Category Archives: Media

Roundup: Henry Wynne, Pops Concert, Teacher Of The Year …

=====================================================

Ever since he was a Staples High School track star, Henry Wynne has been called an “Olympic hopeful.”

Now that the Olympics are near — they’re supposed to begin next month in Tokyo — how hopeful is the Class of 2013 grad?

Very. And that’s despite a litany of issues that dogged him as a University of Virginia star, and beyond. Since 2016 Wynne has suffered a knee injury, pneumonia, and surgery on his small intestine.

But Brooks Running signed him to a pro contract. And now — with the Olympic trials underway now through June 27 in Eugene, Oregon — Wynne is giving it his best shot.

Yesterday, Runner’s World magazine profiles one of Westport’s top athletes ever. Click here for the full story.

Henry Wynne (Photo/Will Hoffman for Runner’s World)

=======================================================

Did you miss the Staples High School Pops Concert earlier this month? (No, you didn’t overlook it. Tickets were limited, due to COVID.)

Here’s a highlight reel, courtesy of Jim Honeycutt. Strike up the band!

=======================================================

Speaking of education: Sure, the Westport Public Schools select a Teacher of the Year. But there’s something special about earning that honor from a different source: the Staples High School football team.

This spring, the Wreckers — used to be cheered for — turned the tables. They gave shout-outs to their favorite educators in a homemade video. At the end, they announced the winner.

Who is this year’s football team Staples Teacher of the Year? Click below to see:

=======================================================

Another Staples tidbit: The Westport Garden Club has earned raves for their #FridayFlowers arrangements. Each week, there’s a different one somewhere in town.

This week’s was unveiled a day earlier. On Thursday evening, Class of 2021 graduates and their families saw this as they drove into Staples from North Avenue:

=======================================================

Two more sings that Westport is getting “back to business.”

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce held its first in-person gathering in 20 months yesterday, at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center. Over 60 people gathered in the garden, in beautiful weather. They shook hands, ate food catered by Calise’s Deli, and — as they did for years before the pandemic — exchanged business cards.

Sal Gilbertie spoke about the 100 years since his grandfather began as a flower grower, then turned to herbs. Today Gilbertie’s is a major micro green seller, in addition to their nursery’s plants and trees.

Sal Gilbertie addresses the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

But the Chamber wasn’t the only major Westport organization holding its first live-and-in-person meeting yesterday.

Sunrise Rotary also gathered together, for the first time in over a year. Attendance was solid. Handshakes and hugs were heartfelt.

And for those unable or not yet ready to attend, the event was livestreamed.

======================================================

Enrollment is open for MoCA Westport’s summer courses, for toddlers through adults. Among the choices:

  • Summer Sunset Painting Series (High school and adult)
  • The World of Digital Art Animation (High school and adult)
  • The Art of Cinematography (High xchool and adult)
  • Intro To Digital Photography (High school and adult)
  • Skateboard Design (Middle school through adult)
  • Summer Saturday Art Workshops for Kids (PreK to grade 3)
  • Learn How To Code (Middle school through Adult)
  • Robotics (Middle school through adult)
  • Expressive Art for Toddler

For more details and to register, click here.

=======================================================

Westport Country Playhouse has 4 new trustees. Three are from Westport: Jessica Caldwell, Will Haskell and Margie Jacobson.

Haskell — a state senator whose district includes Westport — has a long theatrical history. As a member of Staples High School’s Class of 2014, he was elected of Players, the drama troupe.  One of his first memories of live theater was seeing “Curious George” as a child, at the Playhouse’s old barn.

Caldwell graduated from Columbia University’s MFA film program. She produced independent feature films, while her feature film productions have premiered at Berlinale, SXSW and Tribeca. Her short film work has premiered at Sundance, Telluride, and Tribeca. Caldwell was also the writers’ room assistant and showrunners’ assistant on “Billions.” She is also a Moth storytelling contest GrandSlampion.

