Category Archives: Saugatuck

Cribari Bridge Lights: You Can Help!

Whatever goes around, comes around.

For over 20 years from Thanksgiving through January, traffic going around — or over — the William F. Cribari Bridge has slowed. Everyone is awed by the span’s lights, from Riverside Avenue to Bridge Street.

The colorful display is beautiful, wherever you stand. Driving through it is especially fun.

The William F. Cribari Bridge, in all its holiday glory. (Photo/JD Dworkow)

The lights are a gift from Al’s Angels. The non-profit — started in part by Al DiGuido, and aided by countless volunteers — provides holiday meals, gifts  and toys to thousands of children and families battling cancer, rare blood disease and severe financial hardship.

Al’s Angels gives so much to Fairfield County. And so many give to Al’s Angels.

Last year, Saugatuck Rowing Club gave back to both. The boathouse/fitness center/restaurant just a few yards from the bridge sponsored a bridge lighting festival. Hundreds of people came, and contributed funds that help Al’s Angels continue its amazing work.

Merry Christmas, thanks to Al’s Angels.

The Rowing Club wanted to do the same thing this year. COVID makes the need more urgent than ever — both in terms of the number of people who need help, and covering the shortfall from people having a tough time donating this year.

But the recent spike in cases makes a big gathering untenable.

Meanwhile, for 5 hours this weekend — working through 3 a.m. — volunteers replaced all the old lights with new ones. They were (of course) a donation from Al’s Angels, with help from A.J. Penna & Sons Construction.

A low-key lighting celebration is set for this Friday (November 27, 6 p.m.). There won’t be a big crowd, unfortunately.

So Diana Kuen and the Rowing Club are asking their friends — and all “06880” readers – to help. They hope everyone who can will donate $20 (or more!).

Of course, you don’t have to wait until Friday. Click here to give funds. Click here to provide a gift to a child, through Al’s Angels’ Touchless Toy Drive.

This year more than ever, we need those Cribari Bridge lights.

And this year more than ever, Al’s Angels needs us.

Whatever goes around, comes around.

The Cribari Bridge at Christmastime. (Photo/Joel Treisman)

 

 

 

 

Saugatuck May Face New Traffic Woes

Saugatuck residents worried about over-development have spent years battling a proposed 187-unit complex on Hiawatha Lane.

Now they’ve got a new fear. And it’s out of Westport’s hands.

There’s a plan to built a warehouse and distribution center at 10 Norden Place.

That’s in East Norwalk. It’s accessible off Route 136 (Saugatuck Avenue/Winfield Street). And it is very close to Hiawatha Lane.

The proposed Norden Place warehouse and distribution center is shown in yellow. Tractor-trailer routes are marked in green and purple. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

What does “warehouse and distribution center” mean?

According to Save Old Saugatuck, the Norden property — which once housed an electronics company, then became an office park and has now added apartments — would be the site of a 330,000-square foot facility. It would draw 198 tractor-trailers — 62 to 67 feet long — and 376 cars each day.

SOS foresees “possible 24 hour operations.”

The distribution facility would include 19 loading docks, for 3 to 5 tenants occupying 60,000 to 100,000 square feet each.

The tenant mix would be unknown until the applicant receives zoning approval, purchases the building and begins leasing space.

Artists’ rendering of a distribution center.

Save Old Saugatuck warns, “This Norden Place warehouse will affect Westport’s Exit 17 and surrounding traffic.”

Tractor-trailers can’t fit under the railroad bridge (though god knows plenty of drivers try). So some would take the I-95 exit, head north on Riverside Avenue, then take a sharp turn onto Post Road West and continue on to Strawberry Hill Avenue.

“Our Norwalk neighbors came out to support us when we had to fight (the Hiawatha proposal) before the Norwalk Zoning Commission,” SOS says.

“It is critical for those of us who live in the SOS neighborhood to now give our support to our Norwalk neighbors. Support is in the form of petitions, emails, or open-to-public virtual meeting attendance.”

Emails can be sent to skleppin@norwalkct.org.

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Sunrise over Pasacreta Park (Photo/Tom Cook)

Wheels2U: New Train Station Service Rolls Out In Westport

Since COVID struck, commuter traffic is down dramatically. Train station parking lots are nearly empty.

But some folks still need Metro-North. Not all of them can — or want to — drive to Saugatuck or Greens Farms. Westport Transit has been an alternative.

But the shuttle service has not worked for everyone. The schedule did not cover all peak trains. Not everyone lives close to the routes. Supply and demand were not always in sync.

On Monday, Westport Transit introduced “Wheels 2U Westport.” The new on-demand, door-to-train platform shuttle service will operate in nearly all of Westport, and provide rides to both the Saugatuck and Greens Farms stations. Riders can be picked up at home or their place of business.

Nearly all of Westport is included in the service area.

The new service will operate weekdays, from 5:45 to 9:45 a.m., and 4 to 8 p.m.

