Today’s arresting New York Times Magazine cover photograph is by Pulitzer Prize winning (and 1988 Staples High School graduate Tyler Hicks.
The Contributors’ page explains that the photography for the story — on sharks and Cape Cod — was shot over the course of 3 months. Luckily, it says, both Hicks and the author “are men of the ocean and have plenty of boating experience. They were still at the mercy of nature, with the weather and an unpredictable predator to cover. But they also had technology to deal with. Drone batteries run out very quickly.” (Hat tip: John Karrel)
Rowene Weems attended yesterday’s OAKtober/Halloween celebration on Jesup Green. She reports: “Lots of costumes, young and old. Earthplace brought a snake and a bat. There were 50 pumpkins to decorate. We got an oak tree too!”
The event was sponsored by Westport Book Shop, Earthplace and the Westport Tree Board.
It’s bad enough when traffic for the Starbucks drive-thru backs up on the Post Road, coming from the west (downtown).
But yesterday, this very entitled driver coming from the other direction decided his (or her) Trenti iced coffee, 12 pumps [sugar-free] vanilla, 12 pumps [sugar-free] hazelnut, 12 pumps [sugar-free] caramel, 5 pumps skinny mocha, a splash of soy, coffee to the star on the siren’s head, ice, double-blended drink could not wait.
Hey … why park and go inside, when I can block one lane of traffic on Westport’s main thoroughfare, right? I’m thirsty!
Once upon a time, Halloween was a hallowed — and very neighborly — holiday.
Some kids wore mom-made costumes. Others had store-bought masks. The younger ones went out with parents. But everyone 8-ish or older roamed their road, and one or two nearby, on their own.
They scarfed up as much candy as they could, in an hour or so. A few pennies were collected for UNICEF. Sometimes a pumpkin got smashed, an egg tossed.
Then the arms race began. Costumes grew more elaborate. Parents drove their kids to Westport’s densest neighborhoods,* maximizing the candy-to-ground-covered ratio.
Adults joined in the fun, opening their homes (and liquor cabinets) to friends and srangers chaperoning ever-older trick-or-treaters. With so many parents (and security cameras) around now, kids have no idea how to smash a pumpkin or toss an egg.
Last year, the pandemic threw Halloween for a loop. Would trick-or-treating on crowded streets turn into a super-spreader event? Was it dangerous to grab candy from a communal bowl? Wasn’t everyone sick of wearing masks,, anyway?
Some parents said: Go for it. Kids have lost so much already, let’s not take away Halloween.
Others said: Not this year. COVID before candy.
Which brings us to Halloween 2021. The virus still lurks here. Many in their prime candy-grabbing years have not yet been vaccinated. What’s a parent to do?
Full steam ahead? Only with friends? Sorry — no candy this year, kids?
“06880” wants to know how your family is handling Halloween. Click “Comments” below.
Whatever your choice — and speaking now as an adult, not a youngster — let’s hope it does not involve eggs.
At least, not at my house.
* If you don’t know where, I’m not going to tell you.
Once upon a time, trick-or-treaters (yes, there was a “trick” part besides the “treat”) soaped up windows.
Now they paint them.
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s annual Halloween Window Painting Contest takes place this Saturday (October 23, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
A record number of kids (105) will paint 65 different windows, all around town. They’re vying to win in 3 categories (Scariest, Most Original, and Best Halloween Themed) in 3 divisions (Elementary, Middle and High School). Victors earn rewards, and $25 gift cards from Cold Fusion.
Windows of retailers, offices, the Library and Senior Center answered the call, ensuring that every child who signed up has a window to paint. They’ll work on their own or in teams.
Windows will remain painted through Halloween, so residents can enjoy the artistry. For more information, click here.
Also downtown: The Westport Downtown Association hopes Westporters can help them make this holiday season special. They’re installing a dozen colorful tees throughout the area. Each will be decorated by professional designers, and will be themed to a different local non-profit. The aim is to support their missions during the season of giving.
