Hoping to get an early start on shopping, you head downtown. You pull into the Parker Harding lot — but it’s already nearly full.
A great sign of Westport’s booming retail economy?
No. A distressing sign that employees are taking advantage of free all-day parking.
The decision during COVID to lift limits seemed wise. Many stores were closed, or on reduced hours. Why not make things easier on the folks we needed?
Now though — as the holiday season nears — parking needs have changed.
Parker Harding Plaza
A longtime (and very frustrated) Westporter writes: “All day long, the cars just sit there. There’s no room for anyone except the employees. Why can’t they park in other lots and walk a couple of blocks, like they used to?”
Why can’t shoppers do the same? you may ask.
The answer is: Because we’re supposed to make shopping attractive and easy.
The nickname for Parker Harder is “Harder Parking.” Seems like downtown employees — and their employers — make it even more so.
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)
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.
From time to time, our Friday Flashback visits Fountain Square. That’s the Post Road/Main Street intersection. Early in the 20th century — dominated by a large fountain (aka horse trough) — it’s where townspeople gathered to conduct business, socialize, and water their horses.
It was also known as “Hotel Square.” Prior to construction of the YMCA in 1923, the Westport Hotel stood on the corner.
Last weekend, Gitta Selva went to a flea market in New Milford. She bought a plate that depicts Hotel Square. The seller found it while cleaning out her mother’s house in Westport.
The inscription says it was reproduced from an original mural by Westport artist Robert Lambdin (1886-1981). It shows a street scene from 1875-1880, including the Westport Hotel.
There was plenty of action: well-dressed people bustling around a horse-drawn trolley, a horse drinking at the trough, others nearby at the hotel.
Lambdin’s mural hung in the Westport Bank & Trust building. Today it’s Patagonia — a few yards away from the scene shown on the plate.
The hotel is at the current site of Anthropologie. The trough is on Main Street. The white house behind it is where Patagonia is now. It looks quite a bit like the house that was converted a few years ago into the Spotted Horse restaurant.
If so, was that house moved later to its present site? Did Lambdin take artistic liberty with what he drew?
Click “Comments” below if you know. And if you are 100 years old and remember “Fountain Square,” we’d love to hear more!
Saturday’s “Westoberfest” has something for everyone.
The Westport Downtown Association event — set for all around Elm Street — includes road races (kids at noon, 10K at 12:30 p.m.); food, vendors, apples and pumpkin giveaways, pumpkin decorating, street magician and live music (1 to 5 p.m.), beer tasting (2 to 5 p.m.), and an air-cooled classic vintage car expo (3:30 p.m.).
Advance tickets are $40 each, $75 for 2, special 10-pack for $350. Click here for tickets. They’re $50 each, if purchased at the event.
Also on Saturday (and free): presentation of 5 murals at the Main Street entrance to Bedford Square.
Commissioned by the Westport Arts Advisory Committee, each represents a different aspect of life in Westport’s history. They start with indigenous people, and move across the wall to the future: Westport, circa 2070.
Artists include Westporter Eric Chiang, who exhibits locally and in his native Taiwan, and is a founding member of the Artist Collective of Westport; Westporter Jana Ireijo, founder of “Mural Ethos,” which creates vanishing murals to illustrate climate change; Staples and Pratt Institute graduate Rebecca Ross; Hernan Garcia from Norwalk, born in Colombia and trained in both architecture and fine arts; Bridgeport painter and Antigua native, poet, writer, actor and playwright Iyaba Ibo Mandingo.
Sure, the Westport Young Woman’s League does wonderful, charitable work.
But members have a great social time too.
On Saturday, past president Lauren Bromberg hosted a “Rock ‘n’ Paint” party at her home. Guests shot paint from water guns to create art — while rocking out to ’90s tunes.
The WYWL plans a number of other casual gatherings this year, including fire pits, wine tastings, hikes, dog play date meet-ups at Compo, coffee chats, evening dinners and more. For more information, click here or follow on Instagram: @wywlwestport.
“Shooting” artwork at the Westport Young Woman’s League social,
Downtown is Westport’s commercial hub. It’s filled with stores and restaurants, plus parking lots and office buildings of all sizes.
But a beautiful river, dotted with wildlife, runs right through downtown too. And even though we seldom take the time the look, there’s a culvert just like the one in a pond or tidal marsh.
Some readers thought that last week’s Photo Challenge was near the shore. But Tracy Porosoff’s image was taken in the heart of downtown. It’s near the office complex at Gorham Island, not far from GG & Joe’s. (Click here to see.)
Sylvia Robinson Corrigan and Ivy Gosseen knew exactly where it was. So did Robert Giunta. Then again, he should. Thirty years ago, he built that riprap and stone wall.
Today’s Photo Challenge is a bit more whimsical. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Or Zelle: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)