Category Archives: Children

Roundup: Homes With Hope, Compo Movies, Finding Westport …

Homes with Hope announces that volunteers are again welcome inside the Gillespie Center community kitchen and food pantry.

Volunteer guidelines have been modified, in accordance with the CDC’s COVID guidelines for shelter settings.

Click here for more more information, and to volunteer.

Volunteers are back at the Gillespie Center. (File photo)

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Free family “Summer Movie Nights” return to Compo Beach.

“Luca” will be screened on Thursday, August 4 (8:15 p.m.). It’s followed by “Soul” on Thursday, August 25 (7:45 p.m.).

The films will be shown on the field near the basketball courts.

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How do you say Westport without saying Westport? Jillian Elder of Finding Westport — the online seller of iconic “Westport” t-shirts, mugs and other goodies — wondered.

The result: Some clever new designs, Click here to see (and order).

One of several new tees.

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Matt Murray is lucky enough to live on Sherwood Mill Pond.

He enjoys photographing the ever-changing scenery — particularly at sunrise and sunset. Here’s a recent egret sighting, for “Westport … Naturally”:

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … 2 cities — worlds apart — celebrate birthdays today

Baghdad was founded in 762. Nearly 1,000 years later, in 1729, so was Baltimore.

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Roundup: Little League Champs, Maccabi Gold, Blind Rhino …

Living in the condos behind the post office, I thought I’d seen ever conceivable kind of bad parking in the Playhouse Square lot.

The combination of poor design and poor drivers is deadly. (So far, thankfully, I don’t mean that literally.)

But this scene from yesterday could be the most jaw-dropping example yet of entitlement.

And I’ve seen hundreds of others.

(Photo/Pam Long)

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Westport’s 11U District All-Star baseball team defeated Glastonbury 14-8 on Wednesday night. That’s the second straight state championship for the team!

Congratulations to Dylan Burdeshaw, Miles Delorier, Henry Ellis, Justin Goldshore, Wyatt Johnson, Christopher Lambert, Chase Landgraf, Jack McGrath, Luke Moneyhon, Torrey Rossetter, Toby Slavin, Grant Theisinger.  Nolan Walters, plus manager Justin Walters and coaches Marc Theisinger and Jon Ellis.

Now it’s on to the regional championship, started Monday in Beverly, Massachusetts. Good luck, guys!

Westport, at the previous section tournament.

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Speaking of sports: Oscar Edelman is a gold medalist.

The rising Greens Farms Academy senior just returned from Israel. He represented the US in the Maccabi Games — and his U-18 basketball team finished first.

Over 60 countries compete in the Maccabi Games — sometimes called “the Jewish Olympics. More than 600 players, from across the US, tried out for the U-18 hoops team.

Oscar — who stands an imposing 6-7 — was the second youngest on the squad.

The Americans went undefeated. They faced the host Israeli team in the finals — and won, 91-79.

Click here for the full back story, courtesy of GFA.

Oscar Edelman, at the line. (Photo/Bonnie Edelman)

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The CT Challenge Bicycle Ride rolls through here tomorrow (Saturday, July 30). The shorter rides use Beachside Avenue; the longer routes are on Long Lots and surrounding roads.

The heaviest traffic is between 7 and 10 a.m. e of Westport and surrounding towns.

This is an important fundraiser, for a great organization that helps people battling cancer, and survivors. So when you see all those riders tomorrow, slow down! 

Don’t honk. But show your support with a hearty thumbs-up! (Hat tip: Gloria Gouveia)

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Twiddle plays 2 special shows — with Mihali and the Nth Power — today and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday) at the Levitt Pavilion.

Also on the menu: Blind Rhino’s new food truck.

Former Staples High School baseball player/2003 graduate Casey 2 popular restaurants, in Black Rock and SoNo.

Now he’s got a truck too. It will be parked in the Levitt lot, serving wings and more.

Don’t just Twiddle your thumbs. Dig in!

Partners Casey Dohme (left) and Jamie Pantella with their Blind Rhino truck.

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Westport’s latest teardown is 12 Godfrey Lane.

