity in the building. But in a makeshift cafeteria, educators proudly set out a lunch of homemade food for their guests.

The school is like the rest of Lyman. As they toured the town, Tooker and Koskinas were allowed to walk in only a few areas — and only on asphalt. Land mines are buried everywhere.

“Picture the most graphic World War II documentary,” Koskinas says. “We saw it. There’s a ‘graveyard’ of Russian military artifacts. You can still smell the burning flesh.”

The perseverance and warmth of the Lyman people was “astonishing,” says Tooker. They found the best clothes they could, ironed them, and greeted the Westporters with smiles and hugs.

A Lyman resident hugs 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, as thanks for Westport’s help rebuilding her apartment.

A ceremony for the signing of the official sister city relationship was held in a remote area. The governor, and the heads of the national police (the equivalent of our FBI) and patrol police traveled for hours to be there. It was important for them to see the Americans who had traveled so far, Tooker says.

“They kept calling us ‘heroes.’ It was embarrassing. We were horrified,” she adds.

The chasm between the US and Ukraine was brought home in sharp relief minutes after their arrival at Newark Airport.

“People were fighting over taxis. I mean, really?” Koskinas says.

They came home a few days before Memorial Day. This year’s holiday “had a whole new meaning for me,” the police chief says. “You know the saying: ‘Freedom is not free.’ That’s so true. They’re giving up all they have to be free.”

“My respect for the armed services was always high. Now it’s higher than ever,” Tooker adds.

The officials are eager to share all that they saw, felt and did. They are filled with respect for the Ukrainian people — and for the help that Ukrainian Aid International delivers.

Discussing clean-up operations, amid the remains of Russian tanks.

“Brian and Marshall Mayer told us that going there would make a difference to Lyman,” Koskinas says. “It did. That’s my biggest takeaway.

“Foti and I made a professional and personal commitment to our counterparts,” Tooker says.

“We will communicate regularly. They face a generation of rebuilding. We will be there for them.”

(The second round of donations for Lyman has begun. Click here, then select “Westport” from the “Where it is needed most” dropdown menu. And mark your calendar for July 9: A town-wide “Lyman-AID”  celebration with food, music and more. It’s free — but there are also many ways to contribute to help our sister city. Click here for details.)

Connecticut and Ukrainian officials, after a meeting in Sviatohirsk .


Pic Of The Day #2240

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

Westport Shows Its Pride

Rainbows were everywhere yesterday.

On flags, pins, buttons. flyers, hats — wherever rainbows could be, they were there.

Westport Representative Town meeting member Harris Falk (left) and State Representative Jonathan Steinberg. 

Westport’s 3rd annual Pride celebration drew over 250 people to Jesup Green. 

Older folks, teenagers, toddlers; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, non-binary — and plenty of allies — gathered to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.


(Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

There were speeches and proclamation; music and balloons and nail-painting; information booths on everything from healthcare to starting a family.

Most of all, there was fun in the (wind and) sun. Congratulations to Westport Pride, for bringing Westport together. 

(Photo/Bethany Eppner)

Happy Pride!

St. Luke’s School student (and Westport resident) Charlie Lukens gave a powerful speech about his coming out process. The lacrosse player gave shout-outs to his very supportive family and friends … 

… as they listened intently and proudly.

Rev. Alison Patton of Saugatuck Congregational Church welcomed the crowd.

Nails were painted …

… 11-year-old Owen Hill turned balloons into hearts …

… Girl Scouts hoist the Pride flag … (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

… and students came out in force.

Dr. Nikki Gorman, co-sponsor of the rainbow crosswalk at nearby Jesup Road, and friend. (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

Pride onesie (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

Jonathan Alloy officiated at a wedding! (Contributed photo)

The day was filled with music. (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

(Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)


(Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

Selectwomen Andrea Moore and Candice Savin offer greetings. (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

State Representative Dominique Johnson offered official greetings.

Jamie Matchotka spoke about being a trans man in Westport.

Love is love. (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

Westport Pride founder and MC Brian McGunagle shared the stage with his son. (All photos/Dan Woog unless otherwise noted.)

Roundup: Wertkin Murder, Scholar-Athletes, Affordable Housing, …

A murder that has haunted Westport for over 30 years may finally be solved.

