Ode To Compo

Once again, summer has come and gone.

Yesterday we were packing picnics for the fireworks. Today we’re packing up the beach towels, and packing the kids off to school.

Tomorrow it will snow.

But before we pack away the memories, let’s think about the remarkable place called Compo Beach. It’s not particularly big, but we pack a ton of fun into it.

Compo means different things to everyone — a remarkably broad and impressive roster of activities. Here’s a completely random list. Feel free to add your own.

  • Romping on the lifeguard stands the minute the lifeguards leave.
  • Sitting with the same friends, at the same spot, in the same formation, at the same time — with different weather, tides and conversation every day.
  • Friday night Sabbath services.
  • Boats, boats and more boats — from humble catamarans and Boston Whalers to big-boy yachts.

  • Dozens of different languages. It’s the UN — but you can always count on the group at South Beach closest to the cannons. I’m not sure if they’re Ukrainians or Russians, but I know one thing: They sure have fun.
  • Kayaking, jet-skiing, windsurfing.
  • The ever-popular Joey’s by the Shore. Long lines move quickly. The menu has more items than most restaurants. And despite the crowds and sand, Joey’s — plus the nearby pavilion — is always very, very clean.
  • Jetty-romping.

  • Sand castles. With actual buckets. It never goes out of style.
  • Private parties at the small building near the marina. This may be the best secret in town: You can rent it — dirt cheap.
  • Fishing.
  • No glass bottles on the beach. The Parks & Rec crew does their best to enforce this rule. Beachgoers do their best to break it.
  • Running through the bathhouses.
  • The playground. Remember the uproar when it was built? Neighbors and others seriously predicted it would “ruin the vista,” and attract riffraff at all hours of the day and night. Seriously?
  • Softball, soccer, basketball, volleyball. Also Frisbee, Kadima and tag.
  • Sunset-watching to the west. Then turn around, for an equally impressive moonrise in the east.

  • Walking, jogging, biking, stroller pushing. Motorcycling.
  • Wading. Venturing further into the water. Serious jetty to jetty swimming.
  • Cannon-sitting.
  • Throwing elaborate parties, with tablecloths, flowers and silverware, on South Beach. Catered clambakes, for your company party. Or just tossing burgers on the grill.
  • Playing cards all day long in the wooden pavilion.
  • Reading the daily quote at the lifeguard shack. Asking the lifeguards for help — whether a cut or a lost kid. Marveling at the lifeguards’ professionalism — hey, most of them are just kids.

  • Camp Compo.
  • Crab-finding.
  • No saving tables. Saving tables.
  • Enjoying the beach when there’s no one else there. Enjoying it when the place is packed. And every other time in between.

26 responses to “Ode To Compo

  1. Compo…just a perfect place anytime of the year!

  2. Always in the sand

    I savor the beach during the quite times – it is truly a jewel of the town.

    Speaking of town jewels, you should post a similar article on Longshore. Based on the horrendous condition of the golf course, you are sure to get some fun responses.

  3. It is a very, very special place!! One that I miss very much, having spent multiple years being a part of “The Beach” and a part of “The Basin” each day, I now look back and cherish the memories of a very, very special place.Thanks Dan, your “Ode to Compo” was fabulous!!

    Tom Wall

  4. Babette d'Yveine

    Picnics at sunset on South Beach.

  5. Midnight dip under the full moon – nary a thread

  6. Canines Oct. 1 — my favorite ‘Compo’ time of year.

  7. Westporter Since '03

    I still pinch myself every time I round the curve on Compo Beach Road and see the marina in front of me (esp spectacular with a sunset behind it)…
    or the expanse of the beach in front of Soundview Drive opens up in front of me as I circle past the beach entrance.

    After living here for almost 9 years, I continue to find Westport one of the loveliest towns I’ve ever seen… and Compo is a primary reason, IMHO.

    Thanks, Dan. I’ll always join you in an “Ode to Compo…”
    Enjoy the rest of your summer !

  8. Clamming with dad, hanging with friends, kissing my boyfriend now husband when my big brother saw us, celebrations, each of my 4 kids as babies, my camera, a few times out on the boat, and last night watching the sunset with my wonderful hubby, and a million other things. …xoxoxo xox Compo. I love you.

  9. Scampering out to “Treasure Island” at low tide to look for “Treasure” (Sea Shells) and scampering back as the tide rolls in to hide the island.

  10. Carl Volckmann

    You mentioned Friday night sabbath service, but you left out the 30-year tradition of Sunday 8:30 AM church services at the cannons. Hundreds attend. They are sponsored by Greens Farms Congregational, Saugatuck Congrgational, Westport United Methodist, Norfield (Weston) Congregational and Wilton Congregational churches, and are open to all. Just bring your beach chair and sunglasses!

  11. Crusin’ Soundview nice n slow watching the happy sun worshipers tan.

  12. Howard Udell

    Great column, Dan. I’ve got two more:

    Walking on the beach after a big snow.
    The lockers. How awful they are. How grateful we are to have them.


  13. A very important tradition……Sunday Staples High School Reunions!

  14. Barbara Bangser

    Thanks for this lovely tribute, Dan. Compo is the gem of Westport and we enjoy it every season.

  15. Late night Skim boarding at low tide with friends. Perfect tribute, Dan.

  16. Working at Chubby’s in the 1960’s. Wonderful memories. Thanks for the post.

  17. Love the memories. My husband proposed to me at Compo Beach, knowing it was such a special place to me. I haven’t lived in Westport for the past 25 years but always say the thing I miss the most is the beach.

  18. Leahsart@aol.com

    It doesn’t get better than Westport

  19. Finding the best wifi spot and working while watching a glorious sunset. (transmitter is by the marina by the way).

  20. I’ve loved it since the beach consisted of rocks, not sand.

  21. Sitting in a folding chair while the incoming tide splashes at my feet!

  22. Im just saying, late at night, the beach is very scary. Apparently there was a murder there 42 years ago. So try and avoid going down there.



  23. Picnics under the trees, when the grass was walkable. Eating Sunday night suppers before my boyfriend, future husband, had to catch a train back to the Newburgh, new York base. Later in life taking a ride around the beach to get the baby to fall asleep and give Mom and Dad some down low time. Compo is a place were I go now to remember the good times that have passed, lots of good memories.