Category Archives: Saugatuck

Roundup: Yarn Bombing; Coffee Roasting; Black Duck; More


Everyone loves the Yarn Bomber. Now you can learn her secrets.

No, not who she is. Even better: how she does it.

The Yarn Bomber is bringing her talents — decorating trees and street signs in beautiful, uplifting colors — to the masses. She’s created a virtual knitting course, and anyone can join.

For just $50 you get needles, starter yarn, 5 days of instruction (1 hour a day), knitting videos, online tutorials, and a live public socially distanced yarn bomb at a scheduled date. All supplies can be picked up will at Westport Yarns.

The Yarn Bomber can also accommodate custom group sessions for groups (minimum of 6 participants).

Email yarnbalmer@gmail.com for more information.

Yarn bombing at Compo Beach (Photo/Judy Auber Jahnel)


There are plenty of places to buy coffee in Saugtuck, from Dunkin’ to Donut Crazy.

There may soon be one more.

A sign next to Tutti’s — in the storefront occupied briefly by a kombucha bar — advertises ILSE Coffee. It’s the work of 2013 Staples High School graduate Lucas Smith, and Rebecca Grossman.

They started a Kickstarter campaign. Their goal is to open a “dream cafe and marketplace.” The roastery/market will include specialty coffee, pastries, sandwiches, small plates and to-go food, along with wine, beer, cocktails and retail items. They hope to host coffee cuppings, seminars and workshops too.

The goal is $10,000. The deadline is August 1.

As of yesterday though, the Kickstarter drive was $9,999 short.

Lucas Smith, in the Saugatuck space.


Speaking of Saugatuck — here’s the news you’ve all been waiting for:

The Black Duck is back open!

Just in time for summer, all’s right with the world.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)


Uncertain weather today forced a postponement of the Supper & Soul Drive-in/Tailgate Concert. The event — featuring the Tom Petty Project — is now set for Sunday (July 5, 6 p.m.).

Tickets for tonight’s show can be used on the new date. If you can’t make the new date, contact the sponsoring Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce (matthew@westportwestonchamber.com). There’s a wait list for the sold-out show.

During the show, anyone with comments or concerns should call 203-851-2771.

The Chamber and Westport Library will also hold a streaming concert next Sunday (July 11). Part of Supper & Soul, it features the ’80s hair band Mullett. Tickets are $10.80. Click here for details.


In these challenging times, support groups are more important than ever.

But physical distancing and other rules make it challenging for organizations to offer that support.

Positive Directions — the Westport-based prevention and counseling agency — can help. They offer free, weekly virtual support groups for people trying to achieve healthy lifestyles, after battling substance abuse addiction.

There are special sessions too for family members, and young adults. Click here for details.


Kami Evans — who as “Kami’s Kloud” provided tons of Westport information on social media platforms — will move back here with her family in August. She’s been in England since 2018.

Her newest project is working on a global social media campaign, incorporating local artists. Her first video stars Westport’s own Rosie Jon. Born without arms, she paints (beautifully) with her toes.

Rosie’s current project — #WeAreOne — is “so poignant right now,” Kami says.

Click below for Rosie’s video. Click here for links to all of Kami’s platforms.


Westporters Chris and Amy Overman were ready to start a family. Yet at 38, Amy struggled with infertility. For 6 years, the couple tried many treatments.

After 13 failed cycles — including IUI, IVF and stem treatments — Amy read a chapter in her infertility book that many people skip: egg donation.

It’s expensive. But the Overmans received an egg donation. They’re now the proud parents of a son, Ryder.

Two years later, Amy paid it forward. She gave $10,000 to the Norwalk-based Nest Egg Foundation — and called it the  Ryder Grant. Now, someone else can benefit from an egg donation.

The Foundation’s application window for the 2020 fertility grant program runs through July 31. Connecticut and New York residents are eligible.

For more information, including grant application eligibility criteria and how to become a donor, click here


And finally … a fitting tribute to the late John Prine.

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Looking west across the river (Photo/Mike Hibbard)

Roundup: Sea Kayak; Scream; Piping Plovers; More


When DownUnder went down under last fall, Saugatuck lost a special business. And recreation-seekers lost a Riverside (Avenue and description) site for kayak and paddle board rentals.

The space has been filled. The new tenant is … Sea Kayak Connecticut.

