Compo Beach’s South Beach (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)
Compo Beach’s South Beach (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)
Richard Wiese has traveled to all 7 continents. He’s tagged jaguars in the Yucatan, achieved the first ascent of an unclimbed Alaskan mountain, discovered 29 new life forms on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and cross-country skied to the North Pole.
Not surprisingly, he’s a 2-time president of the international Explorers Club. And he was host and executive producer of “Born to Explore,” the PBS and ABC-TV series, which was produced right here on Main Street.
The other day, he traveled all the way from his Weston home to the Westport Library, for an “06880” podcast. We explored everything, from where he’s gone, why he goes there, what’s the allure of adventure travel (a good friend was one of the 5 people lost in the Titan submersible tragedy this summer), and the “hidden gems” of our own towns.
Click below for a very adventurous half hour.
Dave Briggs headed to Compo Beach yesterday. He expected to enjoy the first dogs-allowed day of the season.
It was ruined by creatures of a different kind. There were spotted lanternflies everywhere — “all over everybody” — Dave reports.
Leigh Gage adds: “I did my part in eradicating about 100 of this invasive species at Compo. There’s a tree of heaven out on the spit of land past the kayaks, and they’re all over it.
“Perhaps some others can come squash these bugs too. I felt a little funny/ murderous killing so many — but my understanding is it’s my environmental duty.”
Spotted lanternflies on the Compo Beach cannons … (Photo/Dave Briggs)
… and nearby. (Photo/Dana Kuyper)
Bruce McFadden adds:
“Although I know lantern flies are not new to Westport, my wife and I and many others were surprised to find them everywhere on Sunday.
“During our paddle they were all over the water surface and on sea grasses just out of the E.R Strait Marina into Gray’s Creek.
“They were on our picnic table at lunch, and all over our car and tires as we departed for Compo. All sidewalks at Compo were spotted by the less fortunate members of the species.
“The Lanternfly Stomp was clearly big at the beach today, and probably all over town!”
Spotted lanternfly on the water. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)
And another “ugh” report from Compo:
On September 26, a reader got this email from the Parks & Recreation Department:
A reminder…Our policy states that all bathhouse assignees are to clean out their lockers no later than September 30th.
You may use Sunday, October 1st to make sure that your bathhouse has been cleaned out and your lock has been removed. Any locks remaining as of Monday, October 2nd, will be cut off and the contents will be removed and discarded.
Thanking you in advance for your attention in this matter. Have a great day!
The bold items were there in the original message.
Yesterday — October 1 — he went to the beach to remove his lock.
It was already gone.
“They cut off locks and started removing everyone’s things today,” the reader says.
“Seems like a huge mistake. It’s going to cost people lots of money in ruined locks and trashed property.”
Another teed-off beachgoer posted on social media:
Our lock was cut as of 12 p.m. We found most of our stuff in a pile by the bathrooms, but there was a tractor carting piles of stuff away. There was a lot of nice stuff being removed. I believe our email said this would happen tomorrow, not today.
Compo lockers cleaned out, with contents ready for removal. (Photo/Jason Stiber)
Jason Stiber was more blunt. He told “06880”: “I have never understood logic of having no grace period. This year, even worse, they removed stuff one day early to their email.
“We’re talking thousands of dollars lost collectively, and such a waste of good, expensive beach furniture, sand toys, umbrellas, boogie boards and beach wagons.”
But there’s good news from Compo Beach. Jo Shields Sherman reports:
“I imagine you probably got quite a few doggy pictures from yesterday, the first day dogs were allowed back on the beach.
“But here’s a nighttime one. Buggy, my service dog, has battled lymphoma for a little over a year now. Most days she feels like a puppy, and acts like one too.
“She actually started swimming this summer. She loves the beach. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”
(Photo/Jo Shields Sherman)
October 11 is National Coming Out Day.
But the dedication of the rainbow crosswalk is not the only LGBTQ+ event on the calendar.