The home off Bulkley Avenue North was more than 50 years old. The Westport Historic District Commission waived the waiting period, and the Conservation Department okayed a new larger build.

All that remains are the Bilco doors.

12 Godfrey Lane.

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It’s been a while since we ran a cat photo, for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

Michael Catarevas says: “At Costco, we get free cardboard boxes to carry stuff. We put them on the floor the other day before taking them to the car to reuse, but they were taken over.”

Smart cats, for sure!

(Photo/Michael Catarevas)

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And finally … in honor of Michael “Cat”arevas’ photo (above):

(If you donate to “06880,” I promise I’ll never again post this song. Please click here to help!)

Your Kids Are At Camp. They’re Fine. Are You?

A Westport girl wrote her parents from sleepaway camp.

“I love camp so far,” she said. “I’m having conflicts with a bunkmate. I’m playing so much soccer and basketball. It’s great!”

The mother’s reaction: Anxiety, misery and sadness.

She focused on the second line. But it was sandwiched in between other, much more positive comments.

More importantly: Conflicts are a normal part of growing up. They’re how we learn to navigate the world. And there’s no better place to learn those lessons than independently, at camp, away from parental interference.

Plus this: The girl did not ask her mother to help.

“Trust her,” Tracy Brenner says. “She loves camp.”

Dr. Tracy Brenner

Tracy knows. A former camper and counselor — and daughter of a camp director — she’s also a licensed psychologist, in private practice here.

She knows the value of sleepaway camp for kids. She knows youngsters thrive there.

And she knows — particularly in these days of instant access to all kinds of information — that parents worry constantly that they won’t.

“Camp is a bubble,” Dr. Brenner says — a place far different from home, with all its distractions and expectations (and technology). Parents send their children to that bubble because they want them to grow, mature, make friends and memories, and be happy.

Those are great reasons for children to go to camp. But, Tracy notes, there may be people there they don’t like. Activities they don’t care for. Food that isn’t fantastic.

So that bubble is just like real life.

“Whether you send your kid to camp for 7 weeks or 3 weeks, think about yourself,” Dr. Brenner advises.

“When in your life have you been consistently happy for 7 weeks, or even 3?” she asks rhetorically.

“It doesn’t happen. Kids can’t be happy all the time either. That’s okay!”

Kids are usually happy at camp. But 100% of the time is impossible — for anyone, anywhere.

One of the magic parts of the camp experience, she emphasizes, is that boys and girls learn to solve those less-than-perfect parts of life on their own.

Back in the day, parents worried — and sometimes read between the lines — only when they got a letter from their child.

Now — with daily photos on camp websites, group chats with bunkmates’ parents, and a general heightened anxiety over children’s safety, coupled with societal pressures to ease every bump in a youngster’s journey — the opportunities to worry are exponentially greater.

If a child writes “I miss you,” Tracy says, the instinct today is to call the camp director, to make sure the child is okay.

Slow down, the psychologist advises.

“It’s okay for kids to miss parents,” she says. “They love you.”

If a child calls home and cries on the phone, that’s natural too: “They haven’t heard your voice in a while.”

And, Tracy continues, remember why you chose that particular camp: You liked the director, the staff, the activities, the values.

Trust that decision.

Like many camp directors, Laurel’s Jem Sollinger knows and cares for every camper.

(There may be something else going on, Dr. Brenner adds. “Maybe those photos bring up a parent’s anxieties about their own friendships.”)

“Your child is learning to experience the full range of emotions without you  there,” she repeats. “That’s a good thing. And it’s why you sent them to camp.”

The psychologist offers a few steps to help parents manage their anxiety.

First, “notice and name your emotion. Say to yourself (or out loud): ‘I’m worried my child may be unhappy.'”

Next, “have compassion for your feeling.” That means: “My child is away from home. It’s okay to worry.”

After that, Tracy advises, “Slow down. Step back. Look at the context.” For example, letters are written during “down time” — not when kids are out playing, swimming or canoeing.

Then, she says, “Remind yourself: If something is really wrong, the director will call.”

