Roundup: Memorial Day Parade, Bright Lights, Knotweed …

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And the grand marshal of the 2022 Memorial Day parade is … Jean Wells.

Born 104 years ago in Indiana (!), she moved to Westport in 1926, Jean attended Bedford Elementary School (now Town Hall), and Katherine Gibbs School.

In 1943 she joined SPARS, the women’s division of the Coast Guard. She attained the rank of Yeoman 2nd Class, and was discharged in 1945. Jean returned to Westport, and in 1957 married David Wells.  They have 2 sons, David and Jonathan.

Jean has been active with the Red Cross, and volunteered at Norwalk Hospital for over 32 years.  She also visits with her fellow veterans at the VA hospital.

Her selection as grand marshal fits well with this year’s Memorial Day parade float contest them: “Honoring Women Veterans.”

The Memorial Day parade begins at 9 a.m. on May 30. A ceremony follows immediately, on Veterans Green.   

Jean Wells and her caregiver, Simone Nevi, at her 102nd birthday in 2019.

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Last month, “06880” reported on a dispute between residents of Cottage Lane and SIR Development. Neighbors complained that lights from the new construction at 1480 Post Road East were shining brightly onto their property.

On Monday, the Planning & Zoning Commission voted 5-2 to approve the original lighting plan that had been passed by a subcommittee, and supported by Cottage Lane homeowners. SIR had requested that a later plan, submitted by them, be okayed.

Click here for the full story, first reported in Westport Journal.

Lights at 1480 Post Road East. (Photo/Chris Grimm)

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Swoon — the great antiques/art/accessories/custom furniture/design services space in Sconset Square — was the setting last night for Jane Green’s launch party.

The bazillion-selling author (and longtime Westporter) just published her first novel inspired by a true story, “Sister Stardust” re-imagines the life of troubled 1960’s icon Talitha Getty, as only Jane Green can.

Jane Green, at her launch party. (Photo/Jerri Graham)

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Speaking of Sconset Square: Josh Levkoff and Stacey Lewis (and their 2 toddlers) are new in town. They run their own small businesses, and are looking to get involved in many ways.

Josh — a jeweler — is wasting no time. He’s teamed up with Bespoke Designs, for a “Sip and Shop” event tomorrow (Thursday, April 7, 5 to 7 p.m.) and Friday (April 8, 10 to 3 p.m.), at Bespoke (in Sconset Square).

He’s already got the Westport spirit. A portion of the proceeds will go to MoCA Westport, for children’s programming.

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Prince Charles’ goddaughter is coming to town.

Designer, entrepreneur and humanitarian India Hicks — recently feature in People Magazine — headlines a special event at MoCA Westport (May 12, 5 to 7 p.m.).

After a cocktail hour, India will chat with CT Cottages & Gardens editor-in-chief DJ Carey about her most recent book, “An Entertaining Story.”

Tickets includes hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and a copy of her book. Click here to purchase.

India Hicks

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Nix the knotweed!

That’s the title of Aspetuck Land Trust’s next “Lunch & Learn” (April 13, noon to 1:15 p.m., Zoom).

Natural gardener Suzanne Thompson offers an overview of the worst invasive plants in the area (yeah you, mugwort, garlic mustard, multiflora rose, Japanese barberry, and of course knotweed).

She’ll talk about how to remove or combat them, and re-establish native ecosystems that support pollinators, wildlife and insects. Click here to register.

Suzanne Thompson

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Sports and entertainment — two of America’s most popular and fascinating industries — intersect at the Westport Library on April 26 (6:15 p.m. reception, 7:15 p.m. program).

Westporter Mark Shapiro talks about his career — first with ESPN, now at Endeavor (the talent and media agency with clients in movies, television, music, theater, digital media and publishing — and the NFL, NHL and Ultimate Fighting Championship).

He’ll chat with author and investigative journalist Jim Miller. It’s the next “Andrew Wilk Presents …,” courtesy of the “Live at Lincoln Center” producer.

The event is free. Click here to register to attend in person, or via Zoom.

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Tickets are selling fast for “Next to Normal,” the first Westport Country Playhouse production of the 2022 season.