Westport Pride, the Westport Library and Triangle Community Center are offering a 2-part community education series. The aim is to address an abundance of misinformation about the queer community.
The October 11 event — “LGBTQ+ 101” — covers basic vocabulary concepts and history.
The November 9 session applies information from the first training to real-world examples. Participants will brainstorm ways to be inclusive and affirming, and how to address bias.
Both are from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Registration is required; click here.
“Bad Influencer” — the new immersive fiction podcast whos stars include Deuxmoi, Kristen Doute, Perez Hilton and Christy Carlson Romano debuts tomorrow (October 3).
The 9-episode romantic comedy is told through the eyes of a 20-something wannabe living in New York. She makes a wish and wakes up a famous
influencer, but finds that the glitzy, glamourous world is not always what it seems.
“Bad Influencer” was written by Staples High School Class of 2005 graduate Gabi Conti. She’s the author of “Twenty Guys You Date in Your Twenties.”
It was co-created by fellow Westporter and international best-selling author Jane Green.
To listen on all major streaming platforms, click here.
How much can I afford to pay at Saugatuck Sweets?
The ice cream-and-more shop, with outlets in Westport and Fairfield, is offering free classes on a wide range of financial literacy topics.
It’s a partnership with Merrill Lynch Fairfield and Junior Achievement. Sessions are scheduled for high school and middle school students.
The next one is this Saturday (October 7, noon to 1:30 p.m., 28 Reef Road). Parents are welcome to accompany their kids.
For more information or to RSVP, email email@example.com.
Finance workshop at Saugatuck Sweets in Fairfield.
The bad weather has moved on. But here’s one last “Westport … Naturally” look at Meghan Norris’ back yard the other day.
With a guest.
And finally … in honor of the Compo Beach lockers …
(There’s always lots of Compo news in town — and plenty more. “06880” is your source for whatever is happening. But we need your support. Please click here to contribute. Thank you!)
Being chosen as captain of a Staples High School sports team is a great honor.
Coaches congratulate the young man or woman. Parents beam with pride. Teammates look to their peer with new respect.
And then — just like that — everyone expects the teenager to lead.
For better or worse, sports programs help define a high school’s environment and culture.
Staples athletic director VJ Sarullo wants to make sure that at his school, that’s a positive one.
For that to happen, he says, leaders must know how to lead.
So, starting this year, Sarullo is bringing together dozens of captains and future leaders. He’ll give them the tools to create a positive culture — one, he says, that can spill over into the entire community.
Actually, he won’t “give them” those resources. He’ll help them discover them on their own.
Sarullo became athletic director in March. He organized a similar Leadership Council at his previous school, Jonathan Law High.
But there were only a couple of dozen varsity sports at the Milford school. Staples fields 39 varsity teams. That’s a lot of students thrust into leadership roles.
This summer, Sarullo asked all 39 varsity coaches for the names of captains. For winter and spring teams that did not yet have them, he asked for potential leaders.
He got 98 names.
The AD asked them all:
Answers came quickly. Major themes included:
Two weeks ago, the Leadership Council held its first meeting. It was, Sarullo told attendees, “the only time all year I want to start off by talking to you. From here on, I want you to drive this.”
The first meeting of the Staples High School Leadership Council.
After presenting the survey results, the leaders broke into small groups. Each included a wide range of teams, and both genders.
They brainstormed ideas. Some were broad: a welcoming field day for all athletes. Others were specific: an explanation of the budget process.
All, Sarullo says, will help focus the Leadership Council the rest of the year.
“This is all about being better,” Sarullo says. “This department already has a great culture. But we want to make sure that everyone feels welcome, feels that they’re treated equally, and supports each other. And that affects the entire school.”
The next meeting will feature Dan Switchenko, former baseball coach at Eastern Connecticut State University. He’ll help the teenagers understand the connection between leading by example, and team culture.
The Leadership Council will meet monthly, at 7 p.m. (Chartwells — Staples’ food service — provides food for athletes just coming off a practice or game.)
