“Saving” A Spot For Tomorrow’s Fireworks? Read This!

It’s inevitable.

Moments after the sun rises tomorrow, someone will send me a photo like this:

Or this:

Or this:

I’m not sure who these people are, who think that reserving massive swaths of sand — or long picnic tables, with “You Cannot Reserve Tables” plastered prominently on them — is cool.

Well, actually I do. They’re all named Dick.

Don’t be like Dick. If you want a prime spot, pick a little bit of it. And have someone stay there all day. You can even hire some kid — yours, or someone else’s — to do it.

If the situation gets even more out of hand than it recently has — and it’s gotten grosser and greedier every year for the past few — we might want to consider the Shore & Country Club solution.

It’s private — but a prime viewing site for Norwalk’s fireworks (also July 3). Alert “06880” reader David Loffredo forwarded an email, from the club to members.

In late June, members who wanted a picnic table for fireworks day could click a link, to enter a drawing. They could request marina or beachhouse side, or covered or uncovered — but nothing was guaranteed.

Winners were selected randomly, and assigned a random table. Each table will be labeled with the member’s name.

One more, for good measure. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

What a great idea! We could auction off not only South Beach tables but prime spots of sand, from the cannons to the Soundview jetty.

It could even be a fundraiser for PAL (or Parks & Rec, for beach improvements): $5 to enter. If you don’t pay, you can’t play…

Better yet: a raffle! Tables and plots of sand could be clearly marked online; click on one, and bid. Just think how much that would raise 🙂

But here’s the best idea of all — and we can do it tomorrow.

Confiscate any unattended stuff, and charge Dick and his friends to get it back.

If it’s not claimed by, say, 6 p.m.: Sell it to whoever wants it.

Some of those tents, beach chairs, tables, coolers, portable grills — and the food in them — are pretty pricey. They could fund an entirely new bathroom!

42 responses to ““Saving” A Spot For Tomorrow’s Fireworks? Read This!

  1. Mark L Yurkiw

    Great suggestions ….Love all of them!….how about adding an Express bus from Imperial lot for $5

  2. F. ACCARDI MD

    Message: Hi Dan,
    Didn’t know it was this bad . Since the no reservations signs are on the beach why not burden the Westport PD with the task of clearing the area before and if you want some item it is a $100 fine per item .
    In 48 hours what’s is left goes to Goodwill and the funds go to the PAL.
    Should settle the issue after one season’s celebration.
    PS Everyone who buys a car ticket gets 6 wristbands. No band no beach.
    Sorry to vent but just annoyed.
    F

  3. I hope there is a prevention plan.
    The beach closes at 4pm – For “safety reasons” All items left unattended will get confiscated.
    I miss the photos of the beautiful red ribbons securing patriotic table clothes over already-set tables.

  4. What is the town’s position on this? Perhaps a PSA would be helpful

  5. Rebecca G. Oren

    With all due respect, the tone of this post is completely counter to the spirit of this once-a-year COMMUNITY event. Why not just live and let live? It’s a really big beach with room for all. If reserving space allows families and groups to be together for a special evening, so be it. Not everything needs to be angry, resentful and punitive. Far more upsetting than any chairs on the beach is that it’s somehow become okay to name call our neighbors (Dicks? Really, Dan?) and suggest we take each other’s belongings to make a point. In our ten years in Westport, the fireworks have always been a fun, positive and happy experience. No one has ever been left out of the beautiful show because groups chose to set up some chairs and blankets early.

    • Adam Schwartz

      Rebecca, doesn’t sound like you’ve ever been to Compo for the Fireworks. If you have then you would never have said what you did…

  6. Trish Leavitt

    The town needs to police this so people can enjoy the beach today. Crazy not to be able to use a picnic table or enjoy those beach spots today. I’m not against turning it all into a donate pile for people to use during the fireworks. Make your spots tomorrow morning and have a person watch your belongings.

  7. I have lived here for 45 yrs and It’s just a disgusting display of greed and hubris. What is the matter with everyone? Who is so entitled as to think they can go down to the beach lay down a 9×12 rug with chairs around it with a standing bar and claim it as their own.and that’s every 5 feet!’ There is no doubt that I would roll up that rug and move the chairs if I wanted to sit At that very spot just as folks would do that years ago with the tables at south beach with Chairs piled on top of them. NO one gets to do that. And u have every right to move it all. How is that acting like a community? Bring chairs and blankets and small tables for food so that the folks behind u can see what’s going on. I watched a guy set up a tent last year that could have fit the entire beach on soundview! Seriously!! That’s not acting like a community. It’s acting like a jerk. Please think about ur fellow westporters when u are doing this. Although I know it will fall on deaf ears and these people will continue to do what They want. Greed and hubris. Try to act
    Like an adult and a part of the community. Here’s hoping.

