Roundup: Westoberfest, Roy Wood Jr., Flooding …

Sure, it was a wet Saturday.

But a little rain can’t keep a good Westoberfest down.

The annual Westport Downtown Association event went on yesterday, with the usual beer, music, beer, kids activities, and beer.

We’ll drink to that!

(All photos/Susan Garment)


Also last night: The annual “Stand up for Homes with Hope” benefit.

A full crowd packed Fairfield University’s Quick Center to laugh uproariously with Roy Wood Jr., and raise much-needed funds for Westport’s supportive shelter and food pantry non-profit.

Laughter and homelessness don’t often go together. But the star of the night — and Helen McAlinden and the many board and staff members who make Homes with Hope a local treasure — made sure attendees understood that connections between all of us are the most important thing in life.

Roy Wood Jr. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)


Flooding is a major issue in Westport. As climate change worsens, it too will became even more prevalent.

The Flood & Erosion Control Board meets November 1. On the agenda:

  • Prioritize and assist the Department of Public Works in the approval and implementation of flood related projects involving watersheds in Westport.
  • Work with the Representative Town Meeting to revise regulations, allowing the board to review large projects if required, and educate the RTM about public input related to flooding.
  • Dedicate a minimum of 2 public discussion meetings per year to discuss updates on flood projects.
  • Develop and implement a campaign to help educate the public about flood and erosion issues in Westport.
  • Develop and implement a plan to educate the community on ways to help mitigate the impact of flooding and erosion on private and public properties.
  • Advocate for supporting the town mitigation efforts by sharing the board’s perspective with the Board of Finance, state legislative leaders, and Department of Energy & Environmental Protection officials.

The meeting will be held virtually. Click here for the Zoom link. The meeting ID is 892 4707 8896; the passcode is 900470.

Grove Point flooding, from a December storm. (Photo/John Kantor)


Saranda and Al Strazza are very involved with Veterans of Foreign Wars Joseph J. Clinton Post 399. Al — a retired combat Marine who served in the first Gulf War — is now vice commander of the local VFW. Saranda helped obtain a $100,000 gift, to pay for river dredging in the area.

This Friday (October 20, 6 p.m.), the VFW hosts a Chili Cook-off. The participation fee is $15. Funds raised will benefit Westport’s Police and Fire Departments, and Emergency Medical Services.

There are prizes, a 50/50 raffle — and of course chili.

While participating in the Citizen Police Academy, Saranda and Al were surprised to learn that the local K-9 unit is completely funded by donations.

They vowed to help raise funds for a new bite jacket, medical costs, food, equipment supplies and training toys.

A booth at the Chili Cook-off will sell plush toys for sale, and collect donations.

For more information, call 203-227-6796, or email

Westport’s K-9 corps.


October is both Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Fire Safety Month.

So — of course! — on Friday the Westport Fire Department brought fire trucks and pink fire boots to Kings Highway Elementary school, for an all-school event.

Fire Marshal Terry Dunn spoke to students about fire safety. Meanwhile, his fellow firefighters collected donations from students for the American Cancer Society. Students filled the pink boots with more than $475.

After listening to the fire safety speech, students, teachers and administrators explored a vintage fire truck. ‘

They also placed pink ribbons in the back of the school, as a symbol of support for those impacted by breast cancer.

Kings Highway Elementary School administrators, in a vintage fire truck. From front to back: principal Tracey Carbone, assistant principals Catherine Carmona and Jame’el Lawrence.


Also on Friday, the Norwalk Housing Authority brought students to the Westport Community Gardens for after-school art enrichment.

Creativity “bloomed,” as NHS and WCG adults watched with pride.

Friday fun, in the Westport Community Gardens.


The Westport Woman’s Club’s annual Clothing Tag Sale runs this Friday and Saturday (October 20-21) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday (October 22) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the WWC’s historic clubhouse (44 Imperial Avenue).

Gently used women’s, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories are featured, with a wide variety of suits, dresses, pants, blouses, gowns, coats, scarves, shoes, jewelry, handbags and hats.

Funds raised help support the town’s food closet, many charities throughout Fairfield County, and student scholarships.


Rolling Stone magazine just listed their 250 best guitarists of all time.

There at #7 — behind Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Jeff Beck and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, but ahead of artists like BB King and Duane Allman — is Westport’s own Nile Rodgers.

The story begins:

There’s “influential,” then there’s “massively influential,” then there’s Nile Rodgers. The story of pop music over the past 50 years is basically the story of Rodgers’ guitar.

The manic-staccato funk jangle he invented with Chic, in Seventies disco hits like “Le Freak” and “Good Times” — that’s been the heartbeat of global pop ever since.

His warp-speed guitar on the 1980 Diana Ross classic “I’m Coming Out” was still the toughest sound on the radio almost two decades later, when Biggie turned it into “Mo Money Mo Problems.” Now that’s staying power.

Click here for the full story.

PS: Weston’s own Keith Richards checks in at #15.

Should we start calling our 2 towns the Guitarists’ Capital of the World?

(Hat tip: Mark Mathias)

Nile Rodgers, at the Queen’s Jubilee. (Photo/Ellen Wentworth)


Jack Backiel is a frequent commenter on “06880.” He no longer lives here, but he has fond memories of the years his family owned Westport Lanes — the bowling alley located where BevMax is today.

Jack’s son John recently added a small display about the Lanes in his dining room. It includes newspaper clippings, stationery, and a photo of opening day (with professional bowlers, sent by Brunswick).

John lives in the Washington area, and is vice president of finance and accounting at the Heritage Foundation.


High on the cell tower behind Walgreens, Johanna Keyser Rossi counted 20 turkey vultures. And a few crows.

It takes an eagle eye to sport them. But they’re all part of “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


And finally … let’s hear it for our neighbor Nile Rodgers, the 7th greatest guitarist in the world! (See story above …)

(From floods and the Fire Department to Nile Rodgers and Keith Richards, we’ve got 06880 [and 06883] covered. Please click here to support local journalism. Thank you!)

3 responses to “Roundup: Westoberfest, Roy Wood Jr., Flooding …

  1. Robert M Gerrity

    One Saturday morning (likely a b’day party circa 1962-1964), I look up to my left and who’s getting in his solo stretching exercise by bowling but John Hershey. Huh. Authors get out and bowl, too.

  2. I remember John Hersey very well. He had a unique bowling ball too that had black and white swirls. And who can forget Candid Camera in 1961.

  3. Shout out to 06880’s #1 fan and faithful reader, Jack Backiel.
    Although no longer a “Townie” geographically, his family’s long roots in the Westport farming community and the iconic Westport Lanes keep the Westport connection strong.

    Although Jack is retired now, his avid readership of 06880 and career as a teacher combined, serve to encourage his regular comments.

    Here’s hoping he can join us again for the 06880 celebration in 2024.

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