Unsung Hero #265

Before Thanksgiving gets too far away, here’s a shout-out to Lucia Palmieri.

The native Westporter cooks meals every year for the holiday — and then gives them away.

This year, it was 10 whole turkeys. (She does 4 at a time, in her ovens.) Then she makes bone broth.

Lucia Palmierii reflects on her Thanksgiving turkeys. She cooks 4 at a time.

This month, she organized a “Santa Run.” A fire truck (and Santa) will come to her house. She’ll supply a fire and hot chocolate; she’ll lead some carols.

In return, guests bring a wrapped gift — and donate $25 to the Fire Department.

Lucia does it all despite a demanding international concert touring schedule. She’s a very talented opera singer. She’s sung at Carnegie Hall, at the US Open, and on ESPN, Bravo, ABC and NBC.

She specializes in Italian and Latin songs — and Italian cooking. (Liza Minnelli, Jon Bon Jovi, Kenneth Cole and the late Marvin Hamlisch have raved about her food.)

Lucia Palmieri, on stage.

Lucia always thinks of others. She does her good deeds quietly, and spectacularly. Thanks, and congratulations: You’re this week’s well-deserved Unsung Hero. (Hat tip: Kathy  Calise)

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email 06880blog@gmail.com, with details.)

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Roundup: Cross Highway Crash, Used Sports Equipment, Terry Brannigan …

Another accident at the crash-prone Cross Highway/Bayberry Lane intersection sent one person to the hospital just before noon on Monday.

The collision — which closed Bayberry for a while — began when a driver headed toward Fairfield on Cross Highway ran the stop sign. The vehicle slammed into a car headed south on Bayberry. That automobile then hit the front of a car stopped at the northbound Bayberry stop sign.

The motorist who went through the stop sign was treated by EMS and transported to Norwalk Hospital for minor injuries.

The 3-car accident at the intersection of Cross Highway and Bayberry Lane. (Photo/Westport Fire Department)

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Back in 2020, the Hackett family wanted to do something meaningful to give back to those in need.

All avid athletes, they chose a project that connects with them, and their Westport community. (It also helps clear out clutter.)

Working with Leveling the Playing Field — a non-profit organization helps underprivileged youngsters who need sports equipment — they’ll collect new and gently used sports and playground equipment.

They’ll be at the Granola Bar this Saturday and Sunday (December 10 and 11), from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Hackett family, with just a few of their many donations.

You must have stuff lying around: cleats, field hockey sticks, lacrosse equipment, bats, ice hockey skates, footballs, softball gloves, soccer shin guards, etc. Click here for a full list of items — you’ll be amazed at what you forgot you have.

So clean out your garages, sheds and basements. It’s time to level the playing field for everyone!

For more information about this amazing organization, click below:

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One of the most important holiday collections is going on right now.

The Westport Domestic Violence Task Force is collecting gift cards for residents of 2 Domestic Violence Crisis Center safe houses.

Gift cards allow survivors the dignity to purchase what they most need or want for their families. Suggested retailers include Stop & Shop, ShopRite, Amazon, Target and Walmart.

Gift cards can be left with the dispatch center in the lobby of the Westport Police Department (50 Jesup Road), between now and December 13.

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Staples High School Class of 2020 graduate Terry Brannigan has many talents.

He’s double majoring in physics and music at Wesleyan University. He’s minoring in IDEAS (Integrated Design, Engineering and Applied Science). He’s a varsity wrestler.

And now — as wrestling season is just ramping up — he’s released a new song.

“Sunshine Serenade” is a blend of musical styles, from metal to R&B. Terry has been working on it — evolving and growing — the song for years.

“It finally bloomed into this rollercoaster that it is now,” he says.

Click here to stream “Sunshine Serenade,” on your favorite platform.

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Amy Schneider snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo behind the Levitt Pavilion.

“What is it?” she wonders.

All I know is: It died long ago.

If you’re more of a naturalist than Amy or I, please click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … Kristie Alley — Rebecca on “Cheers,” among many other acting credits — died Monday. She was 71, and had suffered from cancer.

She had quite a full career (click here for her obituary). And when she died, everyone knew her name.

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Staples Student Directors Star At Young Filmmakers’ Forum

Staples High School pulses with exciting, challenging classes.

But there are many chances to learn outside the classroom too.

Staples Independent Learning Experience is one path. Students spend a semester or full year working independently or collaboratively, on a project they’re passionate about.