But, she adds, the director should be able to spend most of his or her time outside, with kids” — finding out if something is wrong — rather than replying to frantic emails and texts because in one photo, a child stands apart from his group, or is not linked arm in arm like the other girls.

Dr. Brenner has one final thought: “It’s a privilege and a luxury to send a child to camp — and to have those worries.”

Just as it is a privilege and a luxury to have a psychologist like her to explain how to let those worries go.

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3, 4 Close The Door

Like many Westporters, Jordan and Karen Schur were happy to join the 3, 4 Open the Door family.

The Wilton Road preschool had a great reputation. Since opening in 1994, owner Cyndi Zeoli created a warm, welcoming environment, with a creative curriculum, low student/teacher ratios, and a stable, caring staff.

The Schurs’ son and daughter were happy. Jordan spread the word; several friends enrolled their own kids there.

3, 4 Open the Door (Photo courtesy of Yelp)

On May 12, Zeoli invited every family to an important meeting 4 days later. Quickly, she moved it up, to 6 p.m. the next day.

Families that could not attend in person logged on virtually that Friday. Zeoli told them that the school had been sold to Chabad of Westport, next door on Newtown Turnpike. The sale would close July 1.

The last day would be June 3 — 3 weeks away. She agreed, however, to remain open 2 weeks beyond that — though only until 4 p.m., 90 minutes earlier than the usual 5:30 closing.

Parents were upset — and angry. The contracts they had signed with the school required 60 days’ notice before withdrawal. Zeoli gave them just over half that — at a time when nearly every preschool had already enrolled students for the coming year.

Many parents were counting on 3, 4’s summer program for their youngsters. Suddenly, they scrambled to make plans.

One parent said that Zeoli had lied just days earlier, responding to questions about spots for the upcoming fall.

Others — who had paid in advance for a a full year — said she had taken their money, despite knowing that the school would close.

Zeoli circulated a list of preschools in the area. Unlike 3, 4 Open the Door, only one was open all day, like 3,4. Many of those with morning sessions had just one or two openings left.

On Monday, Schur called Chabad. He wanted to se if there was any flexibility for the 30 or 40 families about to lose child care.

Director Dina Kantor was “great,” Schur recalls. He learned a couple of interesting things.

Chabad did not need the building until the end of August — not immediately, as Zeoli implied.

And Chabad had a couple of empty classrooms. Perhaps the preschool could use them during the summer.

Schur also broached the subject of Chabad renting back the Wilton Road facility to 3, 4, for use until September.

Chabad of Westport — formerly the Three Bears Inn.

He emailed what he’d learned to a 3,4 teacher. The staff too was scrambling, for employment.

The next day, Zeoli’s son Robert — the business manager — emailed Schur. He said:

It has come to my attention that you spoke to the Chabad regarding the sale of the school and the timing if [sic] its closure. We have no intention of changing the closing date of 3, 4 beyond June 17th.

If you want to speak to the synagogue about enrolling your kids in their program, that is your business, but do not involve us, the other parents at 3,4, or our staff in any way.

If you want to pursue this further, I suggest you speak to our attorney.

The final 3 weeks were difficult. Zeoli removed playground apparatus, and many toys (yet still charged full price).

She did not allow parents to attend “graduation,” saying, “one of our fathers has stirred up a tremendous amount of animosity amongst the parents. I can’t selectively tell parents to attend so as a consequence no Parents are invited to attend.”

A mother arranged for an ice cream truck on the final day, so families could be together one last time. Zeoli allowed the gathering, but said it had no connection to 3,4 Open the Door.

The truck got stuck in traffic, and never arrived. Parents trooped across Wilton Road to the Country Store, and bought popsicles for the kids.

“That sort of sums up the end of the year,” Schur says.

For nearly 30 years, 3, 4 Open the Door operated on Wilton road.

He knows kids are resilient. He knows too that he and his wife are fortunate to have secured spots at Old Hill School, which opened their doors to families needing coverage, and teachers needing jobs. Create in Wilton did the same.

Schur has moved on, from anger to sorrow.

“3, 4 was a Westport institution for 25 years,” he says. “This should have been a fond farewell, sending Cyndi into a well-earned retirement. She took care of kids for all those years.

