Category Archives: Organizations

Roundup: Census, Bloodroot, Shorefest, More


As the 2020 census continues, Westport’s self-response rate is 76.2%. That’s well above the rate for the state of Connecticut: 69.4%. (The figures include responses from all known addresses.)

Officials urge anyone who has not completed the census to do so. Census data informs how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed for health clinics, school lunch programs, disaster recovery initiatives, and other critical programs and services for the next 10 years.

Click here to complete the census response. Click here to see Westport’s response rate. (Hat tip: Peter Gold)


The Westport Farmers’ Market has offered great, healthy food for more than a decade.

Bloodroot has done the same for nearly half a century more.

The Bridgeport feminist vegetarian restaurant/bookstore — opened in the 1970s by Westporters Noel Furie and Selma Miriam, nurtured by ever since and still run by the indefatigable women — is the subject of a new documentary.

“Bloodroot” premieres Sunday, September 20 (7 p.m.). The film will be shown at the Imperial Avenue parking lot — home to the Remarkable Theater and its partner for this showing, the Westport Farmers’ Market.

The film — about feminism as well as food — is an homage to Furie and Miriam, says WFM executive director Lori Cochran-Dougall. They are longtime supporters of the market, and a mentor to its director. Click here for tickets.

Three local restaurants are offering tailgating options for the documentary.

Terrain’s $50 box for 2 people includes tomato salad, kale falafel and blackberry pie. Click here for ordering information.

Manna Toast’s offering ($20 for 2) includes choice of toast, salad, rosemary popcorn and iced tea. Click here to order.

Kawa Ni’s dinner ($60 plus tax and 3% kitchen share, for 2) includes tsukemono, shaved broccoli miso goma, tomato tofu pockets and a bun bowl. Call 203-557-8775 to order by 4 p.m. on September 18.

(Form left): Noel Furie and Selma Miriam, Bloodroot founders.


Speaking of food: Friends of Sherwood Island — members of the organization with that name, and those who merely love Connecticut’s 1st state park, a 236-acre gem hidden right on the Westport coast — are invited to an important fundraiser.

Shorefest on a Roll rolls out Sunday, September 20. Guests will enjoy a rolling tour of the park, accompanied by a podcast describing its fascinating history and its many features — plus a “lobster roll to go” feast.

The event includes a field of whirligigs, exotic kites, disc golf exhibitions, musical performances and model plane flyovers at the park airfield, all while cruising the loop at 10 miles an hour.

The only stop is near the end of the tour to pick up hot or cold lobster roll dinners. The entire loop takes 12 minutes.

Click here for tickets. Proceeds support Friends’ efforts, including the newly renovated Nature Center, tree planting, maintenance of the vast purple martin colony, and the 9/11 Memorial.


Dog-gone it!

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce held out as long as they could. But the 5th Annual Westport Dog Festival — set for October 4, after being rescheduled from May — has been canceled.

That’s the second major event — following Slice of Saugatuck — shelved by the Chamber, due to the coronavirus.

But they’re running concerts both weekends. Terrapin: The Grateful Dead Experience performs tonight, in a sold-out show. Two other shows are slated for October 2 and 3. Tickets go on sale next week. For more information, click here.


And finally … as we remember 9/11:

Roundup: School Traffic, Football, Yarn Day, More


Sure, half of all Bedford Middle and Staples High School students are not on campus, at any given time.

But with most parents opting to drive and pick up their youngsters — some buses reportedly carry only 1 or 2 kids — traffic on North Avenue and nearby streets has been heavy, at the start and finish of the school days.

It may take a few days to sort out what works. Until then: Avoid those areas at those times if you can.

Bedford Middle School traffic, yesterday afternoon. (Photo/Adam Vengrow)


It’s a win-win: The Westport Library and the Ruden Report.

Ruden — a Staples High School graduate whose website, Instagram and Facebook platforms are the go-to sources for coverage of Fairfield County high school sports —  are collaborating on a new project: The Ruden Report Live at the Library.

The show debuts today (Thursday, September 10, 7 p.m.) from the Library’s Forum. Tonight’s topic: the recent decision to cancel this year’s high school football season. Guests include noted New Canaan High coach Lou Marinelli, St. Joseph’s Jack Wallace (2019 Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year), and Jeff Jacobs, sports columnist at GameTime CT and Hearst Media CT.

Upcoming Ruden Reports will be recorded in the libary’s media studios. Some shows will be streamed live.

