Category Archives: Downtown

Welcome To Westport(s)! Step Right Up! Book Your Tour Now!

Among our many claims to fame, Westport was once the center of the luxury tour industry.

Tauck — whose founder, Arthur Sr., virtually invented the group tour concept in 1925 — was headquartered here for many years. They’re now in Wilton, but family members still live in town.

Lindblad Expeditions was here too, just down Post Road West from Tauck, before moving to New York. Their handsome building at the corner of Sylvan Road North now houses the Pierrepont School.

Both companies specialize in providing great adventures for high-end travelers, around the globe.

Westport is not one of their destinations. In fact, we never think of ourselves as a “tourist” town.

Try telling that to WestportSTourS.

They use that awkward capitalization, and odd name, for a reason. They offer tours to “FIVE of the Really Great WestportS of the World.”

In case you’re wondering, those Westports are in Ireland, Ontario, Massachusetts and New York.

And of course, Connecticut.

(I had to scroll down pretty far to find the Bay State one. The website — whose fonts, colors and layouts appear to come from the early days of MySpace — lists only 4 at the top.)

But WestportSTourS is pretty excited about being one of the niche-est of all niche travel companies.

They say:

Our Boston-Based staff has visited ALL FIVE (5) of the Westports mentioned here. Not just “visited”, but taken folks with them on Group Tours to EACH of the Westports – one Westport, hundreds of times – other Westports, several times each year.

The other Westports offer attractions like one of the oldest county fairs in the US (New York), canals (Ontario), and a large clock in the central square (Ireland).

On the surface, our Westport does not sound much different from the others. We are all on water (hence the name). Several Westports boast live theater and/or “quaint shops and boutiques.”

Despite the map on the website, Westport, Connecticut is NOT in Westchester County.

But it seems that WestportSTourS really likes our Westport best. We’re featured often on the home page, with photos of our “Rubber Ducky Festival,” holiday lights on the William Cribari Bridge, and colorful flags on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. (So what if the website claims that different nations’ flags fly on “International Flag Day, June 14,” which does not exist? That’s American Flag Day. International flags fly on jUne Day, the last weekend of that month.)

Hey — no biggie! I’m sure the tour guides are much more accurate once they actually get here, and take guests all around town.

They’re enticed, I bet, by this info on the website. (I have kept the Trumpian capitalization and breathless text verbatim.)

This is the Westport  that is in the News almost Every Day –

This is the FUN  Westport where there are 80 Restaurants (number changes daily and We do  try to keep track) plus – World-Famous theatre,The Westport Country Playhouse, that dates-back to the early days of Summer Stock and the Straw Hat Circuit – Westport 06880, where there resided more Celebrities than anywhere else in the World (except Beverly Hills) by Zip Code.  Join US.  We can show you just about  EVERYTHING.

Two more views of our town, from the website.

This Westport is the home of the World’s largest Hedge Fund (if that means anything to you ?) and also this is the Westport where the commuter trains to New York City (47 miles to the West) – commuter trains stop 78 times EACH weekday – give or take.       Ask for “Gart”

There is MORE = LOTS more –

Gold Coast – The Tour .  This Tour is available ALL-YEAR.  Groups ONLY – perfect for your Wedding or Party Guests when you want them to see YOUR town – ALSO perfect if you are passing thru Westport on Interstate I-95 between New York and Boston.  YES, you can schedule to arrive in THIS Westport by Train.  YES you can enjoy REAL Salt-Water beaches.

 There’s much more on the tour too: the cannons. Positano and the Black Duck (“Definitely a Local Hotspot in Westport as seen  on TV’s Diners and Dives”). Even the “Compo Sailing Team.”

I’ve lived in Westport my whole life. I never knew we had such a team.

Hey, you’re never too old to learn something new. Sign me up for the tour!

After all, as the WestportSTourS website says: “We do All the Work. You have All the FUN.”

(Click here for the landing page. Click here for the Westport page. Hat tip: Elaine Marino)

 

Book Sale Begins Soon; Volunteers Needed

The Westport Library is transformed. But the annual book sale will be as familiar as your favorite novel.

Beginning Saturday, July 20 — the same weekend as the Fine Arts Festival — the 27th annual event features tens of thousands of books, in every category imaginable: art, children’s, graphic novels, foreign language, gardening, history, humor, music, mystery, nature, photography, poetry, religion, science fiction, sports, teens, travel.