“Instead, to me, she ignored 30 or 40 families at the end. She left a stain on her legacy.”

(Cyndi Zeoli did not respond to a request for comment.)

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[OPINION] Bikers: Wear Helmets!

A concerned “06880” reader writes:

I am fortunate to live near the beach. Houses are very close to each other. Kids have freedom to take a bike ride, and test their independence. They travel to friends’ houses on their own, and hang out at the beach. Or maybe they just go outside and pedal the day away.

I applaud kids for putting down their phones and getting some exercise. However, I am alarmed at the number of them I see riding without helmets.

I know the joy of riding your bicycle with the wind running through your hair. I know that helmets are a drag and can ruin the best style, leaving your with dreaded helmet hair. I know the feeling of a sticky, sweaty, uncomfortable forehead.

But I also know the danger that can arise from a bicycle accident. Whether it is slipping on sand or gravel, getting struck by a car or hitting a pothole and going splat on the pavement, outdoor bike riding has its pitfalls.

I implore kids and their parents to please put on a helmet — and make sure they stay on. Once a child is out of their parents’ sight, kids may be tempted to take off the helmet and let it hang from the handlebars. I see plenty of that.

Helmets should fit snugly, flat on the head, and be fastened properly. There should be no more than 2 fingers’ space between the chin and the helmet strap. Here is a video that shows the proper fit.

Click here for a list of reasons to wear a bicycle helmet. They include protecting your head, face and brain from trauma, increasing visibility, being able to see, and modeling behavior for others.

78% percent of adult cyclists and 88 percent of young riders who suffered head and neck injuries were not wearing helmets.

And if you want a visual, you can even show your kids this video:

 

Now get out there, buckle up — and go for a ride!

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Unsung Hero #245

The woman and her 11-year-old twin daughters walked into the Westport Book Shop.

They’d just moved to town. The girls are avid readers. They especially love history.

One of them spotted the first 5 books of a rare 7-volume biography of George Washington.

Unfortunately, the price — $195 — was too high. Disappointed, they looked for less expensive options.

The George Washington biography. Author Douglas Southall Freeman won a Pulitzer Prize for his work.

Soon after arriving back home, a Book Shop employee called. The books had already been bought, she said …

… “for your daughters.”

There was only one other shopper in the store. One of the girls had explained to her why the biography was so interesting.

After they left, the woman purchased the set for the girls.

And asked to remain anonymous.

Karma is definitely at work here. “We’ve always donated books ourselves,” the mother says. “They need to have a life beyond just one owner.”

The George Washington biography is not easy reading. Each volume is over 500 pages. But the girls have already dived in. When they’re done, they’ll look for the final 2 books in the set.

But that’s not all they’re doing this summer. They wrote a long thank-you note, and asked the Westport Book Shop to send it to their anonymous benefactor.

(Hat tip: Dianne Wildman. If you know a worthy Unsung Hero, email 06880blog@gmail.com)

(Like the Westport Book Shop, “06880” relies on donations. Please click here to help.)

The Westport Book Shop.

Unsung Hero #244

“06880” reader and grateful mom Alia Afshar writes:

I would like to nominate Saugatuck Elementary School 5h grade teacher Valentina Tran for the Unsung Hero award.

Though she is relatively new to teaching, Ms. Tran is extraordinary. She has gone above and beyond for my daughter, and I am sure many other SES students too.

Like many COVID refugees, my daughters and I landed in Westport a year ago. It’s hard being the new kid, especially a girl in 5th grade. Everything was different from her school in Brooklyn.

From Day 1, Ms. Tran took my daughter under her wing. She made sure she always had someone to sit with, eat lunch with, and even ride the bus with on field trips.

During the early spring, Ms. Tran organized a playdate after school for my daughter and a former student (now in 6th grade) who she thought my daughter would click with. This was her first school playdate, so you can imagine what that meant.

Toward the end of this school year, we realized my daughter would miss her moving up ceremony due to a planned trip. She was disappointed, but once again Ms. Tran went the extra mile for her.