They’re supported by an Independent Learning Experiences teacher, and a faculty mentor.

Last school year, 6 students directed and produced films. On December 20 (6:30 p.m.), the Westport Library will host their international premieres. Afterward, media studies teacher/advisor Lauren Bullock will moderate a talkback, with the filmmakers.

Staples students have access to sophisticated video equipment and editing software.

The films at the Westport Young Filmmakers’ Forum include:

Chucknea’s Biopic (Filmmaker: Jacob Friedman)
An ex-criminal-turned-interdimensional defense officer investigates a lead on a former crime partner, only to discover a more sinister plot for revenge that implicates the security of all dimensions.

Plus One Filmmakers: Leah Chapman, Tate Mullineaux)
Co-dependency and instability challenge 2 teens, as they try to deal with everyday life.

Sincerely, Nadia FilmmakerElen Macaluso)
Struggling with mental health issues, a high school girl reflects on her life.

Edges of Love (Filmmaker: Ben Seideman)
A couple preys on unsuspecting victims in a twisted game of betrayal, manipulation and psychosis.

Crucible (Filmmaker: Jack Rein)
A timid youngster suffering from domestic violence is transformed into a confident vigilante, as his family collapses onto him.

If you’re thinking of amateur attempts made with cheap equipment held by shaky hands — think again.

This is 2022. These high school kids have been taught well.

They’ve learned a lot on their own, too.

See their last high school films on the Westport Library’s big screen.

You will probably see their work in years to come.

On a much larger one.

(“06880” covers all the arts, and all the ages. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Pic Of The Day #2059

Assumption Church sunrise (Photo/Karen Como)

Roundup: Hamlet At Saugatuck, World Karting Champ, Italian Culinary Tour …

The Planning & Zoning Commission continued its discussion of the Hamlet at Saugatuck proposal last night.

P&Z members and proponents of the plan — which includes hotel, retail, residential and waterfront space near the train station — spoke about height, floor area ratios and requirements for public open space.

Votes on text and map amendments — necessary for the project to move forward — may be taken at the next P&Z meeting (Monday, December 12).

Part of the proposed Hamlet at Saugatuck marina.

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Speaking of real estate: November’s numbers are in.

Here are the figures for single-family homes, with comparisons in parentheses to November 2021:

  • Total sales: 23 (down 30.3%)
  • Median sales price: $1.595 million (up 1.6%)
  • Inventory: 118 (down 7.8%)
  • Days on the market: 57 (down 9.5%).

83% of homes sold within 90 days of listing.

Only 1 condo sold in Westport last month. The price was $495,000. However, the inventory of condos is 37. (Hat tip: Meredith Cohen at William Raveis)

The most expensive home on the market in Westport right now is on Charcoal Hill Road. The 6-bedroom, 8 1/2-bath house can be yours for $12.5 million.

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The last time we checked in with Vivek Kanthan, he had qualified to represent the US in the 2022 ROK Superfinal World Karting Championship in Italy.

He did win. But now the 13-year-old Westporter is a world champion.

Vivek Kanthan: world karting champion.

The venue was South Garda Karting Track in Lonato, Italy. Ninety racers from 25 countries qualified through their own national competitions.

The event is raced over 4 days. Competitors are eliminated, until only 36 drivers remain for the Superfinal world title.

Vivek won all 4 elimination heats, with a perfect score. He was the first American ever to do so.

In a very tactical, skillful and tense Superfinal, he executed a switchback passing maneuver on the last lap, to win by 0.077 seconds. Racers from Australia and Romania were 2nd and 34d, respectively.

Next year, Vivek moves up a race category. He will continue to compete in Europe against the world’s best kart racers. To follow his Instagram, click here.

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The sun was out yesterday. The high was almost 50.

So these 5 guys headed to Old Mill for a swim.

(Photo/Denise Pearl)

And why not? It’s the off-season. No beach stickers required.

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Westport Book Shop’s December artist exhibitor is Westporter Jarvis Wilcox. Seven oil paintings featuring nature, landscapes and still life are on display in the Jesup Green used book store. A reception is set for December 10 (5 to 7 p.m.).

Wilcox painted in upstate New York for a decade, then in the Hamptons for 25 years. He now lives here, and is a member of the Artists Collective of Westport, and Silvermine Guild.

All artwork on display is available for purchase. To see more of his work, click here.

