This weekend’s Italian American Police Society’s Car Show was special.
And not because over 300 classic, modified, foreign and racing cars competed for trophies. Or because their owners and friends feasted on barbecue, shared $5,000 in raffle prizes, and enjoyed perfect summer weather.
There was also a tribute to Vincent Penna Jr. The former Westport Police Department deputy chief died a week before Christmas, of a heart attack. He was 51 years old.
Westport Police detectives Sereniti Taranto and Sharon Russo, with officers from nearby towns, raised over $10,000 for the Vincent Penna Jr. Scholarship Fund.
Penna’s family — including his wife Denise, and sons Vincent and Nicholas — picked the most prestigious award at the car show: a 1932 yellow Ford coupe, just like John Milner’s from “American Graffiti.”
The car show connection continues. Among his many activities, Penna served with the Westport Police Benevolent Association. They’ve got their own car show this Saturday (August 21, 4 to 8 p.m., Saugatuck train station). (Hat tip: Andrew Colabella)
Among the highlights of the weekend’s final Shopping Day of the summer: The voice of Shiloh Verrico
The 11-year-old actor/singer from New Jersey — a co-star on Netflix’s “Country Comfort” with recent Staples High School graduate Jamie Mann, who also performed — wowed the crowd,
“She literally stopped everyone in their tracks,” says Julie Van Norden. “You could have heard a pin drop when she sang ‘Sound of Silence.’ I’ve never heard such a voice in one so young, at least not in person!”
Shiloh is a student at 1983 Staples grad Cynthia Gibb’s Triple Threat Academy, for young actors, singers and dancers.
When she hits it big — well, bigger — you can say you heard her here first.
One other great moment from the weekend: Dan Levinson’s Palomar Jazz Band, at the Levitt Pavilion.
Another large crowd filled the lawn, as the sun set and music played. After COVID forced a dark summer in 2020, this year’s 60 evenings of free music have been a welcome relief.
Kids watch their parents. They mimic them — the good, and the bad.
Want evidence that the next generation will grow up to be entitled drivers and parkers, just like their elders? Just look at this photo yesterday, from Church Lane:
On a more serious note, kids do watch how their parents drive.
For the past few days, parents dropping off and picking up their children at Wakeman Fields have been driving very, very fast.
The newly paved road linking Cross Highway and the Bedford Middle School parking lot has turned into a Grand Prix straightaway.
With the addition of curbs on both sides, it’s narrower than ever. It’s even tougher now to back up and turn around. Traffic roars by in both directions, while kids cross without looking.
Be careful. Slow down. Please show your children — and all the others — how to drive safely.
What an end to a great weekend! If anyone wonders why we love Westport, just show them last night’s sunset over Sherwood Mill Pond:
Sure, it’s been a hot few days. Time for cool off — “Westport … Naturally” style.
And finally … back in 1969, today marked the last day of Woodstock.
There were some legendary performances. Also some really, really atrocious ones.
How to pick what to feature today?
How about some artists who — before or after going down to Yasgur’s farm — performed in Westport.
Richie Havens was in Westport several times. The first was when he took the Staples High School stage as a stand-in for the Blues Project, who were stuck in a New York recording studio.
He was flexible at Woodstock too, improvising “Freedom” on the spot after playing every song he knew, while most of the other first-day acts were stuck in a massive traffic jam.
Sly & the Family Stone played at least twice in Westport — once at Staples, once at Longshore. This is one of the enduring images from Woodstock:
Arlo Guthrie played at the Westport Country Playhouse:
And how about these Woodstock performers who — at some point in their lives — lived (or, in once case still live) in Westport?
Joe Cocker rented here — and auditioned musicians for his “Mad Dogs & Englishmen” tour at the Westport Country Playhouse.
Johnny Winter lived here around the same time. He’d hold court — and play — at Players’ Tavern, next to the Playhouse (most recently, Positano restaurant).
And — though Bert Sommer never made it into the “Woodstock” movie — he performed at Woodstock too. He was accompanied by Ira Stone — now a longtime Westporter.