At 11 p.m. on May 24, 1989, officers and firefighters responding to a fire behind the Coffee An’ strip mall found a burned woman’s body.

Shortly after, her husband reported 38-year-old Joan Wertkin missing.

Joan Wertkin

Tomorrow (Tuesday, June 6, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.), News 12 airs a new episode of “Crime Files.” The still-open case has recently generated new tips and leads.

News 12 spoke with family members, and the Westport Police Department. “Crime Files”‘ investigative team has discovered never-released details.

Mark Holfcener — Wertkin’s only sibling — is grateful for tomorrow’s show.

“I want anything that will bring justice,” he tells “06880.”

“I don’t know what it takes to put someone in jail, but I’m pleased attention is still being paid to it. There are a lot of parts to this puzzle. My hope is that all the pieces will come together, and we can see the complete picture.”

He too has spoken with News 12.

In addition to airing tomorrow on Optimum Channel 12 at 7 and 9 p.m., the “Crime Files” show will be streamed on Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV and Pluto TV.


Three dozen Staples High School scholar-athletes were honored last night, at a unique dinner.

The coach of each varsity sport (there are 36) nominates one candidate, for his or her combined academic and athletic achievements. Each is given one question to answer on the spot, involving their interests, activities and passions.

Questions last night ranged from astrophysics (“what’s the biggest problem in the universe you’d like to solve?”) to interning in the selectwoman’s office (“what did you learn about government that surprised you?” to rugby (“it’s been called a game for hooligans, played by gentlemen — which are you?”).

But the highlight of the night came from boys ski team member Jet Tober. A freestyle rapper who took Advanced Placement Mandarin, he was asked to rap — in Mandarin. He brought down the house.

Congratulations to all the scholar-athletes: Fall sports: Emma Porzio (fall cheerleading), Matthew Fleming (boys cross country), Eva  Simonte (girls cross country), Francine Stevens (field hockey), James Hillhouse (football), Finn Wolter (boys golf), Alex Laskin (boys soccer), Samantha Dewitt (girls soccer), Kate Whitaker (girls swimming), Kate Valante (girls volleyball), Benjamin Madoff (boys water polo).

Winter sports: Gavin Rothenberg (boys basketball), girls basketball (Scarlett Siegel), Jenny Bradshaw (cheerleading), Ava DeDomenico (gymnastics), Connor Moynihan (boys ice hockey), Chloe Hackett (girls ice hockey), Jonas Varnas (boys indoor track), Gabriella Gerig (girls indoor track), Jet Tober (boys skiing), Emma Nahon (girls skiing), Ryan Salik (boys squash), Rebecca Schussheim (girls squash), Joshua Tanksley (boys swimming), Jackson Oliver (wrestling).

Spring sports; Ethan Cukier (baseball), Keeva Boyle (girls golf), Michael Nealon (boys lacrosse), Cameron Retcho (girls lacrosse), Sam Pirkl (boys rugby), Parker Pretty (girls rugby), Grace Alfaro (softball), Alex Guadarrama (boys tennis), Lucia Wang (girls tennis), William Fitch (boys outdoor track), Isabelle Bland (girls outdoor track), Witt Lindau (sailing), Kareem Abouzeid (boys volleyball), Clara Smith (girls water polo).

After the dinner, scholar-athletes posed with their parents and coaches. Boys basketball honoree Gavin Rothenberg is shown with his coach Dave Goldshore (far left) and parents.


Speaking of Staples, here’s one more shot of Saturday night’s pre-prom festivities.

This is a different take. John Videler’s drone shows both the prom-goers and their proud parents.

(Drone photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)


“Fair share” — a proposal by which the state would assess the need for affordable housing, then mandate that certain towns above a certain poverty level provide such housing — was removed from a bill early Saturday morning.

The legislation that was then passed, by a narrow margin, by the House of Representatives includes a study of affordable housing needs in Connecticut. But it will be used for “informational purposes” and is “aspirational goal-setting,” according to one legislator.

The bill now goes to the state Senate. Click here for a full report, from CT Mirror.


Davide opens — or, to use its word, “arrives” — on Church Lane June 10.