Jacobson is a nonprofit leader and attorney with legal experience spanning a variety of diverse settings. She is currently of counsel to a boutique law firm advocating for students’ rights from birth through post-secondary education, and co-founder of Woman’s Compass Forum. Jacobson previously served on the Playhouse board, from 2010 to 2016. She also serves on the boards of the ADL and the Remarkable Theater.

The WCP board of trustees is chaired by Westporter Ania Czekaj-Farber.

The Westport Library has 2 new trustees too.

Anna Alemani is CFO of Pierrepont School. Previously she had a 15-year career in finance. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Business Administration from Bocconi University in Milan, where she focused her studies on management of museums and cultural institutions.

Dave Briggs spent his career in television, as a sports and news reporter/anchor. He has moved from South Dakota and Oklahoma to Boston, where he covered Red Sox World Series championships, Patriots Super Bowl titles and a Celtics NBA crown. He also hosted “Fox & Friends Weekend,” and (for NBC) NHL, NASCAR, NFL and Olympic tennis, before anchoring “Early Start” on CNN. He currently interviews important Connecticut residents for Moffly Media content.

=======================================================

We see a lot of old things at the transfer station.

Yesterday morning, it was a Model A Ford. Fortunately, it was running fine. The driver was there just to drop off some newer trash.

(Photo/Frank Rosen)

======================================================

The VFW is not just for men!

The other day, Y’s Women’s Trivia group met for their monthly luncheon. The VFW’s great chef, Joe Gallo, fed them well.

Other Y’s Women groups include Tuesday morning Compo Beach walkers, and one that meets in the evening to watch spectacular sunsets.

To learn more about the Y’s Women, email dynamicr@icloud.com.

Joe Gallo hosts the Y’s Women.

=====================================================

July 4 is the publication date for not one but two Carl Addison Swanson books. The Westporter’s latest works are written “Venezuela Vengeance” and “Brotherly Hate.”

He’s CEO of Bermuda’s CAS Publications, which publishes 14 other writers, and  is a contributing editor at HBO. Click here for details.

======================================================

Seen this morning at Compo Beach: either the remnant of a Friday celebration for Staples High School’s graduation, or “saving a spot” for today:

(Photo/Michael Calise)

======================================================

Lauri Weiser calls this “Westport … Naturally” photo “Lurking in the Grasses”:

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

=======================================================

And finally … Juneteenth has been celebrated — in one form or another — for 155 years.

Today, for the first time, we honor it as a national holiday.

Amen.

This week, immediately after the bill was signed in the House of Representatives and sent to President Biden, the Congressional Black Caucus sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

It’s been called the “Black National Anthem.” But it’s a fitting anthem today for every American, of every color and background.

 

 

 

 

Save The Date: “06880” Blog Party Is July 15!

It’s been waaaaaay too long.

Two years ago, lightning knocked out our annual “06880” blog party.

Last year COVID kept us all home.

But that’s all in the rear view mirror. Mark your calendars for Thursday, July 15 — the day one of summer’s best traditions returns.

If you’re reading this, you’re part of the great “06880” online community.

Which means you’re invited.

We’ll gather at 6 p.m. at Compo Beach — specifically, alcohol-is-okay South Beach, by the trees (the opposite end from the cannons).

Bring your own food, beverages (no glass bottles, though!), beach chairs and blankets.

A blog party is a true community gathering. It’s a chance to meet and mingle with the diverse “06880” community (both online and real). It’s fun, un-fancy, and free (unless you don’t have a sticker — but closer to the date, we’ll try to arrange rides).

This year’s blog party will be better than ever.

You read it here first.

A few fun folks at a pre-COVID, pre-thunderstorm “06880” party.

Roundup: Library Cafe, Granny Rocks, Arts …

=======================================================The Westport Library Café is open again.

Well, sort of. Hours are limited (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). There’s beverage service only — none of the great Mystic Market treats that were so popular before COVID.

But it’s a start. The gorgeous space by the river no longer seems so empty.