That’s just the Jesup Green tent. Inside the library you’ll find DVDs, CDs, vinyl and paperbacks.

One scene from last year’s Book Sale.

This year’s specials include books from Ed Vebell, the famed illustrator whose heirs have donated much of his collection of military, American West and Native American objects, plus literature from Manny Margolis, the prominent civil rights attorney.

The Book Sale — whose proceeds benefit the library — needs over 300 volunteers. Set-up (starting July 15), sales, shelving, greeting, security, clean-up — there’s a job for everyone, of any physical ability.

If you’re a teenager, retiree or anyone in between, click here to sign up.

Book it!

(The Westport Library’s Book Sale is Saturday, July 20 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, July 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, July 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday, July 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Fine Arts Festival is Saturday and Sunday, July 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Pic Of The Day #803

And a little child shall lead them: Emanuel Linvald, 8, at today’s Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge demonstration protesting inhumane conditions for children at the US border. (Photo/Darcy Hicks)

Andrew Colabella Remembers Sean Brown

A few days ago, “06880” reader and RTM member Andrew Colabella shared his memories of Sean Brown, a Staples High School classmate who died a few days earlier. 

Today Andrew follows up with these thoughts:

Grieving is something we all do at some point. We can never picture or imagine how we will grieve. Suddenly, we are put to the test.

Memories spring to mind. They run as tears hit the page. Life flashes before our eyes, filled with memories. “Who was that in this photo?” “Why do I look like that?” And “wow, we were so young.” Bob Seger said it best: “We were young, and we were running against the wind.”

Rebellious but sensible, stubborn but witty, quick yet relaxed. That was Sean.

Do you ever go to a certain place in this bubble of a town, and flash back? Does something that happened 10 or 15 years ago feel like yesterday?

Do you ever remember when time would stand still in a particular moment of life? Sometimes you wish it would be over with. Sometimes you wish it would last longer.

Sean Brown

Last Sunday, a planned 4-hour gathering turned into a 7-hour reunion. Faces looked the same, voices sounded the same, everything seemed the same…but did it? Morgan Brown put together photos of Sean’s childhood. If only time could stand still like photos, Sean would be here. We would have more time with him, would have done more, said more, been together more.

All roads lead to Westport. And the DNA of Westport is spread throughout the world. As Sean’s father Doug made his way to Los Angeles to pick up his son’s ashes and belongings, he ran into people he’d never met, but who knew Sean from Westport.

Andrew Lunt received some of his clothes, fragments of evidence that this soul existed not only on earth, but in our lives. Proof that we are not dreaming of this short but mighty blond-haired, blue-eyed, raspy-voiced character. If only we could wake up from this nightmare of a friend missing.

Old Mill echoes with splashes of water cascading over the tidal gates. A younger generation has become fond of jumping off the gates into the deep pools, where fish tease first-time fisher kids.

Andrew Colabella and Sean Brown fished here. For decades, countless other kids have too.

Ship’s Corner — where kids once stood outside — went from mannequins with clothing samples to sparkling, shimmering interior design pieces.

At night Main Street was alive with kids playing “Manhunt,” chasing each other from roof to roof as police rushed to put their spotlights on us (but never caught us). The stairs to Onion Alley, where we all met while our families were at dinner, is now Bedford Square.

That Sunday, a warm sun and cool wind brought us together at Evan Harding Point. The people we once knew, but may have lost touch with, came together. Some discovered passion and talent, and became chefs. A sustainable engineer traveled from Florida; old lovers came from Colorado and Boston.

That night, we celebrated Sean Douglas Brown. I wish I could end this happily, but it wouldn’t satisfy what we truly wanted. It wouldn’t be the truth.

What I can end on is that our night ended with this group photo. As the sun and celebration came to an end, our souls came together in the light, because of one soul.

Until we meet again.

 

Sidewalk Sale Opens. Sidewalk Closed.

Shoppers flocked to Main Street, the Post Road and Playhouse Square today, for the Westport Downtown Merchants’ Association’s annual sidewalk sale.

Meanwhile, pedestrians had a mini-nightmare on Elm Street:

No worries. There are plenty of bargains to be had on the many open sidewalks throughout downtown.