(Photo/Sal Liccione)

Its website says, somewhat ungrammatically:

“Davide, founded by Joseph Davide in 202, pays homage to Italy, his origin and culture for inspiration while weaving it with the thread of the laid back attitude of modern luxury.

“Each collection being presented as ready to wear collections. Davide’s aesthetic tells the story of the classic man evolving from adolescence to adulthood.

“With no background education in fashion design, Joseph steers Davide with the vision of modernity and sophistication evoking a style of quality downtime through its relaxed silhouettes in his crafts.”

This may be Davide’s first retail outlet. No others are listed on the website.


Among the non-art attractions at Westport’s recent Fine Arts Festival: a fun fundraising contest by Staples Tuition Grants.

Entrants guessed the number of jellybeans in a jar. The actual number was 51,196. Eoghan Scully guessed 51,215 — only 19 off.

The very close 2nd and 3rd place guesses came from Crystal Benaroya and Annie Bowens. All receive gift certificates to their favorite Westport restaurants.

The contest helped STG award a record $405,000 in grants this year, to 119 students.

51,196 jellybeans!


Elisabeth Levey captured (by camera) these critters, coming out to play.

Or perhaps they were just posing for our daily “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Elisabeth Levey)


And finally … on this day in 1783, the Montgolfier brothers publicly demonstrated their “montgolfière.” Today it is known as a hot air balloon.

(Soar to new heights with “06880”! Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Westport Country Playhouse: Next Act — Or Final Curtain?

For over 90 years the Westport Country Playhouse has entertained, inspired and awed theatergoers.

From the opening curtain in a converted tannery through the rest of the 20th century, “the Playhouse” became a launch pad for Broadway shows, an important stop for hundreds of actors, and an iconic Westport jewel.

Now, in its 92nd year, the Westport Country Playhouse is limping through a truncated season.

It might not make it to 93.

Classic shot of a classic theater.

I love the Playhouse. I was introduced to live theater there, through children’s shows. I’ve seen countless productions, plus concerts like Arlo Guthrie.

A highlight of my life was performing on its stage – the same one used by Henry Fonda, Paul Robeson, Helen Hayes, Eartha Kitt and James Earl Jones – for a “Moth” taping 3 years ago.

It is painful to write this story.

It would be more painful to lose the Playhouse entirely. But that may very well happen.

And it could happen very, very soon.

The Westport Country Playhouse is on precarious footing. The last 2 shows of its planned 5-play 2023 season have already been canceled. The third is in jeopardy.

In recent years, not enough seats have been filled. (Photo/Robert Benson)

Attendance has plummeted; so has the subscriber base.

As the core audience aged, there was little outreach to younger and newer residents. The Playhouse has virtually no social marketing – the best way to create buzz, and reach today’s theater-goers.

Artistic director Mark Lamos’ selection of plays failed to resonate with patrons. Now he’s departing, leaving no one at the helm.

If the theater goes dark, it will be almost impossible to put the lights back on.

All is not lost, however. A rescue plan has been floated.

As in past crises – most recently the early 2000s, when Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward rode to the rescue – this one has quintessential Westport roots.

Andrew Wilk, in the “Live From Lincoln Center” production truck.

Andrew Wilk is a 5-time Emmy-winning executive producer and director of television programming (and a renowned playwright, director and symphony conductor).

He moved to Westport 17 years ago, attracted in large part by the town’s support for the arts.

Wilk produced PBS’ legendary “Live from Lincoln Center” series for many years; served as chief creative officer for Sony Music Entertainment, and executive vice president for the National Geographic Channel (among many other accomplishments).

He created and developed last year’s 3-part PBS entertainment specials, shot at the Playhouse. (He worked on that project for almost 2 years – pro bono.)

Wilk spent months developing a new business strategy and turnaround plan. Covering everything from programming to union contracts, it outlines a path toward recovery and sustainability for an institution that for years has spent more than ticket sales, donors and grants bring in.

Wilk devised the plan on his own time. He’s willing to oversee it in the coming months – gratis.

So far, the Playhouse board has not accepted his broad, generous offer. Perhaps they think they must “save” the Playhouse, before creating a new artistic model.