She organized a surprise graduation last week with her entire class. She had her own graduation program printed. Classmates sang to her, gave speeches, gave her an award and flowers, even a homemade bracelet.

Valentina Tran, at the special moving up ceremony.

Needless to say, I was in tears. It meant the world to my daughter to feel accepted, part of her 5th grade community, and frankly, special.

Ms. Tran orchestrated all of this brilliantly, on top of all of her end of school year duties and taking great care of 20+ children. I am in awe of her dedication, kindness, thoughtfulness, and willingness to go the extra mile for her students.

We are so lucky to have Ms. Tran in the Westport school system. She is a true hero to my family and I’m sure many others too.

So many Westport educators go the extra mile for their students. Ms. Tran is one of many. But we’re honored to honor her today, as “06880”‘s Unsung Hero.

If you know an Unsung Hero, email 06880blog@gmail.com.

(“06880”  relies on support from readers, to keep our blog — and features like this — going. Please click here to help.)

Roundup: Affordable Housing; Car Thefts, Traffic, Tax …

The Planning and Zoning Commission adopted a 5-year affordable housing plan last night. The bipartisan vote was 5-0, with 2 abstentions.

Highlights include:

Creating a new affordable community designed specifically for families.

• The formation of a town-funded Affordable Housing Trust Fund to direct resources towards future development of affordable housing.

• The immediate development of location specific plans for town-owned land to meaningfully expand and/or renovate existing rental housing/structures to create affordable housing, and potentially partner with nonprofits engaged in this work.

• Allocation of the approximately $1,700,000 in the town’s Real Property Fund to acquire land for future development of affordable housing.

• The deed restriction of existing town-owned rental properties so that they are affordable and remain affordable to renters.

• The adoption of a new zoning district at Powell Place to ensure that existing deeply affordable housing (40% State Median Income or less) can be more intensively redeveloped with flexible parking requirements reflecting the availability of public lots nearby.

There is much more in the 5-year plan. Click here for a full “06880” report.

Part of the 5-year affordable housing plan envisions a “model pocket neighborhood/cottage commons” design. (Courtesy of Ross Chapin AIA)

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You’d think by now everyone would have gotten the message.

Nope. Here’s the latest Groundhog Day news from the Westport Police Department:

On Saturday, several cars were broken into. All were unlocked. Go figure.

This often happens at night. However, these crimes occurred in late afternoon and early evening.

The WPD once again reminds Westporters to lock your cars and bring your keys or fobs inside. And never leave valuables — cash purses, wallets, electronics — in your car.

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The Police Department also offers this advice, for the June 30th fireworks:

Spectators should arrive early. Traffic delays are inevitable.

Compo Beach closes at 4 p.m. Only vehicles with fireworks passes can remain.  Parks & Recreation staff will collect passes. The beach should reopen to ticket holders by 5 p.m.

Vehicles with tickets can access the beach through South Compo Road only. Hillspoint Road south of Greens Farms Road will be open to residents who live south of that intersection.

Firework attendees should display their ticket prominently on the dashboard. It will be collected at the parking gate.

All ticket holders must be inside Compo Beach by 9 p.m.  No beach traffic will be allowed south of the Minute Man monument after that time.

Vehicles without tickets will not be allowed any further toward Compo Beach than the Minute Man.

Uber, Lyft or taxi users will be directed straight past the Minute Man, on Compo Road South. They can be dropped off at Soundview Drive. Return service will not be available until after 11 p.m., due to 1-way traffic leaving the beach.

When the fireworks end, there will be 2 lanes of 1-way traffic only on Compo Beach Road and South Compo, to the intersection of Greens Farms Road. Residents of that area returning from elsewhere should expect a delay of 1 hour or so.

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The fun doesn’t end with the fireworks. On Saturday, July 9, Westport Sunrise Rotary’s Great Duck Race returns. There’s a new location — Jesup Green — but the same family fun.

The day begins with a 10 a.m. Fun Fair in the Westport Library parking lot. Activities include a Nerdy Derby, face painting and bubble machines.

