Category Archives: Downtown

Roundup: Senior Center, Toquet Hall, Twilight Zone …

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The latest casualties of COVID: the Senior Center and Toquet Hall.

Both places — gathering spots for older Westporters and teenagers, respectively — have suspended all indoor and in-person programming.

The town Department of Human Services says that some Senior Center classes and programs will be offered on Zoom.

The Senior Center lunch program will operate as a drive-thru at noon, Monays through Fridays. To participate, call 203-341-5099 at least 24 hours in advance.

Back in action soon — hopefully.

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Rod Serling moved from Westport to California in the late 1950s. He died — at just 50 years old — in 1975.

But the screenwriter extraordinaire still lives. Continuing a long tradition, the SyFy network airs a “Twilight Zone” New Year’s marathon. It starts at 2 a.m. tomorrow (Friday, December 31) and runs through 5 a.m. Sunday, January 2.

There’s a new episode every half hour or so. Click here for the schedule.

Looking for “A Stop at Willoughby” — the famous show in which the conductor of a train calls out “Next stop: Westport Saugatuck!” (and which Serling called his favorite of the entire first year)?

It’s 8:20 p.m. on Saturday — New Year’s Day.

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Local to Market — Main Street’s great new spot for food, crafts and much more — is hiring.

If you’re fond of fine local stuff, have a passion for small business, and are interested in joining a fun team for 10-20 hours a week, email jon@localtomarket.com.

Local to Market is hiring.

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Our “Westport … Naturally” feature focuses on natural features (naturally).

Sometimes though, the natural world needs a slight man-made touch. David Lowrie created this scene, using (naturally) all natural tree stumps, at his property off North Bulkley.

(Photo/Tom Lowrie)

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And finally … today is the birthday of a ton of important musicians: Bo Diddley, Skeeter Davis, Del Shannon, John Hartford, Paul Stookey, Felix Pappalardi, two Monkees (Michael Nesmith and Davy Jones), Patti Smith and Jeff Lynne.

It’s hard to pick just one to showcase. But in the spirit of optimism — at the end of a tough year, and the dawn of a new one — I’ll go with this:

Roundup: At-Home COVID Kits, Tree Recycling, Keith Richards …

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The State of Connecticut has procured 500,000 at-home COVID test kits; each contains 2 tests. Westport’s allotment 3,420 kits.

The kits will be distributed to Westport residents tomorrow (Thursday, December 30) at Staples High School, beginning at 1 p.m.

Each vehicle will receive 2 kits, on a first-come, first-served basis. A driver’s license will be required to receive the test kits.

As early as next week, the state will also distribute N95 masks. Details are still being finalized.

Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani says:

I strongly encourage people to limit gathering sizes during this holiday week. Because of the scarcity of these kits, I ask residents to please take only the kits that you need for your immediate family so that we can distribute as many as possible to help flatten the Omicron curve.

Residents testing positive via the home test should stay home or isolate for 5 days if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others. There is no need to obtain a follow up PCR test.

Given the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant, it is vital to wear a mask both in public, and when interacting in close contact with individuals outside of your household. For the latest CDC guidelines, please click here.

Westport Public Schools families should report positive COVID cases of students using the district’s reporting voicemail or email (click here for details). It is not necessary to report positive results from at-home testing to the Westport Weston Health District. (Hat tip: Ernie Lorimer)

An at-home COVID test.

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COVID did not stop you from buying a Christmas tree.

And it won’t stop Boy Scout Troop 39 from hauling yours away, either.

The Scouts’ annual tree pick-up project — one of the town’s most-awaited post-New Year’s events — is set for Saturday, January 8.

It’s simple: First you register (click here).

Then put your tree by your mailbox by 6:30 a.m. on January 8. Tape an envelope with a donation (suggested: $20 per tree) to your front door (cash or check, payable to “Boy Scout Troop 39”).

They’ll do the rest. Scout’s honor! (Hat tip: Jenny Rago McCarthy)

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This has been a tough year for many. It’s been especially difficult for the Colletti family.

Chuck and Roe Colletti have been active with Westport organizations, events and charities since 1974. Their daughter Cassie is married to Sean Mecsery. They have 2 children, 6 and 2 years old. For the past 2 years Sean has battled stage 4 brain cancer for 2 years.

They’ve shuttled between hospitals on both coasts for surgeries, chemotherapy radiation and trial medications. It’s been brutal.