After 10 years in Wilton — using trailers to serve the state launch site across the river under I-95, as well as a state pond — owner David McPherson has moved to the visible and very active spot next to Saugatuck Sweets.

Sea Kayak offers rentals (single and double kayaks, stand up paddle boards); gear; instruction — and tours (Saugatuck River and Westport coast, sunset, full moon, and private outings).

Click here for more information.


This weekend’s Remarkable Theater films — “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Caddyshack” — sold out the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

This Thursday (July 2), the pop-up drive-in shifts from comedy to horror. “Scream” hits the big screen.

Parking begins at 7:45 a.m. The pre-show is on at 8:30; the movie starts at sunset (8:45-ish). Tickets go on sale Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

PS: The Remarkable Theater hopes to show 2 more films each week, throughout the summer. That’s contingent on Board of Selectmen approval.


Peter Green reports:

While many residents have enjoyed watching the Compo Beach American oystercatcher chicks grow into juvenile birds, the federally endangered piping plover pair have taken turns sitting on their 3 eggs

Until yesterday! Hatching occurred early in the morning. This is the the first time piping plovers have successfully bred, nested and fledged chicks at Compo Beach.

Visitors should tread carefully. The young chicks — which look like cotton balls with legs — are easy to miss. The tiny birds will forage for food on the beach.

Thanks to the town of Westport for helping Beth Amendola from Audubon Connecticut with this success story.

(Photo/Peter Green)


And finally … Bob Dylan released another album this month. He’s had an astonishing career (and a Nobel Prize to show for it).

But hardly anything compares to this 1963 masterpiece. It’s just as fitting today as 57 years ago — when he sang it with Joan Baez at the memorable August March on Washington, just minutes before Martin Luther King proclaimed “I have a dream …”

There are too many great versions of this song to select just one. So take your pick. Or listen to them all.

 

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Seen on the Saugatuck, from Rive Bistro (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

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Saugatuck River and I-95 bridge (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

COVID Roundup: Kayak, Paddle Rentals; Principal’s Personal Notes; Roly Poly; More


Longshore Sailing School opens today — in phases.

Phase 1 is kayak and paddleboard rentals online. Tomorrow (Monday, June 1), those rentals are available online, and for walk-ins.

Wednesday (June 3) is the first day for sailboat and catamaran rentals. Online reservations are suggested; walk-ins are first-come, first-served.

Click here to reserve. NOTE: Renters must present a license or photo ID at the office.

(Photo/Anne Bernier)


It’s been quite a first year for Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas.

No one could have predicted what happened in March — or since then. But in addition to shepherding the school through distance learning, keeping the lines of communication open with a series of warm, informative videos, and doing thousands of other things that no one ever taught in his education classes, the popular principal hand-wrote congratulatory notes to graduating seniors.

All 433 of them.

It doesn’t make up for what the Class of 2020 missed during their final 3 months. But if anyone still keeps scrapbooks, a note like that should go right in front.


As restaurants throughout Westport reopen, Roly Poly is closing.

Yesterday, employees were wrapping up the final wraps. The longtime franchise on Saugatuck Avenue could not make it through the COVID crisis.


The Fine Arts Festival was supposed to be this weekend. It’s been postponed. The new dates are October 17-18.

But you can still see and buy beautiful paintings, sculptures and photos from the artists who would have lined Main Street today.

Click here to browse. Then mark your calendars for the live event this fall.


One more piece of proof that Westport is on its way to reopening fully:

Our self-important, really obnoxious entitled bad parkers are back!

Compo Shopping Center (Photo/Michael Newman)

And finally … Tyrone Davis nails it:

Ssaugatuck Rowing Club Pulls Together In Pandemic

The boats are out of the water. The Boathouse restaurant has served only curbside and takeout meals. Yet despite the pandemic, the Saugatuck Rowing Club has been almost as busy as ever.

In true rise-to-the-challenge fashion, as soon as management realized closure was imminent, they reacted. They created website with a video library and daily livestream and Zoom classes.

Members had a choice: continue paying dues (if possible) for access to the “virtual club” site, or freezing their membership. Paying dues would allow the club to continue paying staff. Over 50 employees are being paid during the shudown, thanks to many members and owner Howard Winklevoss.