At 1 p.m. on Jesup Green, 3,000 plastic ducks will slide down a 160-foot sluice course. Each wears a number, matching a $20 raffle ticket. The first 10 ducks down the course win money for their ticket holders. First place is $5,000. Second place wins $1,000. The next 8 finishers get $500 each.

The event is a major Sunrise Rotary fundraiser. Proceeds support charitable endeavors in this area, the state and around the world.

Click here for tickets, and to learn more about Sunrise Rotary. 

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When Dick Lowenstein received his 2022-23 tax bill yesterday, he was surprised to see that the gross assessment had risen on his 2 vehicles. The dollar amounts were not huge, but the percentages were: 29% higher for his 2002 Lexus, 11% for his 2014 Honda CRV.

He called tax assessor Paul Friia. The immediate response: Gross assessment is based on standard information provided to the assessor. “Presumably, because of supply shortages, new car production has been delayed. Many people are instead buying used cars, which has driven up their value,” Dick reports.

I wonder what this Maserati will be assessed at next year. (Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

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Yesterday’s rain postponed the Remarkable Theater showing of “Caddyshack.” The new date is Monday, July 11 (8:30 p.m.; gates open at 7:30 p.m.).

Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Our “Westport … Naturally” feature is open to everyone. We run photos of anything “natural” in town: animals, birds, flowers, trees — you name it. If it lives, we want to showcase it.

We are especially interested in images from young readers. Today we welcome 15-year-old Benji Porosoff, who captured this scene:

(Photo/Benji Porosoff)

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And finally … on this day in 1969, the Stonewall riots began in New York. The uprising — sparked by a police raid on the Stonewall Inn gay bar — is considered the start of the LGBTQ rights movement.

Ten years later, Diana Ross commissioned Chic founder (and current Westporter) Nile Rodgers to create material for her new album. One song was inspired after he saw drag queens dressed as Diana Ross at a New York club. It is now considered an anthem of the LGBTQ community.

(“06880” is supported solely by readers. Please click here to contribute.)

Roundup: Shonda Rhimes, Moving Up, Pollinator Pathway …

Shonda Rhimes — the producer/screenwriter/author/global media company CEO/Television Academy Hall of Fame inductee — entertained, inspired and wowed a sold-out crowd at last night’s Westport Library “Booked for the Evening” fundraiser. Actors Tony Goldwyn and Scott Foley were there too.

The leader in both her industry and for women of color, Rhimes is known for telling great stories (check out Netflix!). On stage before an appreciative audience, in a conversation with Vanity Fair editor Rhadika Jones, she spent her evening in Westport doing exactly that.

Shonda Rhimes, at the Westport Library. (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

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This is “Moving Up” week.

Ceremonies are held at Westport’s 2 middle and 5 elementary schools.

Dylan Chatterjee captured this scene yesterday, outside Bedford, where his sister Mia was celebrated. It seems symbolic: 8th graders moving toward the light of Staples High School, both literally and figuratively.

(Photo/Dylan Chatterjee)

Congratulations to all 5th and 8th graders — I mean, rising 6th graders and freshman — all over town!

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Happy Pollinator Week!

To celebrate, Pollinator Pathways organizers in Westport and surrounding towns are showcasing properties — both public and private — where habitat-friendly landscaping is done. They’ll also provide information on how homeowners can create Pollinator Pathway yards of their own.

It’s this Saturday (June 25) at 4 separate Westport sites, all 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Earthplace (3 gardens), Prospect Road (privately owned), Smith-Richardson Wildlife Preserve (2 meadows) and Wakeman Town Farm (a 100-foot pollinator border).

Weston’s Onion Farm tour is also Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Guides and gardeners will be on hand, to answer questions.

Click here, then scroll down to plan your tour. You’ll also see Pollinator Pathway tours throughout Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester Counties.

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 The Westport Public Schools and Westport Weston Family YMCA have teamed up to coordinate child care — before and after school – for youngsters in grades K-5, during the coming school year.

The program includes arts and crafts, STEM activities, themed projects, outdoor and physical activities, homework help and snacks.

Transportation will be provided to and from the elementary schools, and YMCA.

