Roundup: Wreaths, War, WPD Toys …

Each Christmas season, the Wreaths Across America program honors fallen servicemembers, and all who serve. Over 2 million volunteers take part, in all 50 states and overseas.

This year, for the first time, Westport joins in.

The date is December 17. The time is noon. The cemetery is Assumption, on Greens Farms Road.

It wouldn’t have happened without Patty Kondub. The popular Westport Family YMCA and Senior Center (and Staples High School girls golf coach) is the local coordinator.

As part of her many other Westport activities, she’s also vice president of the VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 Auxiliary.

Click here to sponsor a wreath (the deadline is November 29). To designate a wreath for a specific veteran at the Assumption cemetery, email Patty: nortonpk@aol.com. You can also email her to volunteer to mark graves before December 17, and place them on that date

For Patty, the project is personal. Her father — John Kondub — was a World War II Marine, and VFW Post 399 member. He earned a Purple Heart, for hand-to-hand combat in the Japanese Islands.

He is buried at Assumption Greens Farms Cemetery — almost across from the farm where he was born, before I-95 was built.

“There are over 200 veterans buried in this cemetery,” Patty says. “I hope they all get wreaths.”

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Liz and Richard are true heroes.

She’s from Florida, and speaks 5 languages. He’s a German attorney. They met and formed a group that braves drones and missiles to drive desperately needed supplies to the front lines in Ukraine. Their supplies include water filtration systems and wood burning stoves for civilians, who are starving and bracing for a cold winter.

In Ukraine they met Brian Mayer. The Westporter spent several months helping coordinate relief efforts. He also helped fund Liz and Richard’s work.

After several months of non-stop work, the pair needed a rest. Brian invited them to Westport, for a few days of R&R.

On Monday they met with 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Ken Bernhard, another Westporter deeply involved in humanitarian aid.

Liz and Richard were taking a breather. But they did not stop working. The group discussed how Westport can be even more helpful in the global fight against Russian aggression.

(From left): Richard, Brian Mayer, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Liz and Ken Bernhard discuss how Westport can aid Ukraine.

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One of Westport’s favorite toy drives takes place soon.

The Police Department Benevolent Association and Westport Police Athletic League will again collect gifts for underprivileged children in Fairfield County.

Officers will accept new, unopened and unwrapped toys — plus cash donations — in the ASF Sports & Outdoors parking lot (1560 Post Road East), on Saturday and Sunday, December 3-4 and 10-11, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Toy collection boxes will also be available at:

  • Westport Police Department, 50 Jesup Road
  • ASF Sports & Outdoors, 1560 Post Road East
  • PAL ice rink, Longshore
  • Awesome Toys & Gifts, 429 Post Road East
  • The Toy Post, 180 Post Road East.

Questions? Contact Officer Craig Bergamo: 203-341-6000; cbergamo@Westportct.gov.

Westport Police accept toy donations at ASF.

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Speaking of police: As they do every year just before Thanksgiving, dozens of Staples High School students dodged cops.

The teenagers and officers had a ball.

The event was the annual Dodge-a-Cop dodgeball tournament. Each team of students included at least one member of the Westport force.

They hurled dodgeballs at each other. They protected their teammates.

The event — sponsored by the Westport Youth Commission and Staples’ Teen Awareness Group — was for a great cause. Entry fees supported the Toys for Tots holiday drive.

Staples school resource officer Ed Woolridge (back row, white shirt, blue headband) was on the winning Dodge-a-Cop team. The winners posed with Andrew Colabella — longtime Dodge-a-Cop referee, former Youth Commission member, and current RTM member. (far right).

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The poster evokes the Roaring ’20s:

That’s appropriate. Longshore — the site of this Saturday night’s first-ever Café Noir — is said to have been the setting for nearby resident (okay, renter) F. Scott Fitzgerald) when he later wrote “The Great Gatsby.”

But the music and vibe will be “classic house, funk and disco” at 9 p.m., when a pair of Westport DJs (self-described “middle-aged British dudes, aka “Bangers and Mash”) host the event at Longshore’s La Plage restaurant.

