Category Archives: Beach

Roundup: MyTeamTriumph; Old Mill; Mr. Woods’ History; More


COVID has hit MyTeam Triumph hard. The great program pairs children, teens and adults with disabilities (“captains”) with volunteers (“angels”) who help them participate in triathlons and road races. But close physical contact during the crisis is forbidden.

So the Westport chapter has created a new event. On Sunday, July 12, at any time between 4 and 5 p.m. captains are invited to the Charles Street railroad station parking lot across from Mystic Market.

They, their families and caregivers can drive, walk or run through the lot. MyTeam Triumph angels will line both sides, honking and cheering — and remaining socially distant.

There’s a special gift for captains too, at the end.

For more information, click here or email tehrlich@myTeamTriumph-ct.org.


The newest beach beautification project is a joint effort between Parks & Rec, and local residents.

Old Mill neighbors LaVonne and Lynn Kramer (shown with grandson Cooper) and the town teamed up to add flowers at the Old Mill Beach entrance. They’ll maintain them together too.


North Woods graduated from Staples High School in 2015, then from Indiana University 4 years later with an honors degree in history.

That doesn’t always pay the bills. So — with a minor in French, and a longtime passion for the culture — he landed a teaching position with France’s Ministry of Education.

He spent the last 9 months teaching in Le Puy en Veley. While waiting out the pandemic there, he started listening to podcasts.

North loves both history and talking. So he created a podcast: “Mr. Woods’ History 101.”

He’s recorded 12 episodes so far. Topics range from the Tour de France and American flag to Nazi uniforms. The most recent topic: the Statue of Liberty.

Click here to listen.

North Woods


And finally … what goes up must come down. That includes the number of COVID cases, for sure. Wear your mask!

Lifeguards Return To Beaches Tomorrow

It took a few weeks longer than usual.

But this morning, lifeguard chairs were back at Compo Beach.

(Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

Soon — in a scene very familiar to former Compo guard Kathie Motes Bennewitz, who watched with joy and gratitude — training took place.

The only difference between now and years past was the face masks.

(Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

(Photo/Karen Como)

Starting tomorrow (Wednesday, July 1), lifeguards will staff Compo and Burying Hill beaches from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Everyone into the water!

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

Pics Of The Day #1169

One jetty fishing photo … (Photo/Roseann Spengler)

… and another (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Meanwhile, here’s a more crowded scene not far away, yesterday morning at Compo (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Beach Access Back In The News

Westport has made the New York Times again.

This time, it’s in an opinion column by Andrew W. Kahrl. He’s a professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Virginia, and the author of “Free the Beaches: The Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America’s Most Exclusive Shoreline.

But his reference to our town is not from the 1960s and ’70s, when Greenwich and other suburban towns famously excluded non-residents from their shores.

Writing yesterday in a piece titled “Who Will Get to Swim This Summer?” — with the subhead “History is repeating itself as pools, beaches and clubs open — but mostly for the privileged few” — he says:

In the summer of 1929, residents of the town of Westport along Connecticut’s Gold Coast reported a “new menace” threatening the health and safety of their community: New Yorkers fleeing the squalid, scorching city and flocking to a new state beach located on neighboring Sherwood Island. Because it was state-owned land, all the residents could do, one reporter noted, was “to make access as difficult as possible.” Which they did.

Westport officials hired a contractor to dredge a creek and flood the road connecting the state beach to the mainland. The move, one state official said, “will effectively prevent visitors from reaching the state property.” Westport officials insisted that they were simply seeking to eliminate a mosquito breeding ground — but as another state official remarked, “the real object is to keep the people off state property.”

Shewood Island State Park: 232 acres of prime real estate, right here in Westport.

The people in question were the “unwashed masses” from neighboring cities: the blacks, Jews, Italians and others denied membership to country clubs, who had few options for summertime relief. As America slipped deeper into the Great Depression, the nation’s swelling homeless population was added to the list. A state park, one resident decried, “would be an invitation to the scum.” Sherwood Island, another bemoaned, “looks like a gypsy camp and new tents are being erected every day.”

While Westport’s residents privately fumed over the park’s impact on the area’s property values, in public hearings they claimed to be concerned solely about the park’s purportedly unsanitary conditions. It was no coincidence that during these same years, several towns along Connecticut’s Gold Coast first adopted ordinances restricting access to town beaches and other places of outdoor recreation to residents only.