The before-school program runs from 7 to 9 a.m. for Coleytown, Greens Farms, Kings Highway and Long Lots Schools, 7 to 8:30 a.m. for Saugatuck.

The after-school program runs from dismissal until 6 p.m. Students who sign up for any youth programs taking place during after-school care hours — karate, swim lessons, soccer shots, basketball, gymnastics, fencing or dance — will be accompanied to their program by a staff member. There is a separate fee for those programs.

3-, 4 and 5-day signups are available. Click here for more information, and to register.

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Sure, it was 2 days ago. But we can’t resist a good photo. Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the Levitt Pavilion during Sunday’s Michael Franti & Spearhead show:

(Photo/JC Martin)

Encore: Here’s a video of Michael, complete with a shout-out to Westport:

Looking ahead, the Levitt celebrates the final days of Pride Months with 2 performances.

Isle of Klezbos is this Thursday (June 23, 7:30 p.m.). New York magazine says their repertoire ranges from “rambunctious to entrancing: Neo-traditional folk dance, mystical melodies, Yiddish swing & retro tango, late Soviet-era Jewish drinking song, re-grooved standards, and genre-defying originals.”

It’s about time Levitt had some Yiddish swing and late Soviet-era Jewish drinking songs! Click here for (free!) ticket information.

Next week, it’s “Queer + Quiet”: an evening with Treya Lam (Tuesday, June 28, 7 p.m.). They’ll “lift up the underrepresented, quiet, marginalized voices in the BIPOC trans, non-binary, queer community.” Click here for (also free!) ticket information.

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Speaking of Pride: Fairfield County Story Lab opens this Sunday’s Write-In to all LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly writers and creatives — for free.

At 2 p.m. June 26, there’s an hour of socializing. Work on projects follows from 3 to 4:30; then there’s a wrap-up chat.

The Story Lab is a shared workspace, on the 4th floor of Saugatuck’s 21 Charles Street office building. Click here to reserve a spot.

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The June 27 (7 p.m.) Westport Library showing of the award-winning documentary “Four Winters” is noteworthy.

The film tells the story of the 25,000 Jewish partisans who battled the Nazis and their collaborators from the forests of Eastern Europe. The men and women — many in their teens — blew up trains, burned electric stations and attacked enemy headquarters.

But there’s also an important local connection: “Four Winters”‘ writer/producer/director Julia Mintz is a Weston High School graduate.

For more information, click here.

NOTE: “Four Winters” supporters have designed a program for screenings and talkbacks at colleges that don’t have Jewish Studies departments, or funding for Holocaust programming. Click here to donate.

Weston native Julia Mintz, with an interviewee for “Four Winters.”

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Lou Weinberg is the passionate, creative and very hands-on director of the Westport Community Gardens. He knows flowers, trees, grasses and bushes — and birds, bees, rabbits and all other wildlife there.

He’s also a gifted photographer.

Here’s his description of today’s stunning “Westport … Naturally” photo: “This gray catbird is eating a berry from a serviceberry tree. This native tree produces flowers and an abundance of fruit for a multitude of birds this time of year. If you like birds, plant serviceberry trees!”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … because this is the first day of summer:

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A Pretty Fair Night

The first night of the Yankee Doodle Fair — on Thursday — was great.

Kids swarmed the annual event at the Westport Woman’s Club grounds, on Imperial Avenue. It’s a harbinger of summer. It’s old-fashioned. It’s fun.

But last night was off the charts. Perfect weather, the end of school (next week doesn’t really count), and the start of the weekend helped attract record crowds.

Here are a few scenes from the 2022 Yankee Doodle Fair.

Though really, this iconic Westport event is timeless.

For $1 a ticket, take a chance on whichever you prize you want. They range from Neil Diamond 50th anniversary concert gear and an authentic Louisiana alligator head, to tool kits, handbags and gift certificates galore.

What’s a fair without music? (All photos/Gloria Smithson)

The Yankee Doodle Fair continues at 44 Imperial Avenue today (Saturday, now through 10 p.m.) and tomorrow (Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.).

(“06880” is completely reader-supported. Please click here to donate.)