The WDA seeks donations to help cover the cost of the trees, lights and decorations. Click here for the GoFundMe page, to help reach the $10,000 goal.
Speaking still of movies: After a great opening night, the Westport Library’s Short Cuts Film Festival continues Thursday, November 4 (7 p.m.), with 5 short films curated from the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. The lineup includes narrative and animated films.
Six Nights follows a restaurant dishwasher facing a dilemma; in The Angler, things are not always what they seem; a baby owl struggles in the animated Try to Fly; challenges face a Syrian immigrant in No Longer Suitable for Use; and 3 young children seek a boyfriend for their bus driver in Cupids.
Cupid director and humanitarian aid worker Zoey Martinson will be an in-person guest in the Forum for a discussion after the screenings. At-home viewers can access the talkback via Zoom, and ask questions as well.
An all-documentary program follows on November 18.
All films will be screened on the Forum’s large, hi-def screen.
“Bicycling with Butterflies” (November 1, 6:30 p.m., Zoom). On behalf of Westport’s Pollinator Pathway, and in honor of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos — the day the monarchs traditionally return to their winter sanctuary in Michoacán — Sara Dykman talks about her solo experience biking the 10,000-mile Monarch Butterfly Migration . Click here for more information.
“Don’t Blow It! A Panel Discussion About Leaf Blowers” (November 8, 7 p.m., Wakeman Town Farm). Clear the air about the impact of gas leaf blowers on our bodies and the environment – including the gas leaf blower ordinance being presented to the RTM Click here for more information.
“Holiday Wreath Making” (November 15, 6:30 p.m., Wakeman Town Farm). Chyrse Terill and Ellen Goldman will show how to create wonderful Thanksgiving wreaths, with materials collected from WTF. At the end of the class, take home your work. Click here for more information.
Monarch butterfly in Westport. (Photo/Tammy Barry)
Well, at least the parking lot at 246 Post Road East will be, this Sunday, October 24.
Kids are invited to dress up in Halloween costumes, for the annual Spooky Suzuki Concert & Carnival. The 3 p.m. concert is followed by refreshments, activities and games. Game tickets must be purchased in advance. Click here for more information.
Participants can also donate to the “Color a Positive Thought” fundraiser, for underserved Bridgeport neighborhoods.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15-to-24-year-olds, and the second leading cause of death among college students. Earlier this year Kevin Kuczo, 17, of Fairfield lost his battle with depression. Before playing sports at Fairfield Warde High School, he was a proud member of the Fairfield County Football League’s Wildcats. Westport PAL is a member of the FCFL.
The league wants all youngsters to know that they are not alone during their darkest times — and to instill the importance for athletes to give back.
They’re collecting funds now for suicide prevention research and educational programs. They hope to ease the stigma surrounding suicide and its causes, and encourage those suffering from mental illness to seek treatment.
Donations — made out to FCFL — can be sent to 25 Thistle Road Norwalk, CT 06851. For more information, call Carmen Roda of Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department: 203-640-8085.
The Camp Gallery hosts a special night this Friday (October 22, 6 to 8 p.m., 190 Main Street). The featured artist is German-born Dominik Schmitt; there’s live music too with Chris Coogan and Linda Couturas.
Debby Ury died Sunday at Norwalk Hospital, after a brief illness. She was 68 years old.
She grew up in Danvers, Massachusetts. Debby graduated in 1974 from Simmons College in Boston with a B.S. degree in nursing, then Boston University with a Master’s Degree in education.
She and her husband Frederic Ury moved to Westport in 1977. She began working at Danbury Hospital. She had a long career in the medical field, and ended her career teaching various medical courses at Norwalk Community College.
Debby was an avid fan of any sports team from Boston, and enjoyed watching her beloved Boston Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots play every year, whether they won or lost. She loved the Adirondack Mountains, and spent much of the last 35 years at the family’s log home in Lake Luzerne, NY.