Student-athletes like Santi Alfageme (#15) are learning to lead, on and off the field. (Photo/Mark Sikorski)
As they learn about leadership, Sarullo is learning from them.
“These kids are honest, and incredible,” he says.
“They all dug in, right from the start. I had to get them to stop their meetings, so they could get out of there by 8:30.”
After all, they still had homework to do. Games to prepare for. Teams to lead.
A captain’s work is never done.
(If it happens at Staples — or any other Westport school — “06880” wants you to know about it. Please click here to support local journalism. Thank you!)
Whenever someone asks about “hidden Westport gems” — and for some reason, they do — my go-to answer is: Sherwood Mill Pond and Compo Cove.
While perhaps not “hidden” — millions of people see the Pond from I-95 and the train — the pedestrian pathway out there sort of is.
You have to park at Old Mill, and walk there. Or ride your bike and then jump off the bridge, as thousands of kids have done for a century.
Along the way, there are 2 tidal gates. They’re the kind of high-tech successors to previous gates. They perform important environmental functions, helping the Mill Pond stay healthy and clean.
Millions of oysters, and countless crabs, harvested from the water attests to their efficiency.
Plenty of readers love that path, and quickly recognized the tidal gates — last week’s Photo Challenge. (Click here to see.)
Congratulations to Brooks Sumberg, Andrew Colabella, Diane Silfen, Molly Alger, Matt Murray, Jalna Jaeger, Beth Berkowitz, Michelle Scher Saunders and Suki Nolte.
Here’s another water-themed Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.
(Here’s another challenge: Please support “06880.” Just click here, to make a tax-deductible contribution to your hyperlocal blog. Thank you!)
Sarah Gross reminds us that now through November 15 is “Lights Out Connecticut.”
A bill signed by Governor Lamont requires all state-owned buildings to dim or turn off non-essential outdoor lights.
All residents are asked to dim or turn off outdoor and indoor lights too.
The goal is to protect migratory birds, who are put at risk from light pollution. Click here for more information.
Nearly 30% of birds in the US and Canada have vanished since 1970. Click here to learn more.
Connecticut warbler (Photo/Ryan Sanderson for Macaulay Library)
The rainbow crosswalk at Jesup Road and Taylor Place — installed temporarily in June, for Pride Month — is showing signs of wear.
So on Monday, October 2 — the start of LGBTQ History Month — a new, permanent rainbow crosswalk will take its place.
And the official dedication is at 1 p.m. on October 11: National Coming Out Day.
The project — developed by Westport Pride, paid for by private donations, and supported by the Board of Selectwomen and Public Works director Pete Ratkiewich — promotes diversity, inclusion and acceptance in the community.
Nearly 40 individuals, families and businesses from all walks of life contributed funds.
The design and colors– created by Westport Pride founder Brian McGunagle — symbolize “the full spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community,” he says.
“It adds a vibrant touch to our town’s streetscape, but also serves as a powerful symbol of acceptance, unity, and love. We believe it will be a source of pride and inspiration for all Westport residents.”
Dr. Nikki Gorman — who helped sponsor the original temporary rainbow crosswalk, as well as the new permanent one — also took part in the first installation in June.
The Westport Book Shop is just a few yards from the crosswalk.
This Saturday (October 7, 10:30 a.m. to noon), they partner with Earthplace and the Westport Tree Board for their 3rd annual Family Fun + Halloween Pumpkin Painting Project.
It’s a morning of crafts, guest animals from Earthplace, and giveaways from the Tree Board. Michael Zenetti will read from his book “The Sloth and His Friends.” Halloween costumes are optional, but encouraged.
RSVP to the Book Shop: 203-349-5141.
EcoFest — Westport’s sustainable holiday celebration — is set for November 11, at Staples High School.
The sponsors — the school’s Zero Waste Committee — invites all organizations, businesses, artists, crafters and sustainable groups to participate.