But you don’t have to see the show to be part of a series of special events, delving deeply into the theme of mental illness.

“Next to Normal: Dig Deeper” is free, and open to all. The sessions begin approximately 2 1/2 hours after the curtain time.

Tom Kitt, the show’s composer, is the guest this Sunday (April 10, 3 p.m. curtain). He’ll discuss his musical that received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and 2 Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Orchestrations.

Other programs include post-play dialogues with the audience. The first is a conversation about the music from “Next to Normal” and its significance to the subject matter (Thursday, April 7).

Pastoral counseling services and spiritual well-being will be discussed with Rev. Dr. Bernard Wilson of Norfield Congregational Church (April 12).

A perspective on the musical’s mental health themes will be presented by Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, on April 19. He discusses how to live with and help people coping with mental illness

Resources for those living with mental illness will be explored by Linda Autore, CEO of Laurel House, on April 22.

Click here for more information on “Next to Normal.”

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Caravan of Thieves — the gypsy jazz/acoustic guitar/upright bass/violin/ mesmerizing harmony group, including Staples High grad Dan Asher — brings its magic to the Unitarian Church’s Voices Café this Saturday (April 9, 8 p.m., in-person and livestreamed).

The press release calls Caravan of Thieves “theatrical, humorous and intense … (they) defy classification, and music loving fans may feel compelled to join the band in momentary fits of claps, snaps and sing-alongs.

Voices Café and Caravan of Thieves share a commitment to social justice. A portion of the concert proceeds benefit community organizations under the Unitarian Church in Westport’s social justice programs, including anti-racism, identity and equity, immigration and refugee efforts, and local programs that serve under-resourced communities.

Groups of 4 or more can reserve table space. For more information and tickets, click here.

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It’s baaaaaaaaack!

One of our town’s most beloved — and ephemeral — signs of spring has returned, right (or slightly ahead of) schedule.

The “Daffodil Mile” (measured liberally) is again in bloom, alongside Main Street in front of Willowbrook Cemetery.

It’s one of our favorite “Westport … Naturally” sights.

Given the state of the world, it’s more treasured today than ever.

(Photo/Arlene Yolles)

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And finally … in honor of the “Westport … Naturally” photo above:

 

 

6 responses to “Roundup: Memorial Day Parade, Bright Lights, Knotweed …

  1. Two thumbs up on the selection of Jean Wells as the grand marshal. What a fascinating backstory.

    Also, since the Knicks won’t be in the playoffs, I know I will have no possible conflict with the Mark Shapiro event (so I just signed up for the online registration; wish I could see it in person).

    Finally, I love your choice for this week’s Unsung Hero. What incredible talent.

  2. Wendy Crowther

    Everyone should try to watch the ALT’s knotweed and invasive plants presentation, including our Parks & Recreation Department. Knotweed and all of the other invasive plants mentioned above are everywhere in Westport including our town parks. One plant that is not mentioned above is Mile-a-Minute Vine. Sections of Baron’s South were choking under it last fall. The town needs to establish an invasive plant eradication plan for its parks. Homeowners can also help by controlling these invasive plants in their own yards.

    • UConn has a Mile-a-Minute tracking page set up:
      https://mam.uconn.edu/#

    • Well said, Wendy. Winslow Park is being systematically colonized by Japanese Knotweed. It’s especially frustrating since this was brought to the attention of Parks & Rec years ago via a site visit. The department was even handed considerable information on how to combat the weed – which smothers native plants and anything else in its way. The response from the people we pay very well to maintain our parks? Thinly veiled disinterest. Meanwhile, with each passing year, the scope and cost of the Knotweed remediation job in Winslow rises. The Marpe administration viewed our parks with a kind of detached indifference. It remains to be seen whether or not the new administration will insist on better environmental stewardship when it comes to our public open spaces.

    • Werner Liepolt

      Parks and Rec and Public Works should take a lesson from Sherwood Island. Two state workers have cleared many acres of invasive plants in the last month. I witnessed much of the progress on my daily walk. And I didn’t hear a gas powered leaf blower once.

  3. BTW the “Daffodil Mile” runs throughout the cemetery. Without a drone taking an aerial view, I couldn’t show it all. It well may be close to a mile!

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