Debby is survived by her husband Frederic S. Ury; children Jennifer (Jeff) Gornbein and Robert Ury; grandchildren Jacob and Benjamin Gornbein; brothers Bryce Conner and Justin St. James; sister-in-law Linda Ury Greenberg and her husband Ned Greenberg, and their children Captain Michael Greenberg and Amanda Pinkston.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, October 23 (Saugatuck Congregational Church, 10 a.m.). There will be an opportunity to greet the family prior to the service. at 9:15 a.m. Burial at Willowbrook Cemetery will immediately follow the service. Click here to leave online condolences.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Debby H. Ury Scholarship Fund, c/o Lake Luzerne Music Camp. 203 Lake Tour Rd., Lake Luzerne, NY 12846.
Hazel Saviano of Westport died peacefully last Thursday, surrounded by loved ones, at the Roseville Road home she was born in. She was 94 years old.
Hazel was the daughter of Martha Mills and George Lewis Sr. The family’s roots in Westport stretched back to the mid-1800’s. Hazel remembered trolley cars traversing Westport streets.
She was a school bus driver in Westport for over 35 years. When she retired in 2003 at the age of 76, she had safely delivered thousands of Westport children to and from school.
Her family says, “Her heart was big and her smile was infectious. All who knew her loved and adored her.”
Hazel was predeceased by her husband, retired Westport Police lieutenant John J. Saviano Jr.; sons John J. Saviano III and Lawrence Saviano, and siblings Edna Call, Vera Lewis and George Lewis, Jr.
She is survived by her daughters Marie Richards (Robert), Melinda Bonin (Glen), Cheryl Petrone (Tom); daughter-in-law, Debra Saviano; grandchildren Robert L. Richards Jr. (Dawn), Melissa Bailey (Ethan) and Michelle Saviano; great-grandchildren Dylan and Violet Bailey, and several nieces and nephews.
In the winter of 2020. Jeff Manchester emailed “06880.” He was concerned about the “incredibly dumb placement” of a utility pole at the southwest corner of the Post Road West/Riverside Avenue intersection. He sent this photo:
Jeff warned: “It will surely result in a wedged tractor trailer at the intersection (trying to get back to I-95), or worse yet a fatality into the pole.”
There’s been no fatality yet. But yesterday, Jeff saw a bad accident right there. The pole leaned precariously against the building, as police and utility workers were figuring out what to do.
Moving forward, it’s a state road. The decision — to move the pole, or do something to the road — is in the Department of Transportation’s hands.
On Saturday afternoon, 5 paintings were unveiled in the walkway to Bedford Square off Main Street. “Westport Illustrated” portrays the history — and future — of Westport.
The mural project is a collaboration between the Westport Arts Advisory Committee, David Adam Realty and Charter Realty & Development, with support from the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.
From right to left: Eric Chiang, “A Vibrant New Community Unfurls”; Iyaba Ibo Mandigo, “The Ground Beneath Their Feet”; Hernan Garcia, “The Tides of Change”‘ Jana Ireijo,. “Keeping Memories Alive”; Rebecca Ross (Westport) “Westport of the Future: Circa 2070.”
Alert “06880” readers know that Jeera Thai is one of my favorite restaurants. The fresh ingredients, wonderful spices and special flavors — all lovingly prepared — make every meal a treat.
Now my go-to spot is open 7 days a week.
They’ve announced 3 new weekly specials, too:
• Prawn phat phong karee กุ้งผัดผงกระหรี่
• Basil fried rice ข้าวผัดกระเพาะกุ้ง
• Panang curry with chicken แพนงไก่
Jeera Thai — across from Design Within Reach, next to Finalmente — is easy to overlook. But you shouldn’t!
Jeera Thai, nestled in a small space off the Post Road.
A “Roundup” item last week about the Westport Astronomical Society‘s observance of Observe the Moon Night impelled Paul Delano to head to the observatory on Bayberry Lane.
He reports: “Everyone was very friendly and knowledgeable. Quite a few people were checking out the view. It was a beautiful sky and great to use the telescopes to see the planets. It’s at the highest point in Westport, so it has a great view of the sky. That night the moon, Jupiter and Saturn were the brightest.