A wide variety of exhibitors are welcome. Click here to register. The deadline is October 31.
MyTeamTriumph — whose volunteers help youth, adults and veterans with disabilities to participate in triathlons and road races — is a great non-profit.
Their fundraiser will be a great one too.
“Stories of Triumph & Inclusion” (November 2,6:15 p.m., Westport Library), will feature Chris Nikic, the first person with Down Syndrome to complete an Ironman. He also won the Jimmy V ESPY Award for Perserverance.
The evening includes inspiration from other athletes with disabilities, raffles, drinks, and catering by Marcia Selden.
Click here for tickets and more information, including sponsorships.
My Team Triumph, at the Westport Triathlon.
MoCA Westport’s MoCA Westport’s annual benefit — held last night — was called The Surrealist Soiree.
It featured imaginative décor, avant-garde performers. a DJ, delicious food from Marcia Selden, Spencer Heyfron‘s surreal photo sessions, never-before-seen works by Purvis Young — and this:
Rain and high tides combined to close Burying Hill Beach yesterday.
Ed Simek got this far — and no further — as he snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.
And finally … in honor of migrating birds (story above), this seems appropriate in a couple of ways:
(It’s always the season to think about supporting local journalism — aka “06880.” Please click here to make a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you!)
Sustainable Westport inspires, supports and connects residents, organizations and the town on our goal to becoming a Net Zero community by 2050.
The non-profit advises the first selectman, Westport Public Schools, commissions and departments on determining and setting environmental policies and decisions, to transform Westport into a more sustainable community.
Co-directors Gately Ross & Johanna Martell say:
As commuters head back to work after summer vacations and school drop-offs and pick-ups resume, it’s hard not to notice the recent uptick in traffic throughout Westport.
The major roads in town are a mess of congestion most of the day. Traffic is not only frustrating and inconvenient, but also terribly unhealthy for us and our local environment.
Just another day downtown.
Did you know that the promotion of clean and convenient choices for transportation is one of the 5 pillars that Sustainable Westport identified as critical for the town of Westport to address to reach its goal of becoming a Net Zero community by 2050, or sooner?
Sustainable Westport works to educate the community about the harmful health and environmental effects of idling, promote the adoption of emission-free EV cars and buses, and advocate for the use of public transportation and rideshare options like Wheels2U.
Our transportation efforts pair nicely with Bike Westport, a new grassroots organization dedicated to making our town more bike and pedestrian-friendly.
The benefits of biking and walking extend far beyond the environment; our health, both physical and mental, age-appropriate independence, and increased community are also benefits that the residents of Westport wholeheartedly endorse.
Imke Lohs, Adam Ganser and Markus Marty of Bike Westport.
As counsel to the municipal government, Sustainable Westport recently wrote a memo of support regarding an additional increase to railroad parking fees as an opportunity to begin the conversation about developing a holistic transportation plan that supports our collective goals.
The town administration, Representative Town Meeting and Board of Education need to develop a more comprehensive transportation plan that includes a highly connected, zero pollution, zero carbon transport system, including commuter shuttles and ridesharing, as well as biking, footpaths, and pedestrian walkways.
Although our town has set a formal resolution to reach Net Zero by 2050, we lack an actionable, comprehensive plan to get there. As we look around at the increasing traffic and inability to get from Point A to Point B in Westport in a timely manner, let’s demand that our leaders seek out collaborative and innovative solutions to move us forward.
We will continue to keep you posted on our collective progress.
Today’s weather sliced into the Slice of Saugatuck attendance.
But plenty of people of all ages still headed to the triangle formed by Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place and Saugatuck Avenue, for the 11th annual food tasting, retail experience and fundraiser for the Homes with Hope pantry.
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce event included bouncy houses, a face painter, balloon bender, firehouse tours, beer and wine gardens, and 7 bands.
Any way you slice it, it was a great Saugatuck day.