“We’re looking to introduce a bit of suave and sophistication to the evening,” says Phil White, who is Banger.

Tom Fielding is Mash. He’s also an accomplished house DJ. He founded London’s famed dance club The End back in the late 90s.

White DJed in college, then toured Europe putting on raves. before getting sucked into “the big bad world of global advertising.” (Hey, at least he’s advertising Café Noir well.)

The pair will run their Saturday night events at La Plage through Christmas. In the spring, they’ll take their act out on the terrace.

“So get out,” White urges. “Get your groove on. And dress to impress!”

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Westporter Jen Dennison and her colleague Kelly Gipson (who grew up here) are teachers at the Learning Community Day School on Hillspoint Road.

Recently, their class read “Pearl and Squirrel Give Thanks.” (The plot, if you don’t have a preschooler, is about 2 homeless pets.)

The class talked about people who have no homes, or money for food. They decided to help.

The children took home a letter about donations. In 3 days, they collected a truck full.

“They were so proud,” Kelly reports.

On Tuesday, they brought their donations to Operation Hope in Fairfield.

It’s never too early to learn about giving. Thanks and congratulations — you are a true Learning “Community.”

Giving back, at the Learning Community.

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Given the alleged nature of La Plage at Longshore ( the original millionaires party venue for the Great Gatsby?)…we’re looking to introduce a bit of swarve and sophicats to the evening proceeding and get 06680’s well healed and otherwise housebound cognoscenti to get out and get their groove on!

No shoe? No problem!

Ryan Smith — Bates College’s men’s cross country captain, and a Staples High School running star with the Class of 2019 — lost a shoe in the first mile of the 8K NCAA East Regional Championship, at Bowdoin College.

When his shoe was stepped on, there were 100 runners behind Smith. He could not slow down to fix it, so he kicked it into the woods and kept going.

He finished 11th out of more than 200 runners, helping the Bobcats to 2nd place overall. That helped them qualify for the NCAA Championships, (Hat tip: Brian Strong)

Ryan Smith

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Westport’s founding fathers did not wear t-shirts. And they sure didn’t have mouse pads.

But you can sport a tee (or tank top, sweatshirt or hoodie), wrap yourself in a fleece blanket, drink from a mug or use a mouse pad that commemorates 1835 — the year Westport became its own town.

Those items are part of Finding Westport’s newest offerings. There are 2 lines: the 1835 Collection, and one called Westport Est.

Daniel Nash would be proud.

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The Y’s Men of Westport and Weston took a brisk 5-mile walk Monday — in Manhattan.

The group headed out from Grand Central to the United Nations, Sutton Place, Rockefeller University, Carl Shurz Park and Gracie Mansion.

It was the 7th in their series of New York City explorations. Many Y’s Men spent their careers working there. They seldom had a chance to be tourists, though.

Y’sMen at the New York Daily News building. (Hat tip and photo/Dave Matlow)

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It’s not even Thanksgiving, but the raccoons are scavenging.

Jill Grayson went to fill the back yard bird feeder, and found a skunk. A short time later, these 2 guys appeared.

All creatures, great and small — and smelly — are part of our “Westport … Naturally” world. Happy Thanksgiving1

(Photo/Jill Grayson)

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And finally … Michael Butler, the wealthy financier and producer who brought “Hair” to Broadway in 1968, died earlier this month in a nursing home in California. He was 95.

He was hardly a hippie. But he made his mark on American theater with the “tribal love-rock musical.” Click here for a full obituary.

(“Easy to be hard …” — and easy to support “06880.” Just click here. And thank you!)

2 responses to “Roundup: Wreaths, War, WPD Toys …

  1. Thanks for the wreath info Dan.
    Hope Westporters wreaths flood the cemetery 💕🇺🇸🙏

  2. Tom Duquette, SHS '75

    Thanks Dan for promoting Wreaths Across America. I have been donating to them the past few years and it’s become a Thanksgiving tradition for me. I sponsor wreaths for the CT State Veteran’s Cemetery in Middletown but they have locations throughout the country.

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