Ruden has been a sportswriter for over 35 years. He has written for the New York Times, and worked at ESPN and CBS Sports. 

Dave Ruden at work.


Speaking of sports: Staples football players joined hundreds of others from around the state yesterday in Hartford. They protested the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and state Department of Public Health decision to cancel this fall’s high school football season.

Tonight at 7 p.m., former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox News anchor (and Westport resident) Dave Briggs interviews Wrecker head football coach Adam Behrends on Instagram Live. You can hear the discussion @WestportMagazine.

A small part of the large crowd in Hartford yesterday. (Photo/Dave Briggs)


This Saturday is Local Yarn Store Day. And Westport’s local yarn store — called, appropriately enough, Westport Yarns — is celebrating big time.

The shop across from Fresh Market offers free 45-minute lessons at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Three people (12 years old and over) will get yarn and needles, and learn how to knit. At 12 and 2 p.m., there are free crochet lessons. To register, call 203-454-4300.

In addition, there are hand-dyed yarns for purchase. Earlier this year, a similar trunk show sold out quickly.

Rumor has it that Westport’s yarn bomber may stop by. No promises, but hey. You never know.

One of the yarn bomber’s first works, at fire headquarters. Westport Yarns is just a few yards away. (Photo/Molly Alger)


Speaking of cars: After a careful look at COVID requirements and a review with town officials, organizers have canceled the Concours and “Cars & Coffee” events set for October 4, in downtown Westport.

However, the “Tour d’Caffeine” is still on. The socially distanced ride through Fairfield County’s back roads ends with lunch at the Redding Roadhouse. It is limited to the first 25 who sign up. Click here to register.


And finally … in honor of Local Yarn Store Day:

Roundup: Big Top Ribs, “Best In Show”, EV Club, More


Owner Pete Aitkin wants to add some new “flashback” items to the Black Duck menu.

And he needs “06880” readers’ help.

“Many readers have fond memories of the Big Top,” he says, referencing the beloved, mouth-watering burgers-and-more joint on the Post Road and Roseville Road that is now (aaaargh) McDonald’s. “Some even worked there.”

Pete wonders: What kind of ribs did they serve? Baby backs? Beef? He thinks they were pork spare ribs. Any info on sauce or seasoning would be great too.

Email duckpeter78@gmail.com, or call 203-227-7978.


Yesterday marked the start of another school. It’s different than any that came before. But — as students, staff and parents saw yesterday at Coleytown Elementary School — some things never change:

(Photo/Stephanie Mastocciolo)


The Artists Collective of Westport knows about shows. So they’re proud to collaborate with the Remarkable Theater on a showing of “Best in Show.”

The drive-in movie — a biting satire about dog shows — will be shown Thursday, September 17 at 8 p.m. at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. The gate opens at 7.

Tickets are $50 per car. Click here to reserve.


Who says parades must be loud?

The EV Club of Connecticut is sponsoring a (socially distanced) electric car parade. It’s set for Sunday, September 27 (check-in at 9:30 a.m.

It starts at 10 a.m. at the eastbound Westport train station, by Donut Crazy. The parade ends at Fairfield’s Old Town Hall.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas will lead the parade in the department’s Tesla Model 3 police cruiser.

All makes of EV are welcome. To register, click here.

The Westport Police Department’s electric car.


And finally … today is September 9. Which means, whether you’re using American or European style, it’s 9/9. Which means …

 

Unsung Hero #158

Alice Ely writes:

As gardens chair at Wakeman Town Farm, I’ve had the privilege of knowing Staples High School senior Teagan Smith since she first volunteered in 2017.

She has stepped up to help the planet in ways large and small for her entire high school career. As a freshman she began with the fall harvest, and kept coming. Year after year, she has been on hand and willing to do any job – which at the farm are mostly dirty ones.

Teagan Smith, scrambling to help.

It quickly became apparent that Teagan’s passion is sustainability. Eager to learn more, she has been a quick study of the farm’s sustainable practices, such as composting, winter sowing and non-chemical pest controls.

She has educated visitors about what does (and does not) go in recycling. She reached out to officials at the town Department of Public Works, and created her own flyer of creative recycling projects.

As an upperclassman with many interests and responsibilities, Teagan has continued to make time for the farm. This summer she worked as a Save the Sound intern taking water samples, but still managed a significant commitment to WTF.

She set up the farm stand every Saturday morning, showcasing veggies and flowers in beautiful displays that attracted record numbers of customers. She even shows up for 7 a.m. stints on weekdays!