  8. Kelly Arciola

    I have been going to the Westport Fireworks my whole life. I always get there early and bring some tables and chairs and I do sit there all day or we as a group take shifts. I have also seen people leave their stuff as well. I have never seen an issue with space. To say to take peoples stuff or make a change is crazy. It is not a sign of entitlement. Honestly it is a great night enjoyed by thousands.
    The one thing I can say is please purchase a Fireworks pass, even if you are a walker or riding your bike. The PAL is a great program and we are so fortunate to have so many volunteer their time.

  9. It’s as if we need a “quality of life force” to supplement the police force! Imagine our QAL department out in force the day of the fireworks, making sure everyone played by the rules. They could also take care of the zillions of ad signs posted at every intersection, deal with the take-up-two-space parking problems, and generally serve to remind us that our responsibilities, as part of a community, include more than refraining from criminal activity.

  10. Karen Kranick-Howes

    When my brother and I were kids, my Dad and and another dad used to get down to South Beach early morning and hang out there all day and thru fireworks..my brother and I would come down lunchtime to sit there and help , and for company !!!! Rest of the group would follow with food !Worked well and happily !❤️

  11. The beach used to be packed with people blanket to blanket with food and kids playing and sometimes u get to talking to those sitting close by. It’s always been a happening that everyone was enjoying. Last year I ran into an elderly couple who stood on the sidewalk looking at the beach covered with unattended chairs and tables and blankets and tents. There was no space left. They were so dejected and said they were leaving. Now it’s set up so everyone is having a catered affair with blenders mixing drinks and adults drinking and kids running amok or worse toddlers getting lost in the dark. It feels stressful for those who just want to see the fireworks on the sand and enjoy the evening. It is entitlement to forget about others who are coming with just their kids a blanket and a bucket of stews fried chicken. Why do we need others to tell us what to do. Just do what is right and be kind and mindful of others. And it’s a sad commentary on our society.

  12. Maybe reserving a picnic table for the whole day is a bit rude as there are limited amounts, but saving saving a spot on the beach with a large group is not really a big deal. The beach is huge and has plenty of space to accomodate everyone – certainly those who do pay for a parking pass. I really don’t think it’s a big deal – I will be putting my stuff out early. I love how you’re condoning theft. Imagine thousands of people arriving with all their gear at 5:00, rushing to get a spot- that would be a nightmare. This is a fantastic Westport event – Chill out Dan and have a beer on me tomorrow.

  13. Dan, I enjoy your blogs and appreciate what you add to the community, but this post is just plain wrong. If people want to set up a spot so they can enjoy the fireworks with their friends and family, so be it. For you to suggest that people should confiscate other people’s property and/or vandalize it is ridiculous. It’s not about entitlement. It’s about community. If I want to ensure that I can sit with 20 of my closest friends, that’s my business. I’ve never encountered space issues on the beach. And it’s none of my business what other people do either. There’s plenty of room for everyone. Live and let live. Let’s find something else to rant about as there are far more important issues to focus on. Happy July 4th.

    • KM Wilson, I’m sorry you missed class the day the teacher introduced the concept of “satire.”

      As for “never encountering space issues at the beach,” either 1) that’s because you hogged more space than you need early in the day, or 2) you have never actually been to the Westport fireworks. There is NOT “plenty of room for everyone” at the fireworks. Although there would be, if people just took as much space as they actually needed, and did not set up enormous sand McMansions as you see in these photos. I guarantee you, many of those seats are never filled.

      • I Agee with Dan. Living in Westport for 45 years I have seen a lot at the beach. It was always problem when on a Friday or Saturday you would always see the picnic tables and grills taken early in the morninf with table cloths and chairs on top of them. If I recall there was signs that said you couldn’t do that. Dan is not wrong for his comments. Some residents take full advantage of this and don’t think of anyone but themselves. Keep up the good work Dan.

        • Jeff and I agree! A first — but great! Thanks, Jeff – much appreciated!

        • Just to be clear, I wasn’t taking about taking picnic tables or grills and holding them hostage. That I agree shouldn’t be allowed. But if a large group of people decide they want to be together for ONE night for a special event and put their chairs together to ensure that, I don’t see the problem. There’s a lot of sandy real estate on Compo. Isnt it worse when hundreds of people are scrambling around looking for their group? That leads to far more chaos, especially for those that bring their children. Its one day out of 365. Some people will find a reason to complain about anything. 🙄
          And Dan, I’ve been to the fireworks for three years in a row. And all that space gets filled with adults and children, “guaranteed”.
          And while I might not recall the exact class that introduced “satire”, I can recognize when someone is trying to incite hate and hostility. Maybe you should use your platform more wisely as opposed to creating divisions within the community. Nowadays, everyone is a keyboard warrior. But that’s just my opinion.