Meanwhile, the library store — filled with gifts, cards, and whatnot — has re-emerged from its hiatus in one of the reading rooms. It’s back on the main floor.

Now all we need are dozens of people hanging out on the Forum steps, speakers on stage every night, and water running once again from the bubblers.

(Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

=======================================================

The Netflix crew that’s spent several weeks filming “The Noel Diary” in Westport has inconvenienced some residents. They’ve also taken taken over the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot, for use as a staging area. Several large trucks are camped there. Closure of the lot has upset some dog-walking regulars, who prefer that spot to the North Compo lot.

But some were particularly upset yesterday, at the mess left in the northeast corner of the lot. A temporary tent used by the production crew was gone.

And this is what remained:

(Photo/Sara Robbin)

=======================================================

Lisa Doran’s Greens Farms Elementary School distance learning 1st graders welcomed a very special visitor yesterday.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe took time out of his day to pop into her classroom — via Zoom — to chat.

The students were enthralled — and inquisitive. When one asked what Marpe likes best about his job, he got up from his desk, and grabbed the giant pair of scissors — a present from his wife after his first election. He uses them at ribbon cutting ceremonies, which he says is his favorite task.

Another student asked if he knows everyone in Westport. He said that he knows quite a lot of people — especially since COVID, when he met so many Westporters online.

The next student asked if he was like the president of Westport. That’s a great analogy. And Doran’s class thanked the “president” for spending some quality time with them.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe (lower right), Greens Farms Elementary School teacher Lisa Doran (top row, 2nd from left), and her students on Zoom.

=======================================================

Speaking of Marpe: In not exactly stop-the-presses news, he has endorsed Jen Tooker and Andrea Lawrence Moore in November’s selectmen’s race..

The pair must still be officially nominated by the Republican Party, at their meeting next month.

Jen Tooker (right) and Andrea Moore.

=======================================================

The Westport Museum of History & Culture’s walking tour of downtown — uncovering the hidden stories of Black life here, over the centuries — has sold out.

So they’ve added 2 more tours: Friday, June 18 (2 p.m.) and Saturday, June 19th (9:30 a.m.).

Tickets are $10. Reservations are required. Click here to register, and for more information.

=======================================================

For 2 years, Rosemary Cass has enriched the lives of people 55 and older.

Her “Seeing it Clearly Now” blog inspires everyone — retired or not — to learn new things, find purpose, and explore the arts.

Rosemary has just added a 2nd blog. It’s aimed at a special niche: grandmothers.

She says that “This Granny Rocks” — clever name, no? — provides a place where “grannies can brag about their perfect grandchildren, without everyone rolling their eyes. No judgment here.”

Readers can submit stories, their grandkids’ photos and clever sayings, and warm, nostalgic stories about their own grandmothers. The site will also offer helpful granny information, and advice on the art of grandmothering.

It launched with stories from Joan Isaacson (Westport author of “The Red Velvet Diary”), and Sharon Citrin Goldstein of Fairfield. To learn more, click here.

=======================================================

The arts are crucial to Westport. But — like anything beautiful — they must be nurtured.

To help, MoCA Westport is hosting an open meeting. Representatives from local arts organizations and 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker will talk — and listen — about the best ways to support our arts institutions and community. 

The event is next Monday (June 21, 5 to 6 p.m., outdoors at MoCA, 19 Newtown Turnpike. It’s free; no registration required. Questions? Email ruth@mocawestport.org, or call 203-222-7070.

=======================================================

Speaking of art: When Harvest Commons renovated their community room, it looked great. But the walls were bare.

So the condominium complex on Post Road East put out a call: Any artistically inclined owners could contribute art.

The result exceeded their expectations. The walls are brimming with Harvest Commons-created works.

Among the donors: familiar names like Rhonda Bloom, Linda and Al Cassuto, Jo Ann Davidson, Judith Orseck Katz and Toby Michaels

“We are finding more talent by the day,” says organizer Peter Swift. “At the rate we’re going, wall space will be the problem.”