Jarvis Wilcox

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Steve Davis returns to VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 on Thursday (December 8), for Jazz at the Post. He brings some great collaborators too.

Davis — one of the most widely recorded trombonists today — will feature selections from his latest CD, “Correlations,” and his Grammy Award-winning original compositions.

He’ll be joined by saxophonist/”Jazz Rabbi” Greg Wall, pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Jason Clotter and drummer Jason Tiemann.

Shows are 7:30 and 8:45 p.m. There is a $15 cover. Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Steve Davis

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Take a culinary tour of Italy — without leaving Westport.

Chef Robert L. Gorman leads the first in a series of Wakeman Town Farm dinners on January 6 (6:30 to 9:30 p.m.).

In Tim’s Kitchen, guests will experience many flavors of Italy. Chef Robert starts with imported salami and cheeses; moves on to tagliatelle Bolognese and a variation on bistecca Fiorentina with gremolata and harvest-roasted vegetables, ending with classic tiramisu. He’ll discuss the background of each course, too.

Click here for tickets ($150 each) and more information.

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Humans are not the only ones who can enjoy a “Westport … Naturally” sunset!

(Photo/Sunil Hirani)

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And finally … today is the 53rd anniversary of Altamont.

On this day in 1969, a free Rolling Stones concert turned violent. 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by Hells Angels security guards. There were 3 other deaths; scores of injuries; many stolen vehicles, and lots of property damage.

Less than 4 months after Woodstock, Rolling Stone magazine called it “rock and roll’s all-time worst day.”

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Lynn Miller’s Main Street

On Saturday evening, Lynn Untermeyer Miller joined hundreds of other Westporters for our 2nd annual Holiday Stroll.

But while they strolled leisurely between the dozens of stores and restaurants with special offerings — plus Santa, face painters and carolers — Lynn was hard at work.

The talented “06880” photographer has a special fondness for downtown. A Westport native (and 1971 Staples High School graduate), she remembers the days of mom-and-pop shops, and the special energy everyone felt this time of year.

It’s still there. There are many special places to feel it, all around Main Street.

Lynn captured much of the magic Saturday night. Here is some of what she saw:

Lynn was intrigued by windows … 

… and what was beyond them …

… and of course, the shoppers …

but always, it all comes down to:

(All photos/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Pic Of The Day #2058

Saugatuck River, west bank (Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

“Westport … What’s Happening”: Jen Tooker On Traffic, Downtown Plan And Human Services

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker returns, for another Y’s Men of Westport and Weston podcast.

This week she answers questions sent in by residents about traffic impacting the downtown plan, and whether it will include a study.

She also discusses the very important role the Department of Human Services plays in town, offering financial and support services to families in need.

It’s especially important during the holidays, when economic and other pressures are strong. Tooker provides important information about DHS programs, and how to access them.

Click below to listen:

Roundup: Ralphola Taylor Gifts, PAL Toy Drive, Mystery Buoys …

The Ralphola Taylor Center is a Bridgeport community organization serving low- income children.

They earn points for good behavior during after-school activities, and doing their homework. At the Holiday Store each year, the youngsters redeem their points to buy holidays presents for their families.

It’s a fantastic motivator for good behavior. The children feel proud and empowered to provide joy to their loved ones — which in turn reinforces their good behavior.

There are 2 Westport stores where shoppers can buy items that Ralphola Taylor Center children then “purchase” for their families: Savvy + Grace (146 Main Street) and Awesome Toys (Compo Shopping Center).

You can also order from the stores online. Click here for Savvy + Grace; click here for Awesome Toys.

Savvy + Grace — and Awesome Toys — both help kids and families. Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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Speaking of giving: Barbara Tirola was among the many Westporters who dropped off toys this weekend, at the Westport Police Department and Police Athletic League drive for underprivileged children in Fairfield County.

Barbara Tirola and friends.

It’s on next weekend too. Officers will accept new, unopened and unwrapped toys — plus cash donations — in the ASF Sports & Outdoors parking lot (1560 Post Road East) Saturday and Sunday, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Toy collection boxes are also available all week at:

  • Westport Police Department, 50 Jesup Road
  • ASF Sports & Outdoors, 1560 Post Road East
  • PAL ice rink, Longshore
  • Awesome Toys & Gifts, 429 Post Road East
  • The Toy Post, 180 Post Road East.

Questions? Contact Officer Craig Bergamo: 203-341-6000; cbergamo@Westportct.gov.