Commuters can schedule rides shortly before their desired pick-up time through an app (click here, or search for “Wheels2U” on the Apple or Google Play store). The $2 fare can be paid via the app or a Metro-North Uniticket (rail and bus pass).

Wheels2U Westport uses Norwalk Transit’s comfortable blue vehicles and white shuttle buses. It replaces Westport Transit’s 7 commuter shuttle routes, and the temporary on-demand commuter service begun in March during COVID.

Norwalk Transit introduced Wheels2U in that city in 2018.

For more information, click here or call 203-852-0000 (choose option 3).

 

Roundup: Sweet Photos, Trash, Pumpkins, More


Westporters love Tom Kretsch’s photos. They love Saugatuck Sweets. And they love Al’s Angels.

So plan to stop by the ice cream shop patio on the river tomorrow (Saturday, October 10, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Kretsch will display his evocative images — many of his home town.

A percentage of all sales benefits Al’s Angels, the nonprofit started by Saugatuck Sweets owner Al DiGuido to help families with children battling cancer, and families with food needs.

(Photo/Tom Kretsch)


Last weekend, 35 mothers and daughters from Westport’s National Charity League spent a cleaning Compo Beach. The effort supported NCL’s philanthropy partner, Save the Sound.

Volunteers removed over 45 pounds of garbage from the beach. They found PPE, plastic bags, straws and food wrappers, along with 235 cigarette butts, 160 bottle caps and 33 balloons. Data collected will help Save the Sound stop debris at its source. 

A small bit of all the trash.


What’s new at the Senior Center?

Its first-ever pumpkin decorating contest. It’s October 30 (11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.).

Submissions will be judged on originality and scariness. Members can vote for their favorite pumpkins while picking up a drive-through lunch (chicken pot pie, salad, roll, cookie and Halloween treats) from staff members (in costumes).

Seniors can enjoy their meal while socially distancing in the parking lot. Prizes include a Halloween goodie bucket, and a gift card for a Senior Center luncheon.

Lunch is $8. The cost to enter the contest: free (and priceless).


ADL Connecticut’s 10th annual Walk Against Hate will look from the first 9. Though participants can’t join together physically, they’ll still send a powerful message.

Individuals, families, friends, colleagues and teammates are invited to get creative. They can walk wherever they want, from October 12-18. Registration is free, though fundraising is encouraged to help ADL fight anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of hate.

Fundraisers who give or get more than $50 get an ADL bandanna. The first 1,000 people to raise over $150 receive t-shirts.

ADL Connecticut has a strong Westport presence. Director Steve Ginsburg lives here; so does Walk Against Hate chair Claudia Cohen.

Jill Nadel chairs the outreach committee). Terry Bernard, Shelly Herst, Margie Jacobson, Ken Backman, Sara Weiner (co-chair of the education committee), Bret Weiner, Chuck Harris, Liz Kaner, Lynne Goldstein and John Kaufman are all on ADL’s state board. Many other Westporters serve in other capacities.

To register for or donate to the Walk Against Hate, click here.


Instead of a traditional luncheon, the American Cancer Society’s annual “Women Leading the Way to Wellness” event (Wednesday, November 18), is on Facebook Live.

There’s an option to buy a $125 “Wellness Box” to enhance the viewing experience. The boxes are valued at over $175, and include products from The Granola Bar, Performance Physical Therapy and West.

Click here for more information.


And finally … this is the birthday of John Lennon. He would have been — are you ready? — 80 years old today.

 

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Rowing across the river, seen from Longshore (Photo/John Kantor)

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William F. Cribari Bridge (Photo/Jennifer Rosen)

Unsung Heroes #160

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink is its symbol — and the color of roses. What better way, Diana Kuen thought, to commemorate all of the warriors, past and present, who have been impacted by breast cancer than to turn the Saugatuck River pink?

And at the same time, raise money for charity.

That was not an idle notion. Diana is the director and head coach of the Survive-OARS — Saugatuck Rowing Club’s breast cancer survivor rowing program.

So last year, right before sunset, anyone who purchased rose petals was invited to scatter them. High tide carried them — biodegradable and freeze-dried — out to the Sound.

Proceeds benefited the Saugatuck Survive-OARS program, in partnership with the Smilow Family Breast Health Center at Norwalk Hospital.

Diana wanted an encore this year. The COVID pandemic made planning a tad tougher.

But — as breast cancer survivors know — perseverance pays off.

So this Saturday (October 3, 1 to 4 p.m.), the 2nd annual River of Roses will rock the town.

There’s live music. Chef Paul’s famous clam chowder, lobster bisque and butternut squash soup, charcuterie, hummus and apple strudel.

And more. Read on.

Around 2:30 p.m. — as rowers read names of breast cancer warriors past and present — they’ll scatter rose petals again.

Strewing rose petals, last year.

The event will be livestreamed on the Saugatuck Rowing Club website.

There are plenty of opportunities to help. Tickets are $75 each (with assigned seating). Rose petals are $25.