Gives new meaning to the term “resident artists,” right?

Some of the art in the Harvest Commons community room.

======================================================

Connecticut is one of the healthiest states in the country. Yet there are huge disparities between white people, and those of color.

Wesport’s Unitarian Church — long devoted to social justice — hosts a webinar about health inequities, and what can be done about them (including what audience members can do).

“Racial Health Inequities” is set for June 28 at 7 (p.m.). Guest speaker is Rev. Robyn Anderson, director of the Ministerial Health Fellowship. The event is free to all, but advance registration is required.

The webinar is the Unitarian Church’s second in their series “Revealing History: How We Got Here, Why it Matters.”

Rev. Robyn Anderson

=======================================================

“Westport … Naturally” turns today to Saugatuck Shores. This is just one of the  scenes Beth Berkowitz walks by — and loves — every day.

(Photo/Beth Berkowitz)

=======================================================

And finally … on this day in 1967, the 3-day Monterey Pop Festival opened in California. Over 50,000 people were there for the first major American appearances by Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Ravi Shankar; the first large-scale public performance by Janis Joplin and the introduction of Otis Redding to a mass American audience.

If you never watch another “06880” music video, you can’t miss Otis:

“06880” Podcast: Trey Ellis

Trey Ellis is one of the most interesting — and accomplished — people in Westport.

He is a leading chronicle of the Black experience. An award-winning novelist, Emmy and Peabody-honored filmmaker, playwright and professor of screenwriting in the Graduate School at Columbia University, he recently served as executive producer and interviewer for the HBO documentaries “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight For Equality,” and “King in the Wilderness.”

The other day, I spoke with Trey. We talked about writing, creativity, Black lives here and elsewhere, raising children in Westport, and much more.

It was a fascinating, wide-ranging conversation. Click here for the newest “06880: The Podcast” episode.

Screenshot from the Trey Ellis podcast.

Roundup: Leonard Bernstein, Yappy Hour, Kids Talking …

=======================================================

The TriBeca Film Festival is back. This year, it’s very New York-centric.

Among the films: “Bernstein’s Wall.”

The Tribeca website describes the world premiere of the film directed by Westporter Douglas Tirola (4thRow Films; co-founder, Westport’s Remarkable Theater):

In this enlightening look at one of the greatest classical music figures of the 20th century, director Douglas Tirola mines a rich trove of interviews, television appearances, home movie footage, photos, letters to craft a comprehensive look at Leonard Bernstein, whose passion and drive took him well beyond the marvelous music he wrote and conducted.

Spanning the breadth of a life interwoven with key historic moments outside the concert hall, Bernstein’s Wall follows the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant who arrives in New York from his Boston hometown to eventually become conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and becomes a household name thanks to his numerous TV appearances, educating the public on all things symphonic, West Side Story, being seen with celebrities and politicians, and his crossing-the-line activism, from protesting the Vietnam War to (controversially) supporting the Black Panthers.

Tirola incorporates Bernstein’s personal life — his fraught relationship with his father, his marriage, his family life, his struggles to be at peace with his sexuality — to paint a complex portrait of a complex, driven individual who produced some of the most memorable music of his time as a product of those times.

(“Bernstein’s Wall” is available for streaming from June 15-23. Click here for details. Hat tip: Kerry Long)

=======================================================

Yesterday’s Yappy Hour at MoCA Westport was paws-itively cool.

The arts center hosted plenty of dogs (and their owners) on its expansive Newtown Turnpike lawn. Food was collected for PAWS and Westport Animal Shelter Advocates.

Missed yesterday? Doggone it! The next one is July 1.

Yappy Hour at MoCA Westport! The next one will be held on Thursday, July 1.

Yappy hour, yesterday at MoCA Westport.

=====================================================

Just in time for the end of the spring sports season: Westport Rotary Club and the Westport Soccer Association are collecting used soccer uniforms, clothing, shoes, shin guards, balls and other equipment.