Cassie has been strong, focused and committed throughout the ordeal. Meanwhile, she’s managed Sean’s family’s business — Cos Cob TV & Audio — to help keep the family afloat. COVID has made that especially hard.

Many daily medications and infusions are not covered by insurance. A GoFundMe page has been set up, to help. To donate, click here.

Sean and Cassie Colletti Mecsery, with their kids.

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The “06880” tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.”

It doesn’t get more global than this.

Bert Spenkelink lives in Amsterdam. He loves the Rolling Stones. He has 25,000 photos of them in his library, and posts about them often on Instagram.

He just uploaded this one:

The photographer — uncredited — took this shot of Keith and his daughter Theodora the other day, at Sherwood Island State Park.

Avid “06880” reader (and Stones fan) Fred Cantor sent it along to me. He got it from our former Staples High School classmate Alan Bravin, who now lives in California.

So, to be clear: A fan in the Netherlands found this photo of Weston’s most famous resident, celebrating the holidays in Westport — and it came to me, a couple of miles from where it was taken, by someone on the West Coast.

Happy holidays, Bert, Fred, Alan, Keith and Theodora!

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As reported on “06880” last month, Savannah Bee has left its hive.

The Bedford Square store — which branched out from (great) honey products to become both an educational center and gathering place for ecologically minded Westporters — was shut by the owners of the largely Southern chain.

There’s a big hole in the heart of Church Lane today. No word yet on what will fill that very sweet spot.

Meanwhile, just a few feet away, Franny’s Farmacy closes Friday (December 31). Click here for details, reported earlier this month on “06880.”

It too is for rent.

The former Savannah Bee. (Photo/Sal Liccione)

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Fourth-generation Westporter Jonathan Maddock died December 19, after fighting a courageous battle against ALS. He kept his positive attitude and wonderful sense of humor until the end. He was 66 years old.

Jon grew up here surrounded by the love and friendship of his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins,  sisters and parents Larry and Fran Maddock, who he believed were the best parents anyone could have.

Jon loved the outdoors, and enthusiastically embraced life. He bicycled more than 5,000 miles from Westport to California and back, alone. He served as commodore of the Sandy Hook (New Jersey) Catamaran Club, sailing and racing catamarans.

He skied, mountain biked, ran long distances, ice skated, and enjoyed trout and fly fishing. He was an avid photographer of nature, as well as silly things. Jon was a skilled woodworker, building furniture and special wooden boxes as Christmas gifts. He loved listening to music, played trombone (which he laughingly balanced on his nose), and long ago enjoyed being part of the Fred Robinson Big Band.

Jon graduated from Staples in 1973, then from the University of Maine in 1977. After following a variety of career paths he and his family settled in Wolfeboro. New Hampshire, where he was employed as senior designer at Lars Heating Systems. He worked there for 20 years, and made good friends who supported him through his ALS journey.

Jon is survived by his wife Karen; daughter Kelsey; loving sisters Becky (Ray) Racine, Judy Anderson and Sandy Hasket, and many nieces an nephews and good friends. He was predeceased by his parents.

Until the end Jon was was loving, kind, understanding, compassionate, smart, funny and brave. To help carry on Jon’s fight to stop ALS, click here.

Jon Maddock (Photo/Barbara Marks)

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For a few days now, a Christmas tree has dangled from a crane over the boatyard near the railroad station.

(Photo/Nancy Vener)

There must be a back story. But I sure don’t know it. If you do, click “Comments” below.

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We like serene scenes for our “Westport … Naturally” feature — especially at the end of this chaotic year.

It doesn’t get more calming than this:

(Photo/Bobbi Essagof)

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And finally … in honor of the Keith Richards/Amsterdam/California story (above):

Pic Of The Day #1715

Moon over downtown Westport (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Pic Of The Day #1714

Serving dinner at Amis (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Pic Of The Day #1709

Levitt Pavilion blues (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Unsung Heroes #219

This week’s Unsung Heroes award is simple: Every local merchant.

For nearly 2 years, whether they sell toys, clothes, gifts or liquor — well, okay, maybe not the latter — they’ve had a very tough time.

COVID kept customers home. Some remain hesitant to return. The supply chain broke. So did the supply of willing and able workers.

Everywhere they turned, every store owner who had done all the right things suddenly found it wasn’t enough.

But they adapted. They adopted new methods of sales and delivery. They worked extra hours themselves.

They persevered. They survived. And now — during what is for many the busiest week of the busiest month of the year — they continue to serve us.