Saugatuck Survive-OARS has teamed up with a fierce group of young female entrepreneurs — the #SewSisters in Norwalk — to create and sell pink face masks.

Click here for tickets, rose petals and/or masks.

Pink face masks

All of that would make Diana Kuen and the Survive-OARS our Unsung Heroes of the Week.

But there are more.

In addition to the food and drink mentioned above, Donut Crazy — which did the same thing last year — said they’d donate a couple of hundred pink frosted donuts.

This has been a very tough year for the shop at the eastbound side of the train station.

They closed for a few months during the heart of the pandemic. Now rail traffic — their bread and butter — is non-existent. Donut Crazy is absolutely an Unsung Hero.

So is Copps Island. They’re contributing 300 oysters, with joy.

When Diane realized she needed a shucker, she asked Rachel Precious — the deliciously named owner of Precious Oysters — if she was available for hire.

Rachel replied quickly — volunteering her services. She’s a Staples High School graduate, a rower — and her cousin was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Rachel is an Unsung Hero too.

And how about a shout-out to Moët Hennessy USA. They’re sponsoring the River of Roses, and providing complimentary Chandon Rosé (of course).

Our list of Unsung Heroes would not be complete without including all the women everywhere, who fight their own battles with breast cancer, while reaching out to help others.

This month is for you. And Saturday is your special day.

Diana Kuen

Roundup: Fitness, Virtual Slice, Trash, More


When is downtown Westport not an outdoor shopping mall?

When it turns into a Fitness & Wellness Expo.

That was the scene yesterday. Pure Barre, JoyRide, Row House and Athleta sponsored outdoor classes on Main Street. Vendors like Restore Cryo, Fleet Feet and New England Hemp Farm helped educate consumers. Church Lane merchants added wellness specials.

Everyone wore masks. And if they didn’t have one, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — sponsors of the intriguing event — gave them one.

Work it!

Among the participants: 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas, in the photo below:


Yesterday would have been the 9th annual Slice of Saugatuck. It got squashed by the coronavirus — but the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce did the next best thing.

They produced a video, showing the shops, restaurants and people who make up that vibrant community. Whether you’re a newcomer, old-timer or long-gone Westporter, check below for a 6-minute stroll through Saugatuck.

One more Chamber note: They’ve added a 2nd “Supper & Soul” socially distanced tailgate show featuring Terrapin: A Grateful Dead Experience (Friday, October 2; 7 p.m.). Tickets go on sale Monday at 10 a.m.; click here.


Westporter Helen Lowman is president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. Next Sunday — September 20 — her organization hosts its 2nd annual TrashDash. The goal is for people to create cleaner streets, parks, and waterfronts by “plogging” (picking up litter while jogging).

It will be held officially at Mill River Park in Stamford (the city where Keep America Beautiful is headquartered) — but anyone can join in their own community, wherever it is. Just grab a bag and gloves and pick up litte. You don’t even have to jog!

Click here for more information.


The Westport River Dancers performed at the Rowing Club yesterday. It was a cancer fundraiser for Norwalk Hospital’s Row for Recovery.

Check out these dancing queens (and one king): Debra Montner, Hilary Solder, Eva Grant-Rawiszer, Suzanne Harvey, Jill Alcott Ferreday and Michael Chait. All are Westporters — and they met their $10,000 goal!


And finally … Toots Hibbert, who introduced reggae to the world — died Friday in Jamaica. He was believed to be 77, and was reported to have suffered from COVID-like symptoms. He and his group — Toots and the Maytals — had international hits like this:

Friday Flashback #209

“Loving” is a 1970 movie starring George Segal, Eva Marie Saint and Keenan Wynn.

If you’ve never heard of it — and I sure haven’t — here’s a review from IMDB:

George Segal (not as scruffy as he typically had been at the start of the decade) plays a troubled husband and father suffering through career uncertainty who cheats on his wife (Eva Marie Saint, cast yet again as a doormat-spouse). Segal is an affable screen presence, but we never learn much about what makes him tick, what causes him to hurt the ones he loves.

Talented director Irvin Kershner hit a few snags in his career; here, the semi-improvisational ground he’s treading desperately needs a center, or a leading character we can attach some emotions to. The dramatic finale is well-realized, and Segal’s comeuppance is provocative and thoughtful–at least something is HAPPENING; overall, it’s a cynical slice of the marriage blahs, one that probably played a lot fresher in 1970 than it does today.

Somehow, Andy Laskin found it on TCM. (Turner’s definition of “classic movies” is quite broad.)

Suddenly, he spotted a familiar locale:

“Loving” was not nearly as successful as other movies filmed in Westport, like “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” or “The Stepford Wives.”

Nor is it as well remembered as (my favorite) “Manny’s Orphans.”

But it reminds us of a time when nearly every Westporter commuted to New York.

And of a train station that — except for that long-gone wooden building — still looks almost the same as it did, 50 years ago.