They’ll ship it all to Nicaragua. Rotary already works there with NicaPhoteo, a non-profit that helps communities.

The soccer equipment is much needed. Soft backpack bags, old balls, socks, jerseys and shirts — it will all go to good use.

The drop-off location is 5 Sugar Maple Lane, Westport (off Whitney Street). There’s a box on the front porch. Please wash clothing items first!

Questions? Email registrar@westportsoccer.org.

=======================================================

More than 30 years ago, kids were talking.

Dr. Donald Cohen’s nationally televised show — in which, well, kids talked (about everything in their lives) is being relaunched. Fittingly for a new century, it’s a livestream, on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch.

The first episode of the relaunch is tonight (Thursday, June 10), at 7 p.m. The topic is body image and eating disorders. Teenage guests come from Westport — and around the country.

“Kids Are Talking” started in 1990 at Fairfield University. It became a national radio call-in show on WICC, simulcast on Cablevision. In the late ’90s it found a home on WWPT-FM, broadcast from Toquet Hall.

“Kids Are Talking” and its host, Cohen, have been featured on “The CBS Morning Show”  and ABC-TV, as well as in the New York Times.

For more information, click here.

A retro poster.

=======================================================

Traffic is up. Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the Westport Police Department was on the lookout for people not wearing seatbelts.

The campaign — part of the state Department of Transportation’s “Click it or Ticket” campaign — yielded only 6 tickets.

Police call Westport compliance rate “remarkably high.” But until it’s 100%, they’ll stick be looking for infractions.

And don’t forget: After clicking your seatbelt, don’t look at your phone!

=======================================================

TAP Strength Lab is the latest business to join the “Summer of Pride” promotion.

The downtown personalized fitness coaching, therapy, nutrition and preventative health center will donate 10% of the first month of membership (for new members who sign up now through August) to Westport Pride. Mention the code “Summer of Love.”

Oh, yeah: They’ve got a special Pride logo for this month too.

=======================================================

Questions, concerns or just thoughts about Norwalk Hospital?

The local institution hosts an online “Community Update” (June 29, 5:30 to 7 p.m.).

President Peter Cordeau will discuss the latest hospital developments. an independent monitor will report on its review of compliance.

A Q-and-A session follows the presentation. Submit questions in advance by emailing (norwalkhospital.communityrelations@nuvancehealth.org), or call 203-852-2250. Click here for instructions on joining the virtual meeting.

=======================================================

An osprey and a chick are today’s gorgeous “Westport … Naturally” subjects.

(Photo/Franco Fellah)

=======================================================

Patricia Rogers Suda, died peacefully at home on May 24, surrounded by her loving family after a courageous fight against cancer. She was 69.

Born in New Haven, her family moved to Westport in 1959. She graduated in 1970 from Staples High, where she met and married the love of her life, Mark R. Suda.

Patti and Mark moved to Norwalk. They were married for nearly 50 years, before he passed in 2020.

Survivors include sons, Mark Suda Jr. (Michelle) and Joseph Suda (Amy); grandchildren Skyler, Madyson, Samantha and Joseph Jr.; brothers Bill, Paul and John Rogers; sister Janet Aitoro, and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

Patti loved watching her sons in their sports. From Cranbury League baseball and Pop Warner football, to high school baseball and football, she was there. She also enjoyed watching her grandkids in softball, baseball, gymnastics, soccer and hockey.

Patti retired in December 2017 as a bookkeeper after 32 years, to spend time with her family.

Her words to all family and friends are, “Live life to the fullest, with love and respect to others, because you never know what tomorrow brings.”

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Whittingham Cancer Center,  in memory of Patti.

Patti Suda

=======================================================

And finally … Happy Kamehameha Day! The state holiday (one state only!) honors the monarch who first established the unified Kingdom of Hawai’i.

 

Roundup: Craig Melvin, Car Show, Circle Of Friends …

=================================================

Fathers Day is June 20. Which makes a perfect tie-in for Craig Melvin.