Take a bow, Westport merchants. We thank you for your wonderful, way-beyond-what’s-expected service.

Now: Get back to work. There’s a line at the counter, and they need help!

Local to Market patio brings fresh energy — and tons of cool Connecticut products to downtown. It’s one of many mom-and-pop shops that’s making our town alive again.

Roundup: Kowalsky Property, Orphenians, Fleet Feet …

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For months, Greens Farms residents have wondered: What’s going on at Morningside Drive South and Clapboard Hill Road

There’s been activity there, at one of the town’s largest still-undeveloped private tracts of land.

On January 5 (7:30 p.m., Zoom) the Flood & Erosion Control Board will hear an application on behalf of the owner — Kowalsky Family Company LLC — for a 6-lot subdivision. It will be reviewed for drainage and grading recommendations to the Planning & Zoning Commission. To attend the virtual meeting, click here.

Site of the proposed subdivision, at 109 Morningside Drive South. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)

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The latest COVID casualty: tomorrow’s Orphenians carol sing downtown.

The a cappella singers had invited alumni to join them, for this special event. The surge in local cases means waiting a year.

Orphenians director Luke Rosenberg wishes all Orphenians, past and present — and their countless fans — a happy, healthy holiday.

The Staples Orphenians sang downtown earlier this month, at the 06880″ Holiday Stroll.

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Despite the Orphenians’ cancellation, there’s a great reason to go downtown tomorrow (Thursday).

From 2 to 5 p.m. Staples High School’s OneWestport Club is holding a toy and coat drive, at the Bedford Square traffic circle on Elm Street.

All donations will go to the Person to Person network. They provide a free holiday store, where low-income families can shop for free gifts for their families. There’s been a huge demand this year, so OneWestport is offering a final push.

New and gently used coats (all sizes, but clean!), new board games, stuffed animals and picture books are great.

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Run — don’t walk — into 2022! Registration is open for Fleet Feet’s next training program

Starting Saturday, January 8 (8 a.m.), it’s a 12-week group effort, for runners of all abilities. From non-runners to those training for a big race: All are welcome.

There are Saturday 8 a.m., and Tuesday 5:30 p.m. sessions. Most runs start and end at the Sconset Square store (with an occasional track or trail run).

Fleet Feet offers a changing room/bathroom, secure storage of keys and valuables — and product discounts while enrolled in the program. Click here for more information, and registration.

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There are 3 shopping days left until Christmas.

Then — on Monday, December 27 — you can start again. MoCA Westport will host a pop-up shop event (9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.), in conjunction with the Winter Recess Art Camp at their 19 Newtown Turnpike campus.

The sale features luxury home accents and fashion accessories.

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Thanks to STAR board member Amanda King Heavey, her son Will and his classmates, every child served by the STAR Rubino Family Center’s early intervention pediatric therapy program will receive a handmade card and note, plus a book to enjoy during the holidays.

Entering its 70th year, STAR Lighting the Way  creates opportunities for people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live full, independent lives.

In the photo below, Will Heavey gives Westporter Parker Greenberg a book and card.

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Aitoro Appliance — just over the line in Norwalk — is many Westporters’ go-to for sales and service.

Now they need our help.

On Monday night at 3:30 a.m., 2 men wearing hoodies stole gas grills. The vehicle was a white Ford truck. Security cameras could not catch the license plate. Anyone with information can email info@aitoro.com.

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“Westport … Naturally” loves to show creatures of all kinds playing in Westport.

But no one has had more fun than this guy, spotted by Elisabeth Keane outside her home:

(Photo/Elisabeth Keane)

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And finally … Maurice and Robin Gibb were born on this day in 1949. With their older brother Barry, they formed the Bee Gees — one of the most popular British Invasion (and then disco) groups of all time.

Both died young: Maurice at 53 from a twisted intestine, and Robin at 62 from kidney failure.

Pic Of The Day #1707

Saugatuck River, from Parker Harding Plaza (Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

Roundup: Kentucky Aid, Urgent Care, Arnie’s Place …

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On the last Sunday before Christmas, Main Street is packed today with almost-last-minute shoppers.

While buying gifts for friends and loved ones, Steve Crowley hopes we’ll think about everyone in Kentucky whose holidays — and lives — were upended by last week’s tornadoes.

Steve — the owner of SCA Crowley Real Estate Services — has swung into action. He got a logo (courtesy of Miggs Burroughs) with the words “America Lends a Hand.” He ordered dozens of t-shirts, with the design.