          • Adam Schwartz

            KM Wilson, Of all the people in Westport and the entire Internet, you choose Dan to attack? Are you serious?!?!? LOL

            • Who’s “attacking”? Simply replying to his comment. Read the thread. Otherwise, you’re taking it out of context. Have a good night.

  14. Instead of encouraging others to steal people’s property, a better solution would be the Medieval stocks for public humiliation! Maybe flogging or tarring and feathering would teach these miscreants a lesson. I mean, I can’t think of anything worse than a large group of friends wanting to be together with their young children in a safe environment to enjoy each others’ company and watch the Melissa and Doug fireworks. And how rude of them to take up space on a gigantic beach where they aren’t bothering anyone, just trying to be together rather than fragmented, and aren’t taking a spot from anyone else. Sure, they should probably have people on rotation sitting in some of the seats throughout the day, but encouraging people to steal their stuff and even caring so much in the first place is absurd.

  15. David J Loffredo

    Or maybe pay $100 to reserve your spot and PAL raises more money for charity?

  16. Irene Mastriacovo

    It’s pretty simple — those who don’t like the crowding/hogging, leave the beach by 4PM and then meet me on the bridge at 9 — beautiful view of the fireworks! Regardless of your “views”, enjoy a safe and happy 4th! Peace out.

    • I agree with Irene. Dan, maybe you could do a follow up to your article with an alternative for people who want to see the fireworks from a more low key area. Where else in the town can you view the fireworks?

      • I always watch from the beach. It’s the best party in town. So I have no idea where other people watch from. Let’s crowd-source this. If anyone has any special advice (and they’re willing to share it — though if enough people read this, it may not be “low-key” anymore!), please answer here. Thanks!

  17. Adam Schwartz

    Having lived my childhood in Westport, I can’t tell you how much I miss so many things about the town, including the fireworks show at Compo. It’s been close to 50 years since I last attended a 4th at Compo! But I still remember like it was yesterday the great times. I also remember the circles and tables sitting empty when we arrived and after my mother and her friend had their normal 5-6 glasses of wine by the time we arrived, I had to listen to them speak under their breath about those horrible people all night. Didn’t matter because us kids were running around having the time of our lives! The sad part is the fact there are so many who attend the fireworks at Compo and enjoy all that Westport has to offer but they have absolutely no clue how good they have it. Greed and the culture of entitlement seem to have taken over. Just look at Dan’s parking pictures. Most of the cars in those pictures would be keyed or tires slashed where I live. I firmly believe this saving space at Compo is all about this. Too bad because there are so many good people in Westport and it only takes these few greedy and entitled morons to bring down the overall excitement of the day for everyone else! My question is, how do these people transport all those metal chairs and tables without scratching their Mercedes, BMW’s or Audi’s? Could you imagine?!?!

  18. Dan,

    I’ve enjoyed your blog since we moved here a few years ago. I’m hopeful this particular blog was written while you were consuming an entire bottle of whatever libation you enjoy. As a parent of a two and four-year-old, moving to Westport and not knowing anyone, I was very pleasantly surprised to learn my family and I were not outliers. Like so many young families, without local family, we were hopeful to meet many other families and create a community for our kids. Viewing the photos you showcased above, I see many things – I see community, I see thoughtful zones setup by parents to not lose of their young children…. and I see many $15 – $20 chairs from Costco. I don’t see entitlement. *Please note, we also personally love our Costco beach gear.

    Tomorrow night we are bringing our four year old to his first fireworks. For that reason, we view tomorrow night as special. We also know our son will be out of his element and up way past his bedtime. I was looking forward to safety, fun, and a community of great new friends all keeping an eye out for each other’s very young children – ensuring together as a community that none of these young kids get lost. To your point, the beach, parking lot, and surrounding area is beyond packed. The culprit is Melissa & Doug, along with the Westport Local Police, EMS and FD who do an excellent job managing the festivities every year – they’ve created a popular destination.

    Per your above article, you are ABSOLUTELY inciting violence and criminal acts. I hope everyone on this chain realizes you’re ‘just kidding’. I very kindly recommend (when you sober up), you swiftly apologize to the community.

    Also, to your points on rules around seating for the family fireworks. I personally hope basic town family fireworks do not turn into Krzyzewskiville. But its also probably not the best idea to recommend implementation of new ideas within 24 hours of the actual event occurrence.

    I personally hope everyone has a safe night and the kids have an awesome experience. Per your line on ‘coolers, grills, food’ – I’d assume all the community’s attendees purchasing food/drink/seating ahead of the fireworks is good for the local economy. But perhaps local merchants would disagree.

    I’d also add that Westport is obviously a magical town, but there are also competing towns who are trying to attract families to purchase homes. As the Westport fireworks are traditionally such a positive night for the whole town, maybe its not good publicity to have the lead blogger of Westport inciting theft and crime to potential home buyers and new community members.