The NBC “Today” show anchor — and Westport resident — has just written a new book: Pops: Learning to Be a Son and a Father.

On Thursday, June 17 (7 p.m., in-person and via Zoom) he’ll discuss it — along with fatherhood, addiction and resiliency — in a Westport Library program. He’s got the perfect co-host too: his wife, Lindsay Czarniak. She’s a sportscaster and NFL sideline report for Fox Sports, after 6 years with ESPN.

Melvin calls his book more an investigation than a memoir. It’s an opportunity to better understand his father; to interrogate his family’s legacy of addiction and despair, but also transformation and redemption, and to explore the challenges facing all dads.

Pops also includes tales of the inspiring fathers Melvin has met reporting his “Dads Got This” series on “Today.”

Click here to register, either in-person or via Zoom. Copies of Pops are available for ordering and pickup at the library, or for shipping.

======================================================

Speaking of Fathers Day: Here’s a great event for dads (and their kids) (and spouses).

Westport PAL is sponsoring a car show on June 20 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., railroad station parking lot near Railroad Place and Franklin Street). In addition to cool cars, there’s food and raffle prizes.

Tickets are $15 each. But kids — that is, anyone under 12 — are free. Hey, this is the PAL: Even on Father’s Day, they’re all about the kids.

=======================================================

Circle of Friends is a great group. Young volunteers join children and adults with special needs in an array of social programs and weekly play dates.

On June 23 (Beth Israel Chabad, Norwalk, 6:30 p.m.), an evening of recognition will honor more than 150 teen volunteers.

Special honors go to Staples and Weston High School seniors Benjamin Clachko, Mushka Stone, Harley Bonn, Rebecca Ronai and Lina Singh, for their combined 3,000 “Friendship Hours.”

Other Westport and Weston teens being feted are Oliver Clachko, Hannah Sharkey, Evan Trock, Alexa Anastasi, Emmy Bassler, Hannah Bitsky, Jacob Bitsky, Elyana Blatt, Michael Blishteyn, Haley Bloch, Katie Rose Blumenfeld, Marley Brown, Caroline Caggiano, Otto Learsy-Cahill, Jacob Ceisler, Jessica Dell’Isola, Abby Epstein, Emily Epstein, Genevieve Frucht, Cailen Geller, Jordan Gladstone, Jordana Greenspan, Siyar Jabarkhyl, Rebecca Kanfer, Dwight Koyner, Jessica Koyner, Max Krug, Ryan Lapatine, Madison Lebowitz, Connor McGeehan, Noah Robison, Alexis Rozen, Skylar Shapiro, Brooke Saporta, Anabell Sollinger,Harrison Solomon, James Dobin Smith, Aidan Spellacy, Alexandra Spencer, Raychel Stark, Leiba Stone, Chelsea Strober, Isabel Tobin, Reese Watkins and Madison Wilson.

For moroe information on Circle of Friends, click here, call 203-293-8837 or email cof@circleoffriendsct.org.

=======================================================

The past 15 months have not had much to joke about.

As we emerge from COVID though, there’s plenty to smile about.

There’s no better place than at Homes with Hope’s “Stand-up for Comedy” fundraiser. Set for this Saturday (June 12, 8 p.m.), it’s a livestreamed event with 4 fantastic comedians — and for one of the best non-profits in Fairfield County.

See the link below for comedian details. Then click here for tickets.

=======================================================

“Pink is my favorite color,” says Lauri Weiser. So that makes her photo perfect for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

=======================================================

And finally … Patrick Sky died last month. A folk singing/songwriting contemporary of Dave Van Ronk, Buffy Sainte-Marie and others in the Greenwich Village 1960’s scene, he never achieved their fame. But albums like “Songs That Made America Famous” remain cult classics. Of Irish and Native American ancestry, he mastered the very difficult uilleann pipes late in his career. Click here for his obituary.

 

 

Roundup: VFW, Nemo, LCDS …

 

=======================================================

VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 is one of Westport’s underappreciated, often-overlooked gems.

