For decades, the pedestrian tunnel between Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza was — well, not exactly what you’d expect in a downtown like Westport.
While not as scary as the one in “A Clockwork Orange” — where Alex performs “a bit of the old ultraviolence” — it was poorly lit, dirty and dank.
In 2015 it was reborn as the “Tunnel of Love & Community” (abbreviated of course as TLC). Miggs Burroughs’ 16 stunning lenticular images show Westporters connecting with each other. Each changes, depending on the angle you view them from.
The passageway is now bright and alluring. It’s (almost) a tourist attraction.
But for 20 years in between — from 1995 to 2015 — a mural hung in the tunnel.
Created by Westport children to celebrate the first “Westport Weston First Night,” it was a colorful portrayal of downtown.
It wasn’t great art. But it was fun, big, and ours.
The mural lasted 20 years. First Night — the New Year’s Eve family-friendly, non-alcohol celebration with music, fireworks, ice sculptures and much, much more — lasted a bit longer: until 2017.
Its demise — years after many similar events across the country faded — was due largely to a lack of volunteers, and decreasing attendance.
In the 5 years since, Westport has welcomed an influx of new, young families. Downtown too has seen a renaissance.
Perhaps next year we can revive First Night.
With, maybe, a kickoff event in the Tunnel of Love & Community.