Marty Rogers produced a sign. It’s in front of Vineyard Vines all day today, where Steve and his sons are selling the shirts, in return for donations to the Western Kentucky Relief Fund. 100% of all contributions go directly there.

In the midst of everything, stop in front of Vineyard Vines to help out. And, Steve says, if you can’t be there, send a tax-deductible check made out to “Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund,” c/o Public Protection Cabinet, 500 Metro Streeet, 218 NC, Frankfort, KY 40601.

Steve Crowley (right) and sons, selling t-shirts outside Vineyard Vines today.

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As the Omicron variant surges, and COVID cases soar, the Urgent Care center on Post Road East — which offers rapid testing i– has been swamped with patients.

As Bob Weingarten notes,  the line of cars there “has replaced the normal line at Starbucks” across the street.  .

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

Hey: If there’s an accident at Urgent Care, at least you won’t go far for treatment.

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Marty Greenberg lives on the Saugatuck River, across from the Rowing club. Last night around 8:30, the “floating Christmas team” passed by, for the second time.

“What a sight! What a treat!” Marty says. “it’s a unique Westport thrill.”

Floating Christmas tree, across from the Saugatuck Rowing Club. (Photo/Marty Greenberg)

Readers: If you’ve got photos — or any other info on the floating Christmas tree, like when it will next ride the river — click “Comments” below.

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Sure, this is one of the busiest weeks of the year. But if you get a chance, stop in to the Westport Library’s Verso Studios holiday open house tomorrow (Monday, December 20, 7 p.m.).

The creative staff will show off their podcast, mixing and mastering equipment.  They’ll answer questions about audio and video creation, editing and post-production, including training courses.

Registration is requested, for planning purposes. Click here to RSVP, and learn more.

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Speaking of the library: Longtime and beloved Westport artist Roe Halper’s acrylic paintings will be on display there from January 5 to March 7.

There’s a reception January 13, and an artist’s talk February 10. Both begin at 7 p.m..

COVID got you worried? Contact Roe for a private viewing: http://www.roehalperart.com.

“Orange” (Roe Halper)

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Speaking of the Library: It can’t run without volunteers. Betty Lou Cummings was one of its staunchest.

She served many other organizations, including her fall festival baby, the Applel Festival. She was a Representative Town Meeting member, as well as a 2nd selectwoman.

Yesterday, Betty Lou and her husband Tom celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. It was the same day I — and so many other Westporters — got their classic Christmas card, filled with photos of children, grandchildren, and random others.

Happy anniversary — and Merry Christmas — to one of our town’s favorite couples!

Betty Lou and Tom Cummings.

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Meanwhile, across Jesup Green from the Library, the Westport Book Shop continues to fill an important niche.

And the used book store does it with panache. Here’s their current sign:

(Photo/David Meth)

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Here’s a last-minute gift idea for anyone who remembers hours spent at Arnie’s Place arcade (or dreams about paying their taxes in pennies, as Arnie did).

Virginia Wong — the Westport native and entrepreneur who spent many happy hours at the controversial (to parents and town officials) and joyful (to kids) Post Road video arcade (now Ulta) — has reanimated the iconic graphic from Arnie Kaye’s long-running campaign to open, and stay open.

“I Support Arntie’s” t-shirts come in 4 colors. They’re perfect for any ’80s Westport kid.

Click here to order. But hurry! Tomorrow (Monday, December 20) is the cutoff for Christmas delivery.

“I Support Arnie’s” t-shirt, in pink.

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If you haven’t been to Compo Beach lately, you’ve missed serene winter “Westport … Naturally” scenes like this:

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)

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And finally … Edith Piaf was born on this day, in 1915. The French singer-songwriter. She died in 1963, just 47 years old. But she left quite a legacy behind.

Franny’s Closing On Church Lane; Looking For THC License

Franny’s Farmacy — the Church Lane outlet for locally grown, sown and produced hemp and CBD products — closes its doors on December 31.

They’ll temporarily reopen on January 4 a few yards away, at 33 Elm Street (Unit #2).

Meanwhile, they’ll begin the application lottery process to acquire an adult-use THC license.

Westport officials recently decided to wait and see whether to permit recreational adult-use cannabis operations here. Franny’s’ temporary relocation will allow it to remain in Westport, while determining the next course of action.

The Franny’s of Westport Facebook page will remain active. The online store is open too.