Teagan Smith, at the WTF farm stand.

Her quiet competence and leadership make it easy for a new crop of volunteers to follow her example.

This year she the helm of Staples’ Club Green. We look forward to hearing what the club tackles next.

For the rest of this challenging year — and, we suspect, the rest of her life — the world will look a little greener because of Teagan Smith.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Teagan Smith, down at Wakeman Town Farm.

 

LWV Offers ABCs On Election Ballots

If you’re confused about when and where to vote this November: You’re not alone.

COVID-19 — and a nationwide move toward mail ballots — make this election different for many Connecticut voters.

Westport’s League of Women Voters won’t tell you who to vote for. But they’re happy to tell you how.

First, there are 2 options. You can vote in person on Tuesday, November 3 (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.). Click here to find your polling place.

You can also vote by mail. Every registered voter will receive (by mail) an application to request an absentee ballot. They’ll be sent within the first 2 weeks of September. If you don’t want to wait, click here to request an absentee ballot.

Fill out the absentee ballot application, then mail it ASAP to Town Clerk, c/o Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880. Alternatively, you can put it in the official Connecticut drop box behind Town Hall (see photo below).

The Town Clerk’s office will mail out absentee ballots beginning October 2. Or you can make an appointment with the office to receive your ballot in person; call 203-341-1110.

Fill out your ballot, then mail it ASAP to Town Clerk, c/o Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880. Alternatively, you can put it in the official Connecticut drop box behind Town Hall (see photo above).

The ballot must be returned to the Town Clerk’s office no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day (November 3). The drop box behind Town Hall will be open until 8 p.m. that day.

If you mail your absentee ballot via the US Postal Service, or deposited it in the drop box, you can click here to track it.  If the ballot was not received, contact the town clerk (tclerk@westportct.gov; 203-341-1110).

Of course, none of that can happen unless you’re registered to vote. Click here to learn how.

(For the Town Clerk’s web page — with even more details on voting — click here. For more information on Westport’s League of Women Voters, click here. You can follow them on Instagram [@lwvwestport] and Facebook [Westport League of Women Voters. Hat tip: Nicole Klein)

 

Roundup: American Graffiti, Baseball, Parking, More


“American Graffiti” is a classic end-of-summer film. Which makes it an appropriate — if last-minute — choice for tonight at the Remarkable Theater.

Showtime on Imperial Avenue is 7:45 p.m. And it’s half price! Click here for tickets.


Mark your calendar! Director/producer/screenwriter Craig Davidson’s “Island of Baseball” will be available for streaming through the Harlem International Film Festival at 7 p.m. on September 13. (Click here for more information.)

The documentary explores the special relationship between baseball in Cuba and the US, and the central role of Black Americans and Afro-Cubans in that history.

Covering American Negro Leaguers, major leaguers and Cubans of every race, it offers insights into the complexities of race in both nations in the first half of the 20th century, and the crucial role Cuba played in breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball — an important early success of the civil rights movement.

Davidson is a 1970 Staples High School graduate. He’s also the owner of Westport’s greatest Ebbets Field mural. It decorates the inside of his fence, near Compo Beach.

Click below to see the trailer. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)


New Westport resident Mike Zitomer spotted these contradictory signs by Church Lane. He wonders what to do.


And finally … time for a little “September Grass.” Thank you, James Taylor!

 

Roundup: Kneads Opens, School Begins, More

If you thought Saugatuck “kneads” something to replace Garelick & Herbs: You’re in luck.

“Kneads” — a bakery, cafe and mill — opened Saturday, across from Saugatuck Sweets. Chef Daniel Moreno offers breakfast, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastries, coffee, tea — and of course breads (sourdough, baguette, fig cranberry walnut, brioche …).

He focuses on local products. There’s bacon and ham from Fleischer’s next door. Moreno has partnered too with chef Bill Taibe of The Whelk across the street, as well as the Westport Farmer’ market and Wakeman Town Farm.

If your mouth is watering though, you’ll have to wait. Kneads is closed Monday and Tuesday. It’s open Wednesday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Click here for more info, from Stephanie Webster’s great CTbites.


Here’s something you haven’t seen in nearly 6 months.

But tomorrow — for the first time since mid-March — school buses will prowl the streets of Westport. It will almost feel good to get stuck behind one again.

The other day, this driver practiced turning from Thomas Road onto Imperial Avenue.

(Photo/Christie Stanger)


Trevor Freeland was a member of the first all-Black team to reach the top ranks of American youth swimming (chronicled in the 2007 movie “Pride”). As the first Black swimmer to compete in the ACC, he helped the University of Virginia win the 1st of 16 league titles.