Wilk proposes to save the Playhouse by reimagining it. First, a transitional season would begin rebuilding the audience through a robust season of well-known musical titles “In Concert.” They’d be headlined by a small number of Broadway stars, with an orchestra.  Concerts include evenings of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, Jerry Herman, Rodgers & Hammerstein and others.

Those concert productions would be augmented by smaller, fully professional productions of recognizable shows, like “The Fantasticks” and “I Do! I Do!,” as well as classic comedies and dramas.

Back in the day, crowds lined up for comedies, dramas — and shows that were headed to Broadway. (Photo/Wells Studio)

There would be student productions too, with actors from Staples and area high schools and colleges, of shows like “Rent,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Falsettos,” plus “Jesus Christ Superstar” using local community groups, and Broadway stars in a few primary roles (thanks to Wilk’s extensive contacts).

Wilk estimated costs for every show, right down to transportation and rights fees. He’s addressed the thorny question of union contracts, and even figured out rehearsal schedules.

His plan appears to be the only one addressing the theater’s many urgent challenges.

The Westport Country Playhouse has been on the brink of disaster before. They’ve always pulled rabbits out of the hat (and, in the case of Newman and Woodward, conjured up a production that – harkening back to the Playhouse’s mid-20th century heyday – moved on to Broadway).

The world has changed since then. It’s changed even since Newman and Woodward’s “Our Town.”

This is our Westport Country Playhouse. It is our town.

But unless the people in charge of our town’s historic gem act quickly, decisively and creatively, the theater that last week was honored as a Literary Landmark may soon become just one more theatrical memory.

(The Westport Country Playhouse was asked to comment on its future. Board chair Anna Czekaj-Farber said: “Nothing new at the moment. We are getting ready for our New Works reading (Monday, June 5) our next Script in Hand on June 12, and Patti LuPone’s  great evening June 15.”)

Twenty years ago, Paul Newman helped save the Westport Country Playhouse. Can it be saved again?

Pic Of The Day #2239

Strawberry moon over Main Street. (Photo/Jodie Brooke Aujla)

Photo Challenge #440

The official-looking sign says “No Unnecessary Shifting or Braking.”


We’re used to ignoring signs like “30 Minute Parking. Violators Will Be Towed at Their Own Expense.”

And “Speed Limit 25.”

But this must be the most random, least enforceable sign among the 72 squintillion all around town.

Was there once an epidemic of shifting and/or braking? What is “unnecessary”? And who even “shifts” these days?

The sign — last week’s Photo Challenge — can be seen in the Bedford Middle School parking lot. (Click here to see.)

John D. McCarthy, Andrew Colabella, Seth Schachter, Mousumi Ghosh, Jonathan Alloy, Brendan Malin and Carl Addison Swanson all knew the spot.

Presumably not because they were arrested for a violation.

Perennial Photo Challenge winner Andrew Colabella won’t be listed next week. That’s because he’s turning the tables, and submitting instead of answering this week’s puzzler.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Sure, it’s a survey marker. It says so right on it. But where in Westport would you see this?

If you know, click “Comments” below.

Meanwhile, drive safely. No unnecessary shifting or braking!

(Here’s another challenge: Please support “06880.” Just click here. Thank you!)

Roundup: Prom, PBA, Weston Woodstock …

Taylor Swift stepping out of her limo?


It’s parents, snapping photos at a Staples High School prom pre-party.

Meanwhile, on the other side:

And at another party in town:

(Photo/Kimberly Paris)


Speaking of parties: Hundreds of music lovers — and Senator Richard Blumenthal — jammed the Westport Library last night.

The launch party for Verso Studio’s initial album release — the first public library ever to record, produce and release a vinyl record — was a huge success.

Four bands played. Last night, Westport’s was the noisiest — and happiest — library in the world.

The Trefz Forum stage.


Speaking of celebrations: The Westport Weston Family YMCA hosted its first-ever Holi Festival yesterday.

The Hindu tradition celebrates the eternal and divine love of the god Radha and Krishna. It also signifies the triumph of good over evil.

A large crowd — Hindu and many other religions — joined in the joy at the Mahackeno Outdoor Center.