In addition to providing a home and community for veterans, the building at the Saugatuck Avenue/Riverside Avenue merge offers a restaurant and bar — and a state Veteran’s Service Office, assisting with disability support.

Thanks to 4th Row Films — Westporter Doug Tirola’s great documentary film company — you can learn all about the 100-year-od Westport VFW post, from members themselves. Click the link below; the password is “4throw” (without the quotation marks).

=======================================================

Weather postponed 2 Remarkable Theater showings last week. So get ready this week for …

“Finding Nemo” (tonight, Monday, June 7) and “Rocky Horror Picture Show” (Saturday, June 12). Gates open at 7:30 p.m.; the “curtain” goes up at 8:30.

Click here for tickets and more information. Enjoy the show!

======================================================

A reader writes:

“We are a family of 4, with 3 dogs. When one was hit by a car, we wanted to find another. We ended up at Puppies of Westport (although we said we wouldn’t ever go to a ‘puppy mill’). Lauren Meren, the owner, was very kind. We had health issues with our dog, and she immediately reimbursed us for the hospital stay.

“y vet told me that Lauren recently died. Her children are trying to find homes for all of the dogs in the store. Please highlight this story, so the dogs end up in a loving home instead of a fate much different.”

There has been no answer to phone calls. If “06880” readers have any idea of the fate of the dogs — or how to help — click “Comments” below.

Puppies of Westport –

======================================================

For years, an unattractive concrete tower marred the playground and baseball field behind the Learning Community Day School (formerly Hillspoint Elementary).

Before …

Now — thanks to art teacher Lauren Beusse, her colleagues and (especially) the talented kids, it’s been  transformed beautifully.

Lauren was inspired by Tyree Guyton, a Detroit artist who creates large installations out of dilapidated properties and recycled materials.

Children worked on 6 individual panels, exploring colors and adding their own touches. LCDS says: “the flowers reaching for the sun, and birds and insects flying above, will always remind us of the way young children grow, bloom and take flight during their time here.”

… and after.

======================================================

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo from Lou Weinberg. In addition to overseeing our fantastic Community Garden next to Long Lots Elementary School, he’s a brilliant nature photographer.

Lou says: “The cedar waxwings are tossing them back at the old serviceberry tree. Robins are getting their fill as well. Serviceberry trees are native, and have very high wildlife value.

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

======================================================

Voices Café — the Unitarian Church’s music series — premieres its livestream season on June 19 (8 p.m.). Featured performers are Goodnight Moonshine with Molly Venter (of Red Molly), and Eben Pariser, who also performs with Roosevelt Dime.

For nearly a decade, Voices Café has supported social justice programs. Recognizing the historical significance of this year’s concert date — Juneteenth — proceeds from the performance will benefit the Mary and Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community in Bridgeport. Click here for tickets, and more information.

=======================================================

And finally … in the hopes of finding homes for all the Puppies of Westport (see story above) …

 

Got A Minute? Watch Yesterday’s Parade!

Westport’s Memorial Day parade lasted a bit over an hour. Bands thumped. Gymnasts jumped. First responders, first graders, and the first (and second, and third) selectmen) marched. Floats floated, fire horns tooted, and parents rooted for their young athletes, Scouts, musicians and more.

If you were there, you loved it. If you weren’t — why not?

Either way, you can relive the entire parade right now. Thanks to Nicholas Pisarro Jr., and his magic time-lapse software, you can do it in exactly 1 minute.

Just click on the video below. If you’ve got another minute to spare at the end, you can watch Nick Rossi Jr. — grandson of grand marshal Nick Rossi Sr. — sing the national anthem.

In real time.

“06880, The Podcast”: John Dodig

As Pride Month begins, there is no better LGBTQ role model than John Dodig.

An educator for 47 years, it was only in his last 11 that he was out publicly as a gay man. But what an 11 years those were.

As principal of Staples High School, Dodig fostered an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance for all. He was admired and adored by students, staff, and the entire community.

