Pardon His Westport

After graduating from Staples High School in 1988, Chris Pardon headed to Marquette University.

“It was good to get out of the Northeast,” he says of the Milwaukee school. “I saw a part of the country and met people I wouldn’t have if I stayed in the area.”

But as a journalism and broadcast communications major, most work was on the coasts. His first job was as an NBC page — so he moved back home.

Then it was on to Turner Broadcasting, where he’s been ever since. He now works on the business side, with CNN.

Pardon’s career and personal lives followed a path familiar to many Staples grads. He lived on the Upper East Side, got married, had a kid, and landed in Brooklyn.

Though his son was in a “decent” public school, it was crowded. A year and a half ago Pardon and his wife Ria decided the time was right to move to the ‘burbs.

Chris and Ria Pardon, with their son.

Her family is from Scarsdale. Pardon’s parents still live here, in the same house they raised him in. So he and Ria started looking in Westchester and Fairfield Counties.

They spent a lot of time searching for the right spot. But Westchester property taxes were “staggering.” And, Pardon says, “there are places like Chappaqua, with great schools. But there’s nothing to do there.”

In Connecticut, they did everything they could to avoid Westport — mainly because of the long commute.

But the homes they saw in Greenwich did not appeal to them. In Darien, everything affordable and likable was next to 95 or Metro-North. New Canaan — well, it’s not on the water.

It took some convincing for his wife to agree to look at the town where Pardon’s brother Doug had just bought a house, and where his parents live too.

A couple of open houses opened her eyes. And, Pardon says, “We were surprised how much further our money went in Westport.”

He knew about “great music and arts in the schools. Compo blows other Fairfield County beaches away.” But, he admits, “If I didn’t know what I was getting into, I wouldn’t want to be this far out.”

Two days before Christmas, they moved into the Old Hill neighborhood.

One surprise was the 4-year wait list for a train station parking permit. Fortunately, the shuttle bus travels along Pardon’s new street.

The Westport transit bus is a great — and unexpected — Westport perk for Doug Pardon.

“The realtor told us, but I didn’t realize how important that is,” he says.

“I thought I’d just pay $5 a day for parking. But I take the bus every day. We didn’t have to buy a 2nd car. That’s the greatest thing ever.”

He uses the app to see where the bus is in the morning. In the afternoon, it drops him off in front of his house.

Some things have changed — there’s a “new” high school, and Bedford Square “is amazing” in place of the old Y — but Pardon settled quickly into his old/new home town.

His wife took their son to a Coleytown Middle School play. “They were blown away!” he says. She has gone to school breakfasts, and met other parents.

Pardon is also surprised by the number of people he recognizes. Far more than he realized have stayed around — or, like he, returned.

“I feel like a bit of a townie,” he says. “I know there are new restaurants, and I look forward to going. But so far we’ve only been to the Duck and Dunville’s — the towniest places around.”

9 responses to “Pardon His Westport

  1. James Honeycutt

    Chris might be surprised by the number of people he recognizes. But I remember him very well. Nice story Dan. Chris was a good student at Staples. You remember those kids and I remember him. Welcome home Chris!

    • OMG Mr. Honeycutt! Thanks so much for your kind words! It’s been a while since 7th grade at Long Lots but it’s great to be back! Hope all is well!

  2. Gerry Kuroghlian

    The Pardons are a great Westport family. I’m very glad Doug and his wife have selected a great town and school system in which to raise their family!

  3. Welcome [back] home Chris – as someone who also set out to experience other parts of this country without a plan to return to my hometown to grow old, I know how it goes – later on when you add it all up, that town you were just itching to leave behind as you make your mark on the world ends up being the clear winner, and a great place to raise your own family.

    There are always naysayers – “the Town has changed so much from when I grew up there”, etc. – but in the end, it is the character of the town that makes Westport special – and you’re obviously a part of that great character. Glad to have you back.

  4. while your at it Doug buy a “Townie” shirt for you and the misses and son google them and get the Saugatuck bridge shirt

  5. Welcome home, Chris and Ria! Nice story, Dan. Glad that Chris is so happy with the Westport Transit shuttles and is using the myStop app to track the buses. As a volunteer Westport Transit District Director, I thought I’d provide a little more info about the commuter shuttles: Westport Transit operates shuttles on 7 routes to and from the Saugatuck and Greens Farms rail stations. The commuter shuttles leave riders off right at the station platform, so they avoid the time it takes to search for parking and then the long walk to the train station. Information on routes, schedules and the myStop app can be found at westporttransit.org.

  6. David Loffredo

    You’ll remember the ride to NYC as being shorter – thanks to years of neglect on our crumbling infrastructure the 57 minutes is now more like 72.

    Oh, and your taxes will only go up….

  7. This story is like so many others (though usually minus the family connections) – family feels Brooklyn is great but for schools and costs, communities with shorter commutes have less to offer in housing, Westport is further than desired but the cost to benefit ratio is great! With some good housing stock under $1mm, which makes the property taxes to per student spending a great deal, it works well. That was our story 5 years ago, right down to the family history – my grandparents were a part of the Westport arts scene in the 40s and 50s and have appeared in shows at the historical society, my father went to Kings Highway when it was a middle school and to Mahackeno when it was a camp in the woods. The long commute, however, was more grating than I thought, even on the 752am out and the 546pm back it was too much and after 5 years I called it and took a job in Sono. Welcome home!

  8. Hi Chris and Welcome Back! My husband(Bill Green) and I are both Staples graduates, traveled all over the world and ended up back in Westport where we raised our 3 girls, all of whom graduated from Staples. We have even made our living locally in real estate, building, buying and selling properties over the past 30+ years. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family and I wish you all the best.
    Linda Durakis
    SHS Class of ’79

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