Pasta, meatballs — and dog treats — at Tutti’s …
… Tuck Gin on Railroad Place …
… kids’ fun by the train station …
… tickets sold by RTM moderator (and former Homes with Hope CEO) Jeff Wieser …
… one of 7 bands …
… Deputy Fire Chief Nick Marsan at the Saugatuck stationhouse, where the Fire Department raised awareness of breast cancer …
… and let little kids drive a fire truck …
… treats at Saugatuck Sweets …
… and cheeseburger meatball at Match Burger Lobster (All photos/Dan Woog)
Forget yesterday’s weather. And this morning’s.
Today’s Slice of Saugatuck is on! The weather prediction is for clearing this afternoon:
Come out from indoors! Enjoy the rest of the day in Saugatuck. There’s food, fun, kids’ activities, and 7 bands.
It’s starts at 2 p.m., and runs until 5. Click here for more information.
Members of Staples’ Service League of Boys (SLOBs) braved the rain to help set up for the Slice of Saugatuck.
Tomorrow is October 1. Which means that from Sunday through March 31:
Violators will be fined $77.
In addition, Westport Parks & Recreation director Jen Fava notes that animals are prohibited from all athletic fields and playgrounds at all times.
As of October 1, dogs are allowed back on Compo Beach. It’s okay, Yogi – you can go in! (Photo/Cathy Malkin)
Tomorrow’s New York Times Magazine includes a long story on Josh Koskoff. The 3rd-generation lawyer — and longtime Westporter — is profiled for his lawsuits against companies that make assault rifles.
Author Michael Steinberger notes that he grew up a year behind Koskoff here, though they cannot recall ever talking.
Click here for the full, fascinating piece.
In May, the Westport Police Detective Bureau initiated an investigation after a victim reported they had fallen for an elaborate financial scam.
In January, the victim was convinced to move money from a retirement account into a “Kraken” cryptocurrency account. Between January and March, over $3 million worth of Bitcoin was withdrawn and transferred to cryptocurrency wallets the victim did not control.
Working with the State Police Organized Crime Task Force, Westport detectives tracked the transactions and froze all accounts associated with the scam.
The investigation led to individuals in Pakistan. Although arrests are highly unlikely, Westport detectives recovered $3.2 million, which was returned to the victim.
Last weekend, Peter Swift wrote an “06880 Opinion” piece about the wetlands, watershed and retention pond near Muddy Brook, by Long Lots Elementary School.
This was the scene yesterday in back of the school, by Bauer Place Extension. The retention pond overflowed, in the heavy rain.
The other day, the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston hosted legendary University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma.
On Monday (October 2), their guest will discuss a different kind of “court.”
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong comes to the Westport Library at 7 p.m.
His talk is called
“From Bierbaum to the Sacklers: How Connecticut Attorney General William Tong Looks Out for Connecticut Citizens.” Just this week, Connecticut joined federal regulators and 16 other states in suing Amazon over allegations that the e-commerce giant took advantage of its market dominance to inflate prices, overcharge sellers and suppress competition.
Tong will talk about the collapse of Joseph Bierbaum’s for-profit colleges, Stone Academy and Paier School of Art, as well as the cooperative, multi-state effort to hold the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma accountable for their actions.
The event is open to the public.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.
The next Friday the 13th comes just weeks before Halloween. The best way to celebrate? With Fireside Mystery Theatre at the Westport Library.
At 6:30 p.m., the award-winning audio theater production company premiers “Nightfall on the Nutmeg State.” The 4 pieces were written especially for the Library.
The troupe’s actors will read live on stage, in full costume, each in front of a mic with script in hand.
The live performance will be recorded and later featured on Fireside Mystery Theatre’s podcast feed, which has reached millions of listeners around the world. It bridges the gap between the Golden Age of Radio and the podcast era.
Tickets are $20. The event is a warmup to StoryFest, the annual literary festival. It runs October 20-22, featuring Neil Gaiman, Angie Kim, Gabino Iglesias, Caroline Kepnes, Eric LaRocca, Josh Malerman and many more.