    Have a good night Dan.

    • Welcome to Westport. I hope you have a great night. Your kids will love the fireworks. If you see me, be sure to wave.

      I’m sorry you took me so literally. I was not trying to incite violence OR imply that we should institute a “new idea” (if by that you mean what the Shore & Country Club does). If by “new idea” you mean “don’t save spots without a human being there,” that was the way it was for decades in town (and why the “don’t save tables” signs are on South Beach). It’s only in the last few years that this arms race has begun.

      As for “Krzyzewskiville,” that’s my point exactly: People wait in line for days for the privilege of getting seats. They don’t set up their stuff and leave — they stay there.

      And about that “swift apology to the community,” sure: It’s coming when you apologize for saying I write my posts after drinking an entire bottle of wine.

      Oh, wait — that was sarcasm. Right?

      • Isn’t this a Community event…. C O M M U N I T Y event, Try communing with the strangers next to you, invite them to meet your friends, share!! Remember what they taught you in Kindergarten, be nice, share…offer them what you have….food, drink, …space to sit! SMILE Meet your “new” neighbours, you might make a new friend. Doesn’t that sound awful?

      • Dan, per your reply, ‘and about that “swift apology to the community,” sure: It’s coming when you apologize for saying I write my posts after drinking an entire bottle of wine.’ That seems fair, I apologize for suggesting you were intoxicated while writing your post. Happy 4th.

  19. Michelle Benner

    Hang in there Dan! It’s interesting / concerning that some people are taking your satire so literally and missing your point entirely. I also think some people do what they do because of example. Perhaps if more signs were put up discouraging the blocking off of huge swaths of sand with loads of chairs, less people, especially newcomers, would think that’s the norm. People justify their actions because the greed has become familiar and normalized. Plus, accusing you of excessively drinking while writing your blog post? A reflection of the accuser, clearly a classic case of projection.

  20. I find this night to be one of the best in Westport. I like many put some chairs down, no tent, no camp out. But hey, those that do, are polite, kind, always offering a drink or food. It’s a big beach, it is the one night that alcohol is allowed, and everyone respects this nice gesture by our great town. It is not abused. We celebrate our independence and our community. WE are NOT of political party but of our community called Westport.

    To all the residents of our beach community thank you all for being so gracious on Halloween and our 4th of July celebrations. You folks are always so gracious to us and our kids. Always providing a bathroom for a child, a band aid for a cut, or just a smile and hello.

    Thank you all in advance for a great 20219 Fireworks Celebration. To our PAL sponsors and Doug and Melissa Bernstein – you guys rock!

    Now stop reading and get DOWN AND RESERVE YOUR SPACE 🙂

  21. Hi Dan,
    I know you were being sarcastic with the stealing, but thought it was a bit excessive. And i hope you enjoyed the sarcasm of my tarred and feathered line 🙂

    But, seriously, i think what you’re missing here is that the reason people are doing this is to keep their kids in a defined area. I’m bringing my 4 year old tonight and having her play with her friends in a group surrounded by parents dramatically lowers the risk of her getting lost on what we all know is a chaotic night.

    Sure, someone should probably be there sitting with the chairs during the day, but setting up chairs is very different than pre-reserving grills and picnic tables. If you can think of a better solution for our kids’ safety and to not have a parents worst nightmare of a child getting lost during the fireworks at Compo, please let us know.

  22. Lauren MacNeill

    I think what some people are missing is the degree to which people save space and erect barriers that prevent people from seeing. Its fine that people save space to sit together and put chairs out, but you can see in the pictures that Dan has posted that people erect these huge circles that take up a good portion of the width of the beach. There’s really not plenty of room for everyone if people act like its their front yard rather than a public beach they need to share. It is a special night with a great community and friends and family’s want to meet, that’s why people have to be a little more courteous and not take what they really don’t need.

  23. I’m sure the night was fun (we weren’t there) but the BASIC idea that very few addressed is why one doesn’t see someone sitting with the chairs, tables, blankets over the day. That’s what was always done in Westport, and now it seems that no one wants to follow the simple rule that the signs say, “You cannot reserve tables”. So simple, why don’t people in this great community town get that? Put out a lot of chairs, but have someone stay there with them. Oh, your family is busy? Well, until the last few years, that always worked so well. Not Westport’s fault that you feel entitled to break the rule.

  24. And Dan Woog is a Westport treasure, so the abuse riddled at him in this post was offensive. He was just stating what the signs say and that they aren’t followed. Wish the police could just put everything in a pile nearby and let other people set out their chairs/tables on that spot. They ARE breaking a town rule.

Commenters MUST fill out their real full names, and provide their real email addresses!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s