“I got a new camera and telephoto lens recently that I wanted to try out. They let me set up my tripod and camera. I was surprised I could see so much more than the naked eye.”
Paul sent along a couple of photos:
Westport Astronomical Observatory, and the moon. (Photo/Paul Delano)
A first-ever International Market & Festival is set this Saturday (October 23, noon to 5 p.m.) at Lachat Town Farm in Weston.
It features include vendors representing various countries, cultural music and dance, and markets with food from countries like Italy, France, Kenya, Pakistan, Brazil, Peru, India, Japan, Romania and Mexico. Children will receive a “passport” they can fill up as they visit each exhibit.
Tickets are $20 per family. Click here for more information.
Westport celebrates jUNe Day. This Saturday, Weston hosts its own International & Festival. (Photo/Jeff Simon)
Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is all about dogwood berries. Scott Smith writes:
“We all get festive celebrating the blossoming of our lovely native dogwood trees early each spring. But Cornus florida deserves a special shoutout this fall.
“The profusion of red berries is the most vibrant I can recall. Whether it’s the summer that just won’t quit or the autumn that can’t get started, I don’t know, but I’m enjoying it.
“So too are the many birds that flock to this windfall of nutrient-rich berries. Robins in particular squabble over the berry-laden dogwood in my yard, even though there’s more than enough to go around. Let’s hope the birds spread the seeds of these treats far and wide.”
And finally … Peter Tosh was born today in 1944. From 1963 to 1976 he, Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer were the heart of the reggae band the Wailers. He then became a successful solo artist. He was killed in 1987 during a home invasion, at age 42.
The weather was great — and crowds large — for yesterday’s Westoberfest.
It wasn’t just about the craft beers. Among the scenes at the Westport Downtown Association-sponsored event: fun for kids.
A Post Road West business owner writes:
A technician was in my store Thursday evening, fixing our Wifi network and cameras.
Around 10 p.m. he saw a guy trying to break into his car, which was parked in front. He banged on the window to get him to stop. He didn’t want to step outside, because the man had a backpack. My network guy didn’t know if there was a weapon inside.
My guy called the police. The cops arrived very quickly.
Incredibly, while waiting for the police, my guy started praying for a safe resolution. When he looked outside, the robber stopped trying to break into the car. He started sobbing and praying as well.
My guy said that somehow his prayer had something to do with the change of heart of the would-be robber.
The police took him in without incident. But they said that was the third call of a car break-in that night.
Todd Suchotliff moved to Westport this summer. He’s enjoyed running through town. Next Sunday (October 24) he’ll run the New York Marathon — right here.
He encourages his new neighbors (and strangers!) to cheer him on, or join him for part of the route.
It’s his 9th straight NYC Marathon — and the 2nd virtual one. He runs in memory of his mother, who died of chronic lymphocytic leukemia 9 years ago this Tuesday. It’s his way of keeping her fighting spirit alive (and supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society — click here to help).
Todd has been training with his kids, and been motivated by the beauty of Westport.
His long runs start at his home on River Lane. He goes down Wilton Road, across the Saugatuck, up Cross Highway to Sturges Highway, down across Post Road to Greens Farms Road, turning at Hillspoint Road to Compo and through Longshore, then back across the Saugatuck on Bridge Street, up to Wilton Road and home.
“I realize it looks crazy, written out like that,” todd says. “But that’s more or less (actually more) the marathon route.”
His shorter runs, with his kids, include Compo and Longshore. They finish at the beach playground, and top the day off with donuts from Coffee An’ on the way home.
Westporters have responded generous to a call to help Afghan refugees resettling in the area.
A final collection of needed items is set for this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, October 16 and 17, 12 to 3 p.m.).
Men’s and women’s coats; teen and children warm clothes; boots, scarves, warm hats and umbrellas; backpacks filled with school supplies, and household toiletries, towels and cleaning supplies can all be dropped off at Greens Farms Congregational Church.