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MoCA’s Film Salon series continues this weekend.

“Jay Myself” (Saturday, December 10) is an intimate, behind-the-scenes documentary on the fascinating life of photographer and artist Jay Maisel, directed by noted Westport photographer Stephen Wilkes.

The film documents the sale of Maisel’s 35,000-square foot, 100-year-old landmark building in Manhattan (“The Bank”), showing a man grappling with time, life, change and the end of a New York era. The screening will be followed by a conversation with Wilkes.

“The Art of Making It” (Sunday, December 11) examines the lives of 17 compelling young artists navigating emerging careers in the contemporary art world. Who gets seen? Who gets left behind? The screening will be followed by a conversation with the producer, director and featured film artist.

Each event runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Tickets include cocktails and light bites. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

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Peter Swift spotted these “mystery buoys,” off Compo Beach:

(Photo/Peter J. Swift)

They’re mysterious, he says, because

  • He has not seen them in that location before.
  • Buoys are seldom black. Fishing buoys are usually predominantly white.
  • They are not navigation buoys.

I’m sunk. But if any “06880” reader has an idea, click “Comments” below. 

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Nature’s camouflage was no match for Peter J. Swift’s eye, as today’s “Westport … Naturally” image shows:

(Photo/Peter J. Swift)

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And finally … on this day in 1848,President James K. Polk told Congress that large amounts of gold had been discovered in California. The Gold Rush was on!

(“06880” is not looking for pots of gold. However, contributions of any amount are always welcome. Please click here to help. Thank you!)

Give The Gift Of Giving

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

And to give.

This year — which despite economic headwinds, was a good one for many Westporters — as we buy presents for loved ones, friends, and people whose good graces we need to keep, we should also think about helping others.

Give what you can.

(Of course, helping them can also ease our own tax burdens a few months from now.)

But who to give to?

Far be it for “06880” to say. So here is a list — off the top of my head — of some worthy local organizations. Each one has a clickable link 🙂

I know I’ve missed some. Rather than bite my head off (very un-Christmas-y), please mention them in the “Comments” section. I’ll add them to this list.

And please: Keep your suggestions local (southern Fairfield County). There are way too many very worthy national and international groups to include. Thank you!

Animals

Christine’s Critters: Rehabilitation of big birds
Connecticut Humane Society
: Westport branch
Save Our Strays: Animal rescue
PAWS: No-kill animal shelter
Rising Starr Horse Rescue: Gives at-risk horses a second chance at life
TAILS: Spaying and neutering
Westport Animal Shelter Advocates: Care, shelter and adoption of homeless dogs
Wildlife in Crisis: Preservation and emergency help

Arts and history

Artists Collective of Westport: Creativity, education, shows, forums and more
Beechwood Arts and Innovation: Exhibits, salons, talks, food — wow!
Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County: Supporting cultural organizations, artists and creative businesses
Levitt Pavilion: More than 50 nights of free entertainment
MoCA Westport
: Exhibitions, concerts, education and more
Music Theatre of Connecticut: Musical theater education for youngsters ages 4 through high school
Remarkable Theater:
Providing entertainment and employment for people with disabilities
Westport Country Playhouse: 92-year-old cultural institution
Westport Museum for History & Culture: Exhibits and education
Westport Public Art Collections: Bringing art to schools and public spaces

Community aid

Al’s Angels: Help for children and families battling diseases and hardships
Bridgeport Rescue Mission: Fighting poverty, offering help
Center for Family Justice: Provides services to fight domestic, child and sexual abuse
Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants: Service and advocacy for immigrants, refugees and survivors of human trafficking and torture
Integrated Immigrant & Refugee Services: Resettlement agency
Lifebridge Community Services: Bridgeport youth development behavioral health and family resources organization
Norwalk Hour
: Aid to families in need
United Way of Coastal Fairfield County:
Access to food, shelter, transportation and childcare
VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399: Helping veterans, servicemembers and their families
Westport Department of Human Services “We Care”
:
Many options, including financial help with school supplies and heating costs
Westport PAL: They do it all: college scholarships, youth sports programs, fireworks, ice rink, etc., etc., etc.
Westport Weston Family YMCA: Help in many ways

Community-building

06880: This blog — now a non-profit — sponsors community-wide events. Projects include the Holiday Stroll, an educational seminar at the library, and a soon-to-be announced Westport/Marigny/Ukraine school project. “06880” also publishes this daily blog, to help create community.