Westport has followed the lead of many municipalities in the tri-state area in banning out-of-towners — wherever they live — from parking at local beaches.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Kahrl concludes:

Public health experts agree that so long as people take precautions, outdoor activities are not only safe but also necessary for coping with the stress of the pandemic. But the exclusionary tactics of privileged communities and cost-cutting measures of underresourced ones this summer will force many Americans to suffer inside or seek out unsupervised, potentially dangerous bodies of water to cool off. And it’s not hard to imagine that pools and beaches with restricted access could become flash points of conflict with law enforcement officials, endangering black and brown youth.

It’s simple, really. Our ability to find relief from the heat, and to enjoy time outdoors this summer, should not be determined by where we live and the social and economic advantages we enjoy.

(To read the full New York Times column, click here.)

Pics Of The Day #1168

Flower power at Compo Beach … (Photo/Lee Scharfstein)

… and Saugatuck Shores (Photo/Les Dinkin)

Stormy Weather

It’s been a while since we saw the heavy rains and heard the thunder we got this weekend.

Late this afternoon, storm clouds rolled in …

(Photo/Sophie Pollmann)

(Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

… and after the much-needed downpour, the skies cleared. Then we saw this.

Schlaet’s Point (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Staples High School. (Photo/Jennifer Kobetitsch)

Roundup: Sea Kayak; Scream; Piping Plovers; More


When DownUnder went down under last fall, Saugatuck lost a special business. And recreation-seekers lost a Riverside (Avenue and description) site for kayak and paddle board rentals.

The space has been filled. The new tenant is … Sea Kayak Connecticut.

After 10 years in Wilton — using trailers to serve the state launch site across the river under I-95, as well as a state pond — owner David McPherson has moved to the visible and very active spot next to Saugatuck Sweets.

Sea Kayak offers rentals (single and double kayaks, stand up paddle boards); gear; instruction — and tours (Saugatuck River and Westport coast, sunset, full moon, and private outings).

Click here for more information.


This weekend’s Remarkable Theater films — “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Caddyshack” — sold out the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

This Thursday (July 2), the pop-up drive-in shifts from comedy to horror. “Scream” hits the big screen.

Parking begins at 7:45 a.m. The pre-show is on at 8:30; the movie starts at sunset (8:45-ish). Tickets go on sale Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

PS: The Remarkable Theater hopes to show 2 more films each week, throughout the summer. That’s contingent on Board of Selectmen approval.


Peter Green reports:

While many residents have enjoyed watching the Compo Beach American oystercatcher chicks grow into juvenile birds, the federally endangered piping plover pair have taken turns sitting on their 3 eggs

Until yesterday! Hatching occurred early in the morning. This is the the first time piping plovers have successfully bred, nested and fledged chicks at Compo Beach.

Visitors should tread carefully. The young chicks — which look like cotton balls with legs — are easy to miss. The tiny birds will forage for food on the beach.

Thanks to the town of Westport for helping Beth Amendola from Audubon Connecticut with this success story.

(Photo/Peter Green)


And finally … Bob Dylan released another album this month. He’s had an astonishing career (and a Nobel Prize to show for it).

But hardly anything compares to this 1963 masterpiece. It’s just as fitting today as 57 years ago — when he sang it with Joan Baez at the memorable August March on Washington, just minutes before Martin Luther King proclaimed “I have a dream …”

There are too many great versions of this song to select just one. So take your pick. Or listen to them all.

 

Photo Challenge #287

Sure, it was easy. But for an early summer, return-to-the-beach-even-if-it’s-not-fully-open Photo Challenge, it was a good one.

Kathy Motes Bennewitz captured an image familiar to generations of kids: the foot wash by the 3 Compo showers, between the concession stand and lifeguard shack. (Click here to see.)

For decades, youngsters have been mesmerized by their ability to block the drain, and create tunnels in the sand on the other side of the boardwalk. It’s a true joy of summer.

And it doesn’t matter if there are no picnic tables, grills, concession stand or even lifeguards this summer. Little boys and girls will still play there, getting as wet and muddy as ever.

Matt Murray, Andrew Colabella, Chip Stephens, Seth Schachter, Rich Stein, Nancy Axthelm, Diane Silfen, Lynn Untermeyer Miller and Lois Himes all knew the spot. Most of them played there as kids too.

Here’s this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/John Karrel)

Roundup: History Museum Stays Closed; MoCA Reopens; Main Street; More


Cultural institutions are reopening around Connecticut. However, the Westport Museum for History and Culture will remain closed.

Executive director Ramin Ganeshram says it’s not because they want to. Instead, she wrote in an email to members, “we have to.”