(Photo courtesy of Ifeseyi Gayle)


The Westport Police Benevolent Association has awarded scholarships to 19 (!) students. The WPBA Foundation suffered a great loss when longtime supporter Dennis Poster died last year. His wife Joan Poster remains involved, and helps the program thrive.

There are 3 types of scholarships, all worth $2,000. The Wilbur is awarded to Westport Police officers’ children who have done community service, and have a GPA of at least 3.0.

The Deputy Chief John Anastasia Scholarship is given to Staples High School seniors who will focus on criminal justice, and have done community service.  Caleigh Coughlin received that grant this year.

The Chief Bill Stefan Scholarship goes to a Staples High School senior who will focus on criminal justice, and participated in sports teams and activities. Olivia Stubbs earned that award this year.

PBA Scholarship honorees. Top row (left to right): Zachary Benson, Brandon Benson, Jonathan Wolf, Samuel Wolf, Zoe Koskinas, Madison Hayes. Bottom: Caleigh Coughlin, Jaden Aliberti, Ella Simpson, Gabrielle Hayes, Ann Restieri. Bot pictured: Olivia Biagiotti, April Nowinski, Joseph Sabin, Sara Sabin, Emma Simpson, Brandon Smith, Olivia Stubbs, Meghan Velky


It’s tough to come up with an original fundraising idea.

Unless you’re Lauren and David Sussman.

On June 16, the Westport couple will do a “marathon walk-a-thon” — 26.2 miles — around town. “Steps_4life” will raise funds for United Hatzalah. The Israeli organization of 6,000 volunteer first responders — EMTs, paramedics and doctors — have responded to hundreds of thousands of medical emergencies, in rapid time, regardless of race or religion.

An “ambucycle” – equipped with supplies and equipment like an ambulance — can zip through traffic quicker than most ambulances.

They’ve been training hard. Before each practice walk they map out their route on Instagram (Steps_4life), inviting friends (and stranger) to join them for a bit.

For more information, and to help with the Sussmans’ campaign, click here(Hat tip: Liz Kaner)

David and Lauren Sussman.


Four local teen bands highlight the first “Weston Woodstock.”

Fittingly, it’s a benefit for music.

Weston High School junior and musician Sophie Levy created and designed the event as a fundraiser for KEYS. The organization supports music lessons and performances for under-resourced Bridgeport youth.

The June 24 event runs from 5 to 8 p.m., on the Weston History & Culture Center lawn.

Tickets are $15 adults, $30 per family (purchase at the door). Follow @WestonWoodstock on Instagram to keep up to date.

Sophie realized the importance of music education when a girl at School of Rock quit for financial reasons. Researching ways to help, she found KEYS, a non-profit.

Her goal for the event is $5,000, through tickets and sponsorships. For more information, contact Sophie: sophelevy@gmail.com; 475-470-9666.


Registration is now open for the CT Challenge. The July 29 bike ride — with distances of 10, 25, 40, 62, 100 and virtual — raises funds for the local non-profit Mission. They help 16.9 million cancer survivors in Connecticut and throughout the US rebuild, improve and prolong their lives through exercise, nutrition, mind-body health and community-building support programs.

Click here to register. Click here for more information on the CT Challenge.



On Friday, “06880” noted the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County Arts & Culture Empowerment (ACE) Award, which will be presented to Clea Newman on behalf of her parents, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. The breakfast is June 21, at Norwalk Shore & Country Club.

Another Westporter will receive an ACE Award that day too.

Jenny Nelson has been a theatre and music educator for over 20 years. A former professor at City College of New York’s Graduate Program for Theatre Educators, she has worked with Long Wharf, The Shubert and Yale Rep, among many theaters.

Jenny also built the arts education program for the Westport Country Playhouse.

Jenny Nelson


Nearly every time she walks, Johanna Keyser Rossi spots something unexpected.

Often, it ends up as a “Westport … Naturally” photo.

Here’s her image from the other day, by the Saugatuck River:

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


And finally … Redd Holt, a jazz drummer who played on several catchy, popular  hits, died recently in Chicago. He was 91, and suffered from lung cancer.

His biggest songs came in 1965, with the Ramsey Lewis Trio:

And 3 years later, with Young-Holt Unlimited:

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