Backpacks and school supplies are among the items needed for Afghan refugees.
The weather looks great for tomorrow’s oft-postponed Dog Festival.
The event is set for Sunday (October 17, Winslow Park, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
Sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and TAILS, it features demonstrations, fun competitions, police K-9 presentations, kids’ activities, vendors, food trucks, a special appearance by Piglet (the blind and deaf chihuahua) and more.
Tickets are $10 per person, $25 for a family of 4. Dogs go free. Proceeds benefit non-profit organizations.
Dog owners can register for the competitions online or at the festival.
Interested in the kind of world today’s students will inherit? Do you have ideas how our schools can prepare them for it?
The Westport Public Schools invites all Westporters to an Education Summit next Wednesday (October 20, 6 to 8 p.m., Bedford Middle School auditorium).
Futurist Michael Weiss offers a keynote address, then lead an interactive discussion. It’s part of superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice’s Strategic Plan, aimed at taking our district into the next decade and beyond.
It’s been a while since we ran an osprey update. The other day, Franco Fellah spotted this young bird in the trees over the Saugatuck River, opposite his office on Riverside Avenue. Ospreys epitomize “Westport … Naturally.”
Air-cooled cars stopped traffic along Myrtle Avenue yesterday. They vehicles were parked — and exhibited — on Veterans Green. Sponsored by the Small Car Company, the show raised money for Person-to-Person in Norwalk.
Westport-based Small Car Company — a club for air-cool aficionados — is loosely connected to the car dealership of the same name. It was located on Post Road West, diagonally across from Kings Highway Elementary School. Today we know it as Carvana.
It’s always important to give blood. Tomorrow (Tuesday, October 12, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., VFW, 465 Riverside Avenue) you can donate in honor of a Westporter.
The Charley with a Y Foundation is sponsoring the event. “Charley” was Marine LCPL Charles Rochlin. The 2003 Staples High School graduate spent 7 months in Iraq. He was on leave in Westport when he died in an automobile accident.
Click here for an appointment (use sponsor code VFWWestport), or call 1-800-733-2767.
Genevieve Bouchard — owner of Scout & Molly’s, the women’s clothing boutique in Playhouse Square — recently lost her mother, Chantal Haskew.
At her death, the frequent Westport visitor and talented artist was one of the longest living liver transplant patients in the US. She lived one-third of her life because in 1995 a stranger donated organs. Thanks to her liver, Chantal enjoyed the weddings of her 5 children, and the joys of her 8 grandchildren.
In honor of her mom — and all the organ donors out there — Scout & Molly’s is hosting a special shopping day. This Thursday (October 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), a portion of all sales will be donated to Donate Life America.
Transplant recipients will be there, telling stories of their second chances at life.
A few tickets remain for this Friday’s (October 15, Fairfield Theater Company) “Evening of Motown” benefit for CLASP Homes.
Band Central — “music with a purpose” — will perform America’s favorite hits. Proceeds support CLASP’s work. The Westport non-profit supports adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities, through group homes and enrichment programs.
$40 tickets include a pre-party with lite bites. Art by CLASP residents will be on display. Click here to purchase.
Congratulations to the Westport Soccer Association’s U-11 blue team. They played 4 games in one day, and won the Bethel Columbus Day tournament.
Top row (left to right): head coach Bardhl Limani, James Tansley, Luke Shiel, John Walker, Peter Shakos, Lochlann Treanor, Nicolas Barreto, assistant coach Jeffery Holl, Bottom: Mason Holl, Atticus Lavergne, Andrew Floto, Matthew Alfaro, Zylan Wang.
Bobbi Burns is a teacher. But every day, she says, she learns something from her students.
That’s impressive. They’re 3 to years old, at Stepping Stones — Westport’s public pre-school.
Even more impressive: Burns has been teaching for 50 years.
She began her educational career — and started learning from children — at a New Jersey school for youngsters with significant emotional and behavioral disorders.