One reason: the “antique building with small rooms and an aged HVAC system” lacks the air filtration or cross-ventilation needed to host more than 1 or 2 visitor at a time.

In addition, a “major structural failure in the center of the building that was left unaddressed for many years and exacerbated by aspects of the way the building was used” will take “a lot of time and a lot of financial resources to ultimately fix.”

However, Ganeshram said, the COVID closure has allowed staff to “fix both the structural failure and work to save collections and archives that had not been properly assessed, catalogued or preserved for many decades.”


MoCA Westport is reopening. The big day is Wednesday (July 8).

In anticipation, they’ve released a short film showcasing the current exhibition: “Helmut Lang: 41.1595° N, 73.3882° W.”

The video from Douglas Tirola and 4th Row Films offers a first-person experience of walking through the exhibition, and provides background on Lang’s inspiration for the works. Click below to see.


Last night was gorgeous. The temperature was just right. It was Friday — the start of the weekend.

It was the perfect night for a picnic, meeting friends, or sunset watching at Compo Beach. It hardly mattered that there are no grills or picnic tables, and the concession stand is closed.

Nearly everyone heeded the social distancing signs. Many wore masks. And nearly everyone seemed grateful to be outdoors, with other people, again.

(Photo/Dan Woog)


The Main Street planters are all in place. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association project was created to provide more room for shoppers.

This was the scene yesterday morning. Come on down — there’s plenty of space!


Speaking of flowers: This week’s Westport Garden Club #Friday Flowers decorations are at Nevada Hitchcock Park *the corner of Cross Highway and Weston Road).

Two great factoids: The park honors Hitchcock, a founding member of the club. And the flowers — from the gardens of Andi Turner, Janice Yost and Topsy Siderowf — are pollinators. This is National Pollinator Week.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)


Meanwhile, the Pop’TArt gallery downtown had a low-key opening last night for its new “Scheherezade: The Shapes of Stories” sculpture exhibition. It will be up for the next month.

It’s outdoors — to the delight of at least one young, budding art lover.


When COVID forced shutdowns and program closures, STAR went to work.

For the past 68 years, the organization has provided services and support to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.

During the pandemic. STAR’s 45-minute Zoom classes kept clients and their loved ones connected and involved.

Westport participants have included Yvonne O’Kane, who taught cupcake decorating; artist Miggs Burroughs, State Senator Will Haskell, and Wakeman Town Farm. There’s been live music too, along with virtual dance parties.

Kudos to STAR, for this innovative, important programming — and to all who help make it work. Click here for more information.


And finally … Happy jUNe Day!

Clergy Association: No Compo Services This Summer

The Westport/Weston Clergy Association writes:

We express our gratitude to the wider community for the collective efforts to keep one another safe and prevent further spread of the doronavirus, and for all the kindness, patience and creativity that’s been expressed in response to the pandemic.

Each house of worship is developing its own plan for moving forward. The members of the Clergy Association share a commitment to move at a measured pace, protect and defend our most vulnerable populations and avoid further burdening our health care system. We are guided by faith traditions that call us to care for neighbors, to love and not to harm, and to save lives.

We are further committed to making decisions that are informed by science and by recommendations made by the governor, our town leaders, and by other authorities that govern our respective faiths and denominations.

We know that in-person, indoor worship is one of the types of gatherings most likely to spread the infection. For this reason, many of our houses of worship have already decided not to gather for indoor, in-person worship this summer.

This does not mean that our synagogues and churches are closed. Every community of faith has found creative ways to stay connected. We all strive to remain spiritually close, even while physically distant.

Each summer, our synagogues and churches look forward to the Westport tradition of worship on Compo Beach. While the governor’s guidelines have made exceptions for houses of worship that might have permitted us to gather, we have collectively decided to suspend Friday evening and Sunday morning worship at Compo.

Friday night Shabbat service at Compo Beach … (Photo courtesy of Temple Israel)

While disappointed, we came to the conclusion that we cannot reasonably hold an event that is open to the general public and typically draws more than 100 worshipers, while also adhering to state guidelines and our own commitment to keep the community safe.

Instead, several of our congregations are exploring ways to gather outside in safe, physically distant, and more controlled settings this summer.

We invite you to visit our individual websites to find all the opportunities for virtual worship, small group gatherings, outdoor services, and social action opportunities.

With blessings for health, safety, and spiritual connectedness,

The Westport/Weston Clergy Association

… and a Sunday morning service. (Photo courtesy of Saugatuck Congregational Church)