But it took a lifetime of struggle for Dodig to get there.

The other day, I sat with him in the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum. We talked about his career in education, his journey as a gay man, and what it all means for him and our community today.

As always, Dodig was clear, honest, incisive, and very funny. Click here for the newest “06880: The Podcast” interview.

Happy Pride!

Screenshot from John Dodig’s podcast interview.

Roundup: Black Bear, Private Ryan, Chad Knight …

===================================================

A black bear has been making its way south, from northern Fairfield County. On Saturday, it roamed around the Cranbury area of Norwalk.

Yesterday, the medium-sized mammal lumbered into Westport. Stella Wong spotted it in her Old Hill back yard, around 9 a.m.

“It looked healthy and beautiful,” she reports. Then it headed downhill, toward Wilton Road.

(Photo/Stella Wong)

Later yesterday, the bear was spotted at the Westport Weston Family YMCA, near Mahackeno.

No word on whether it had a membership pass.

======================================================

Last night’s Remarkable Theater showing of “Saving Private Ryan” was rained out.

It’s rescheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, June 1, 8 p.m.). So you can extend your Memorial Day weekend one day.

Click here for ticket information, and future shows.

======================================================

Staples High School students raise funds for many worthy projects. They thank their donors, work hard — but in their busy day-to-day worlds, never share the results of their efforts.

Jackson Cregan remembers.

The 9th grader loves Sherwood Island. After raising funds for Friends of Sherwood Island, he sent along this update:

“100%  of your donations were used to purchase seagrass and jute erosion control cloth, trees and shrubs.

“In early April, I helped restore dunes. We planted 2,400 seagrass stems with 18 volunteers. In late April, we planted 125 trees and shrubs with 20 volunteers.

Jackson volunteers there nearly every week. He is learning from Michele Sorensen and other master gardeners. He helps with dune restoration, removing invasive species, tree planting, creating pollinator pathways, and maintenance.

Great work, Jackson! And thanks for letting all of us know what’s going on at our great state park.

Jackson Cregan, with Michele Sorenson.

======================================================

Congratulations to Chad Knight!

Yesterday the former Staples High School and Little League World Series star’s current team — Duke University — won the ACC championship, 1-0 over NC State. It was the Blue Devils’ 4th ACC baseball title — but first in 60 years.  

Knight — a 2-time state champion at Staples — batted .272, with 2 home runs, this year.

Chad Knight

=======================================================

Memorial Day weekend’s rains meant a washout for many local businesses.

News12 sent a crew to Joey’s by the Shore. As expected, sales were slow. The popular deli/market had stocked up on supplies, expecting big crowds. But neighbors were stopping in. And the cameraman got some great shots, of Joey’s and Old Mill Beach.

Click here for the report.

Screenshot from yesterday’s News12 report.

======================================================

The Sunrise Rotary Club has missed 2 years’ worth of Great Duck Race fundraising efforts. Which means we haven’t seen Sunny the Duck bobbing in the Saugatuck River for 2 years either.

But the club is marching in today’s Memorial Day parade. And they’re marching with “Little Ralphie,” Sunny’s smaller counterpart.

Club members inflated Ralphie yesterday. They had a blast.

From left: Sunrise Rotary president George Masumian; members Jake Labate, Mark Mathias and Mike Hibbard. Little Ralphie is behind them. (Drone photo/Mark Mathias)

=======================================================

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo includes this mommy and her 10 babies. Can you find them all?

(Photo/Molly Alger)

=======================================================

And finally … B.J. Thomas died yesterday at his home near Dallas, of complications from lung cancer. He was 78.

Though best known for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” — the song from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which connected him forever with Westport’s Paul Newman and Weston’s Robert Redford — he had many other successes. Fifteen singles reached the Top 10, and he earned 5 Grammys.

I never liked “Raindrops.” But I sure did appreciate much of the rest of B.J. Thomas’ music. What a voice! (Click here for a full obituary.)