One of the few Black executives to run a major Wall Street trading desk, he has committed his life to challenging and breaking down barriers. He attributes his success to the work ethic and life skills he learned in the pool.

This Saturday (September 12, 9:30 a.m., Camp Mahackeno outdoor amphitheater), he’ll talk about “Excellence is a Habit: How Do You Shatter Racial Barriers, Win Championships, and Build a Life of Success?”

A limited number of spots are open to Y members who are not non-Water Rat swimmers, and their families. To register, or for questions, email ejohnston@westporty.org,

Trevor Freeland


Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 8, 7:30 p.m.), the Democratic Women of Westport are sponsoring a virtual discussion with Connecticut Attorney General William Tong. He’ll discuss immigration issues.

To register and receive a link, email dww06880@gmail.com

State Attorney General William Tong.


Dick Festa — longtime owner of the Party Barn store, first on Main Street and then in Playhouse Square — died last week in Florida. He was 87.

Dick spent many years on the Westport YMCA’s board of directors. He was also an avid squash and badminton player there.

He is survived by 4 children, 4 grandchildren, a great-granddaughter and his sister.

There will be no calling hours, due to COVID-19. A memorial service will take place at a future date. For Dick’s full obituary, click here.


Alert “06880” reader Tommy Magro tells us that this year, Good Humor celebrates its 100th anniversary.

He spotted this classic scene yesterday, on Soundview Drive. He’s to 100 more years of Toasted Almonds (or whatever your favorite happens to be).

(Photo/Tommy Magro)


And finally … “06880,” Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie wish you a Happy Labor Day!

Roundup: Jazz, Food, Black History, More


Outdoor entertainment returned to MoCA Westport last night. A socially distanced crowd enjoyed Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Alexa Tarantino Quartet.

More concerts will be announced soon.

Outdoors at MoCA.

With food insecurity still a serious issue, the Westport Woman’s Club Food Closet is grateful for a nice donation from Westport National Bank.

Any organizations or family can donate food to neighbors in need. Bring non-perishable donations to the WWC 44 Imperial Avenue) from 9 a.m. to onoon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If the clubhouse is locked, call 203-227-4240.

Monetary donations are also welcome. Click here, or send a check made out to Westport Woman’s Club to WWC, 44 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT  06880.

At the Westport Woman’s Club food pantry (from left); Wendy McKeon, WWC food closet co-chair; Robin Clark, WWC member and Westport National Bank vice president; Selma Blue, WNB head teller.


The “hidden history of Black Westport” will be visible to Westporters next Saturday (September 12, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.)

As a follow-up to the Westport Museum of History & Culture’s “Remembered: The History of African Americans in Westport” exhibit, guides will lead tour groups (maximum of 10 people) throughout downtown.

They’ll describe local history, from enslaved people to soldiers, sailors, activists, artists, and respected residents, through existing buildings and long destroyed sites.

Tickets are $10. Reservations are required; click here to register. Foe moew information, email programs@westporthistory.org.


Aarti Khosla needs help in providing chocolate hearts to every Westport and Weston educator, as a show of thanks for all they do. 10% of all proceeds benefit another educational institution: Mercy Learning Center.

Click here to purchase hearts ($8 each). You can also stop by Aarti’s store, Le Rouge Chocolates (190 Main Street).

 


The final (and 15th) #FridayFlowers are on display at the Compo Beach lifeguard station. The Westport Garden Club — sponsor of the summer-long floral project — is grateful to the guards, and everyone at Westport Parks & Rec — for keeping our beaches safe and fun.

Pictured below (from left): David Levy, Noah Ross, Mia Parkes, Ella Thompson and Avery Tucker.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)

RTM representative and Westport Writers Workshop founder Jessica Bram undergoes brain surgery at Yale University Hospital this morning.

Doctors will drain excess hydration to reverse motor, cognitive and memory impairment resulting from a recent fall.

Jessica sends affection and high regard to the Westport community, past and current writing students, RTM colleagues, and Webb Road neighbors.


And finally … today is National Be Late for Something Day. I’ll have a song for you later. Maybe.

Roundup: School Calendar And Kudos, Fitness, Fishing, More


The start of school may look unfamiliar — including the calendar.

But when you look at the Westport School Student Art calendar, you’ll realize that some things never change. Fortunately.