Disabilities

Catch a Lift: Westport supports veterans through fitness programs
Circle of Friends: Teens work with children with disabilities
CLASP
: Group homes and opportunities
Club 203: Provides fun, engaging activities for adults with disabilities
MyTEAM Triumph:  Road race support for children, adults and veterans
STAR Lighting the Way: Support for all ages
Sweet P Bakery: Provides jobs for adults with learning disabilities; supplies The Porch at Christie’s with delicious baked goods

Education and youth

A Better Chance of Westport: Education and support for outstanding minority boys
Achievement First: Schools provide Bridgeport families of color with a high- quality education at no cost
Adam J. Lewis Academy: High-quality experience for Bridgeport youngsters
Carver Foundation: K-12 pre- and after-school programs in Norwalk
Child Advocates of SW Connecticut: Providing advocates for abused children
Child & Family Guidance Center: Counseling and support for youth and families
Kids in Crisis: 24-hour support, including emergency housing and crisis counseling
Kidz Give Back: Children helping children
Neighborhood Studios: Arts education for Bridgeport youngsters
Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities: Helping fulfill potential; support for parents too
Staples Tuition Grants: Need-based scholarships for Staples High School students and alumni
The Susan Fund: Scholarships for young people affected by cancer

Environment

Aspetuck Land Trust: Preserving open space; maintaining 45 preserves
Connecticut Audubon Society: Protecting birds, other wildlife, and their habitats through conservation, education and advocacy
Earthplace:
Education, wildlife exhibits, and a 62-acre sanctuary
Friends of Sherwood Island: Preserving, maintaining and enhancing our state park
Future Frogmen: Teaching students to protect the oceans
Norwalk River Valley Trail: Maintaining 30 miles of open space 
Save the Sound
: Protecting Long Island Sound
Sustainable Westport: Helping our town become Net Zero by 2050
Wakeman Town Farm: Sustainability center, with plenty of programs
Westport Farmers’ Market: Food, education, programs and more

Food and shelter

Filling in the Blanks: Providing weekend meals for children in need
Food Rescue:
Helping volunteers pick up and deliver excess food
Homes with Hope: Supportive housing, food pantry, food distribution and more
Open Doors Shelter: Aiding Norwalkers in need
Person-to-Person: Food, rent help, clothing and more

Grant-giving and foundations

100 Women Who  Care of Fairfield County: Raising funds to give them away!
Fairfield County Foundation: Philanthropy to strengthen communities
Near and Far Aid:
Fighting poverty in Fairfield County
Newman’s Own
: Okay, they’re global — but they’re headquartered in Westport!
Westport Rotary: Noontime chapter meeting of Rotary International
Westport Sunrise Rotary: 7:30 a.m. chapter meeting of Rotary International
Westport Woman’s Club: Raising funds for charitable, educational, cultural and public health services
Westport Young Woman’s League: Building community through volunteerism and social activities

Health and Safety

Breast Cancer Emergency Aid Foundation: Funds for non-medical expenses
Domestic Violence Crisis Center:
Help for victims and families
Fairfield County House: End-of -life facility, providing hospice and palliative care in a home-like setting 
Mission
: Helping survivors create lives after cancer
Pink Aid: Financial aid and services to woman and families facing breast cancer
Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service
: Providing staffing, supplies and apparatus to keep the town safe

LGBTQ+

Triangle Community Center: Providing programs and resources for the LGBTQ+ community
Westport Pride: Our town’s own LGBTQ+ organization — sponsors of the June festival, and much more


Literacy

Mercy Learning Center: Life skills training for low-income women
Read to Grow: Promoting children’s literacy from birth, supporting parents as babies’ first teachers
Westport Book Sales: Providing employment for people with disabilities — and offering books, while providing funds for the Westport Library
Westport Library: They do it all!

Mental health and addiction 

Laurel House: Mental health and recovery resources
Positive Directions: Treatment and prevention for addictive behaviors

Seniors

Jewish Senior Services: Skilled nursing and other care
Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities: Support for the Senior Center (below)
Westport Center for Senior Activities
: Senior Center provides programs, meals and more

Women and girls

AWARE: “Assisting Women through Action, Resources and Education”
Dress for Success Mid-Fairfield County: Empowering women by providing professional clothes and other support
LiveGirl: Leadership development and mentoring for females, grades 5 through college
Malta House: Shelter and programs for young pregnant women and their babies