Special education was in its infancy. But she enjoyed the challenges of problem-solving, the chance to make a difference — and the new knowledge she gained every day.
Yet as she worked with troubled 13-year-olds, she wondered: What if we could get to them when they’re 3?
Bobbi Burns, in her classroom.
She got her master’s degree, moved to Connecticut, and pivoted to early elementary education in Newtown. Their preschool was a model for the state.
Excited by the possibilities, Burns earned certification as a reading consultant, and in administration and supervision. She added a doctorate from George Washington University, where she supervised student teachers.
As she finished her coursework, she saw a flyer for a position at Tufts University. The school was world renowned for early childhood work. The deadline was that day. Hastily, she sent in her application. She got the job.
After 3 years, she was recruited by Bright Horizons Children’s Center. She developed curriculum, trained teachers, and talked to parents all over the country. It was rewarding work.
But after 7 years, Burns missed direct contact with youngsters. In 1995, Westport was looking for experienced teachers. She’s been here — including the last 17 at Stepping Stones — ever since.
She never expected to teach this long. But she’s not ready to stop. The biggest challenge, Burns says, is her knees. It’s tough getting on and off the floor.
Teaching keeps her young. She loves finding out how to reach every child in a different way. The collaboration with colleagues like psychologists, speech and occupational and physical therapists, social workers, fellow teachers — and parents — is invigorating. “We all help each other,” she says.
Stepping Stones preschool is housed at Coleytown Elementary,
And she believes more firmly than ever in the important of preschool.
“There’s so much attention now to social and emotional learning,” she notes. “But that’s always been true of early childhood education. We teach them how to make friends, take care of themselves and others, how to learn, how to be curious, how to be part of a community.”
Westport is a high-powered place. There are high expectations, and plenty of stresses. Burns gives the district high marks for recognizing those issues, embracing ideas like mindfulness, and prioritizing social and emotional growth.
Most preschool teachers never get to see the fruits of their work. Former students seldom go back to Stepping Stones. For Burns, the rewards are intrinsic. She knows she has had an impact, at a very significant time in a youngster’s life.
Occasionally, she’ll see a parent of a former student. She still remembers one who said gratefully, “You changed the trajectory of my child’s life!”
Teaching through COVID was tough, Burns admits. But she and her Stepping Stones colleagues powered through. Their students were safe. They grew, and learned.
And of course, Bobbi Burns learned right along with them.
If you’re LGBTQ (the “Q” stands for either queer or questioning) — or you know someone who is — you can celebrate by watching “When Did You Know?”
That was last week’s webinar, sponsored by Westport Pride. Panelists — including former Staples High School principal John Dodig, former Staples High School tennis captain Luke Foreman, Staples Players alum Samantha Webstier, Weston High media influencer Zac Mathias, Staples teacher Kayla Iannetta, Westport moms Julie DeLoyd and Bethany Eppner, and Westport dad Brian McGunagle discuss their growing-up experiences, and life today.
It’s wide-ranging, informative and very, very human. Click here for the link. The passcode is “Westport06880!” (without the quotation marks).
You don’t have to be a Unitarian — or even religious — to enjoy next Saturday’s Fall Family Fun event. All (even singles) are welcome at (October 16, 2 to 5 p.m., Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road).
Entirely outdoors, it includes a “Best of the ’70s” singalong with the lead singer of DizzyFish, a musical mural, cake carousel, rock painting and bobbing for apples. For COVID safety, bring your own food.
Lifelong Westporter Samuel DeMeo has died. He was 94.
A US Army World War II veteran, he was a member of Joseph J. Clinton VFW Post 399. He was an avid hunter, fisherman and gardener, and loved spending time at Compo Beach in Westport. He also played the accordion in a band.
He is survived by daughters Suzy DeMeo, Karen Sternberg and Lynn Smith, 6 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great-grandchildren. He was pre deceased by his sisters Ellen Barker, Lynn DeMeo and Palma DeMeo. Services were private.
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