Saugatuck Rowing Club (Drone photo/Ward French)

US Rowing cancelled all regattas through June, which devastated dozens of young rowers. Parents had paid all racing fees in advance. But instead of requesting refunds, they donated the entire sum — $12,000 — to Feed the Frontline, a program that supports healthcare and other essential employees, while providing work to area restaurants.

Of course, like many restaurants The Boathouse at Saugatuck Rowing Club was  itself struggling. After reading an “06880” story about meal trains — SRC’s Diana Kuen had an idea: give food directly to Norwalk Hospital.

She sent an email to club members. In 3 days she raised over $8,500 — enabling The Boathouse to prepare 160 meals a week for the hospital.

Delivering Boathouse meals to Norwalk Hospital.

Kuen thanks the Saugatuck Rowing Club’s generous members — and the greater Westport community — for their contributions of over $20,000 to help feed healthcare workers, and keep local restaurants (including their own) afloat.

As for rowing itself: That’s continuing too (virtually). The 5-straight national champion junior girls and other teams are training on their own at home. Many have their own indoor machines. For those who do not, the club lent 65 ergometer rowing machines, and 12 erg bikes.

Ahead: next month’s online national event.

Meanwhile, with Connecticut restaurants reopening, The Boathouse offers outdoor dining. The view is great.

And — because privately owned boats are allowed on the water — you’ll see the welcome sight of rowers gracefully (and powerfully) plying the river once again.

The Saugatuck Rowing Club has weathered the pandemic. As always, everyone there is a winner.

(For a free 3-day pass to the Saugatuck Rowing Club’s online workout library and livestreams, click here. Questions? Email dkuen@saugatuckrowing.com)

A welcome sight. (Photo/Diana Kuen)

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Dock behind Parker Mansion (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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Old Mill, in yesterday’s early morning fog … (Photo/Roseann Spengler)

… and then, after it lifted, the Cribari Bridge (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

COVID Roundup: Town Hall; Therapists’ Webinar; EMS Week; More


Rsetaurant, stores and offices are beginning to open. What about Town Hall?

Town staff are staggering shifts and remote work, to provide all town services to the public.

Appointments are accepted for complex matters. Staff members are doing their best to answer phone calls, and try to return all voicemails and emails within 24 hours.

Click here for a staff directory, or visit departmental pages for instructions on how to conduct business with a specific department.

Town Hall (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)


As shuttered Westport businesses open up, they’ll soon welcome a newcomer.

Garelick & Herbs’ Saugatuck location — which closed in late February, just a couple of weeks before the coronavirus swept through — will become Kneads.

A sign calls it a “bakery, cafe and mill.” It’s “coming soon.”

(Photo/Wendy Cusick)


Happy EMS Week!

In honor of our great crew — especially during the pandemic — 1st Selectman Jim Marpe says: “EMS practitioners are professionals of the highest caliber; keeping up with the latest training to ensure that they know the most effective life-saving emergency treatments that will benefit us all. As dedicated first responders, Westport’s Volunteer EMS provides immediate care during a health crisis; whether there is an accident or an illness, these trained professionals work around the clock to make sure care is available quickly for all our residents and those in need.

“We in Westport join those across the nation in honoring the valuable and vital contributions that EMS practitioners provide each and every day. With gratitude and appreciation, we express our deepest thanks for all our EMS professionals do for our community.”


You’ve got relationship questions? Jennifer Strom, Samantha Lavy have answers.

Or at least, they can help you frame your thoughts better.

The local marriage and family therapists — both mothers of teenagers — see many families navigating a new world filled with uncertainty, loss and changes in routine. Teenagers in particular have lost social outlets, sports and other activities. They’re filled with questions about school and college, but lack structure and schedules.

“As we stare at screens and find ourselves with lack of connection, parenting during lockdown has become more complicated,” the therapists say. “In addition, as couples, emotions intensify.”

They’ve compiled common concerns and challenges that families face during COVID. In a pair of free webinars, they’ll outline strategies and tools they use to help manage in times of stress. During each live session, they’ll take viewers’ questions.

The topics are “Teen Stress: COVID and Beyond” (Thursday, May 28, 6 to 6:30 p.m.; click here to register) and “Couples Coping: COVID and Beyond” (Thursday, June 4, 6 to 6:30 p.m.; click here to register).


And finally … as Westport (and the rest of Connecticut) start opening up …