Click here for tickets, and more information.
The other day, Carolyn Wilkinson noticed something was wrong.
The iconic sign — “Bridge Square, Saugatuck, Conn.” is gone.
It hung there for over 50 years, Carolyn said.
Hey, it was nice while it lasted.
(Photo/Izzy Sareen for Inklings)
Each year around this time, Green’s Farms Church members fan out in Westport, Norwalk and Bridgeport, to work on Service Day projects with partners.
Last Sunday they did landscaping, kitchen clean-up, carpentry, community closet organization, and many other tasks, alongside Homes with Hope’s Gillespie Center, Open Doors Shelter, Pivot Ministries, Recovery Community Development and Bridgeport Rescue Mission.
As the photo below shows, there were plenty of them. And they spanned all ages.
Green’s Farms Church Service Day volunteers.
Mark Shanahan does not take over as Westport Country Playhouse artistic director until next year.
But he’s written, and will direct, “A Sherlock Carol,” Set for December 19-23, it brings characters from Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle together in a story of intrigue and suspense (plus holiday cheer).
Click here for tickets, and more information.
The Longshore Ladies 9 Holers held their annual charity event Thursday, in support of the Westport Woman’s Club food closet.
They collected a trunk full of food items — and collected $1,200 in donations.
That’s quite a day. Hardly “par for the course.”
Longshore ladies golf food for the pantry.
Boygenius — a hot band on a nationwide tour — played at New Haven’s Westville Music Bowl on Thursday.
The opening act was Palehound. Guitarist/vocalist El Kempner graduated from Staples High School in 2010.
Palehound at Westville Music Bowl. (Photo and hat tip/Larry Perlstein)
Larry Kastriner died September 14. He was 92, and lived in Westport for 52 years.
He was born in what was Czechoslovakia to Hungarian parents. He emigrated with them in 1940 to Bridgeport, where where he excelled in academics and competed for the high school swim team.
Larry received a full scholarship to Columbia University. He majored in chemical engineering and was a varsity swimmer. He then earned a master’s degree, and pivoted to patent law.
Newly married to Mary Tydor, Larry attended George Washington University Law School evenings while working full time at the US Patent and Trademark Office. He also clerked at the Court of Customs & Patent Appeals.
Following the birth of their daughter, Marianne, he and Mary moved to Yonkers. He began his career at Union Carbide as a patent attorney. A second daughter, Susan was born. The family moved to Westport in 1965, where they had their third daughter, Cathryn.
Larry enjoyed a long and successful career with Union Carbide (later Praxair) as chief patent counsel.
The family was very involved in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Westport. He served on the Board of Tax Review and was a dedicated member of the YMCA, where he swam and played volleyball. He was a regular attendee at Y’s Men events.
He and Mary spent many evenings walking on the beach or watching the sunset, socializing with friends, and swimming, sailing and playing tennis at Longshore.
While working full time, Larry also taught patent law at the Pace University Law School, as an adjunct professor. In retirement Larry enjoyed gardening, sculpting, and spending winters at the condo that he and Mary owned in Longboat Key, FL.
Larry and Mary moved to Rockville, Maryland in 2017, to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
Larry is survived by his wife of nearly 66 years, Mary; daughters Marianne (Dean) Schwanke, Susan (Andrew) Lawrence, and Cathy Kastriner, and grandchildren Billy and Matthew Schwanke, Anna Lawrence, and Sophie and Kel Kastriner.
A celebration of life will be held October 14 in Rockville. Larry’s ashes will be interred at the Unitarian Church in Westport in connection with a service in the spring. In lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to contribute to Larry’s memory may donate to the organization of their choice, or plant a tree in his memory.
Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows the force of nature.
It’s Deadman Brook, yesterday:
And finally … today is the birthday of Frankie Lymon.
The soprano lead singer of the Teenagers was born in Washington Heights in 1942. He died 25 years later, of a heroin overdose.
In between, he made this masterpiece:
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