Despite disruption, the Westport Public Art Collections has produced its 2020-21 calendar. As always, it features great K-12 student art

Calendars can be purchased online (click here) and at ASF Sports & Outdoors (1560 Post Road East).

As always, proceeds support the care and maintenance of the fabulous Westport Public Art Collections. Works hang in all public buildings and are placed in outdoor parks. The most recent addition: the “Rock, Paper, Scissors” sculpture donated by Staples graduates Ann Sheffer and Bill Scheffler, to be installed soon near the Westport Library.

The cover of the 2020-21 Westport Public Schools calendar was drawn by Sophia Sheng, Coleytown Elementary School 5th grader.


Speaker of back-to-school: Staples High School teachers Deirdre Flores and Sarah Stanley spotted this sign on Pumpkin Hill Road.

As they stopped to take a picture, the homeowner cheered them — and thanked them from her porch. It made their day — and made them proud of what they do, and where they do it.


Missing your fitness? Wondering how you’ll survive whatever’s ahead when the weather turns cooler? Thought about taking a fitness class, but uncertain about how they work?

Head downtown on Saturday, September 12.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association sponsors its first Health and Fitness Expo. JoyRide, RowHouse, Pure Barre and Athleta will all stage live classes outdoors, on Main Street. All will include levels of fitness and ability. All will of course follow COVID-19 requirements.

Vendors will also present health and fitness concepts. Church Lane merchants may join in too.

For more information — including how your business can participate — email events1@westportdma.com.


As summer ends, a shout-out to Alec Udell. Son of Staples grad Jeff Udell, he was visiting his grandmother Judy and went fishing at Compo, on the jetty by the cannons.

Using very light tackle, he caught this 30-inch striped bass. After a photo op, Alec released it safely back into the water.


And finally … today in 1888, George Eastman patented the first roll-film camera, and registered the name “Kodak.”

Roundup: COVID Testing, College Help, Gatsby in Connecticut, More


A reader writes:

“I just got myself and my kids tested at St Vincent’s Medical Center drive-thru at 47 Long Lots Road.

“I called 860-972-8100 this morning, got an appointment (no symptoms, no suspected contact, just routine — I wanted a baseline before school starts).

“We drove straight over (they are open 8 a.m. to noon). There was no line, no cost, just a gentle nose swab. They said results would be available in 3-5 days. We got ours in 1 day!

“Boom! Easy! In my opinion, we should/could all be doing this before school starts.”


Since 1952, STAR Lighting the Way has helped people of all ages impacted by intellectual and developmental disabilities live full, independent  lives.

They’re now launching a broader multi-lingual program for children experiencing, or at risk of, developmental delays. It expands services from birth through age 5, with additional options for children up to 8.

It includes direct coaching intervention by licensed occupational, physical, speech and behavioral therapists, and special education teachers; developmental evaluations and consultations; transition to school support; group activities (birth to age 5) like feeding, movement, play and music groups, plus additional services (6 to 8) including behavioral supports, assistive technology, translation and family supports.

For more information, email Barbara Fitzpatrick (starrubino@starct.org), or call 203-855-0634.


There’s a new college counseling service in town. And the counselors are not even out of college.

Nishika Navrange and Genevieve Demenico are 2019 Staples High School graduates. Both are products of the entire Westport school system. They were presidents of Staples’ Science Olympiad team and members of numerous honor societies. They attend NYU and Georgetown Universities (right now, online). So they know high school — and college.

Through Zoom and outdoor, socially distanced meetings, they offer essay help (“it’s a narrow way of writing, and we help keep the student’s personal voice,” they say), Common App advice, and counsel on where to apply.

Because they know students at “nearly every popular school,” Neshika and Genevieve can connect high schoolers with current collegians, for a personal connection and even (when they resume) a college tour.

For more information, email ctcollegeconsultants@gmail.com.

Genevieve Demenico and Nishika Navrange.


“Gatsby in Connecticut” — the video by Robert Steven Williams chronicling F. Scott Fitzgerald’s time in Westport, and its impact on his classic novel (with Sam Waterston as the writer, and voiceover by Keir Dullea) — is now available to rent, download or buy.

It’s available on Amazon Instant, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango Now, Vimeo, Microsoft Xbox and YouTube, and via most cable providers. Click here for the trailer.

And click here to read an insightful review from The New Yorker. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)


And finally … what was the most popular song of 1920, the year F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald lived in Westport (as noted above)? It was “Swanee” by Al Jolson — shown here in what to our eyes, 100 years later, is jarringly inappropriate blackface.