And next year — when the Elm Street sidewalk is finished, and the new retail building is filled — there will be one more addition to the sale.

Kids’ Detention Center Protest Set For Saturday

Jim Naughton is not sleeping well.

The Tony Award-winning actor is haunted by images of children kept in horrifying conditions in detention centers on our nation’s southwest border.

He is surprised and distressed that Americans are not rising up in protest over the separation from family members, lack of access to basic sanitary conditions — and deaths.

So he’s taking action.

Naughton — a longtime Weston resident — enlisted the help of fellow humanitarian Ken Bernhard. The former Republican state representative, 3d selectman and volunteer board member helped found the Syria Fund, which aids refugees; the Tree of Life Orphanage in Haiti, and the Soles4Souls shoe drive.  

This morning, they arranged for a protest march this Saturday (June 29, 10 a.m.) on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge in downtown Westport.

“If our neighbors in Westport and Weston have been waking at night, as I have, horrified by the news of the way our country is mistreating children, and would like to do something, please meet, demonstrate and march with us on Saturday,” Naughton says.

“We hope to bring attention to what’s going on. We need to let our representatives know that we want this situation addressed now. It can’t drag on.

“This is a humanitarian problem. People of every political stripe who find this abhorrent are welcome.”

Four-Play At Town Hall

Alert readers who have sent in Entitled Parking photos (and your numbers are legion) know that I often reply, “Sorry. The bar is set very high. The driver must take up at least 3 spaces, or be so jaw-droppingly selfish he attempted something no one ever thought of before.”

Today’s winner managed to take park in not 3, but different Town Hall spots.

There is someone behind him, but he’s probably sticking out into the lane.

And please: Do not say the driver may have had a medical emergency.

Actually, it’s our medical problem. He made our heads explode.

Pic Of The Day #797

The transformed Westport Library opened today. One key feature: a new entrance on Jesup Green. Moments before the ribbon-cutting, youngsters enjoy the once-overlooked sculpture nearby. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Westport Celebrates: Transformation Complete, Library Opens!

If you want to know what kind of town Westport is, consider this:

On a Sunday morning — the most beautiful day of summer (so far) — 1,000 or so men, women and kids turned out to celebrate the re-opening of our library.

Plus this: The multi-year project came in on time.

And within budget.

A large crowd waited for the opening ceremony.

There were brief speeches by Governor Ned Lamont and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

Governor Ned Lamont — whose family endowed a library at Harvard University — talks about their importance.

A band played. Dozens of kids jumped in for the ribbon-cutting.

Kids celebrate, moments after 1st Selectman Jim Marpe cut the ribbon.

Then everyone clambered up the very new stairs, to the great new entrance. As Marpe noted, the library — originally a gift from Morris Jesup — now embraces Jesup Green, named for the founder’s family.

A brass band plays, as the crowd streams up the steps.

It’s a spectacular building we can all be proud of. It will evolve and be used in ways we have not yet even imagined.

Within minutes of the opening, the grandstand was packed.

Today was a great day for Westport. If you haven’t seen it yet: The festivities continue until 4 p.m.

To all who made today possible — especially our amazing library director Bill Harmer — thank you!

Music on the main stage, dance, podcasts, educational sessions, even composting and bees — it’s all on, all afternoon at the new library, until 4 pm. (All photos/Dan Woog)

Governor Lamont To Cut The Library Ribbon

Tomorrow’s fun, festive Westport Library Transformation Project ribbon-cutting ceremony just got more high-powered.

Governor Lamont has agreed to do the honors.

The event starts promptly at 11 a.m. Everyone will gather on Jesup Green, at the new “Grand Staircase.”

Andrew Wilk will introduce First Selectman Jim Marpe. He’ll say a few words, and introduce the governor.

The new Jesup Green grand staircase.

After the ribbon-cutting, the Hartford Hot Several Brass Band will play. They’ll lead the crowd into the new Library. The Forum will be the site of the first official event: a few short words from Library board president Iain Bruce, project architect Henry Myerberg, and executive director Bill Harmer.

Then comes 5 hours of interactive fun. Bands, artists, live podcasts, a performance by world-renowned/Westport neighbor pianist Frederic Chiu, children’s music, discussions, acoustic guitar, dance, exhibits, MakerSpace demos — that and much more is in store.

See you at the Grand Staircase!