Category Archives: Saugatuck

Roundup: COVID Vaccine, Cribari Lights, Staples Soccer …

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900 kids showed up yesterday at the Staples High School fieldhouse.

Most came willingly, even eagerly. A few had to be dragged in.

All were 5 to 11 years old — and now all are vaccinated against COVID. They enjoyed (appreciated? tolerated?) a clinic sponsored by Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

Westport’s Emergency Medical Services personnel, and Community Emergency Response Team, were on hand to help. So were Westport Public School nurses, assistant superintendent of schools John Bayers, and State Senator Will Haskell.

The youngsters were given balloons. Most smiled. Their parents smiled too — with relief.

State Senator Will Haskell and Long Lots Elementary School nurse Max Zimmer, at yesterday’s clinic. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Colorful lights on the Cribari Bridge are as much a part of Westport life as — well, traffic on the Cribari Bridge.

The annual lighting ceremony is set for Friday, November 26 — the day after Thanksgiving — at the Saugatuck Rowing Club (click here for details).

But before that happens, each of the thousands of lights must be individually checked, and repaired.

Volunteers from Al’s Angels and AJ Penna Construction performed that task in the cold pre-dawn yesterday. It took several painstaking hours.

But their great work will provide many days of joy, for very thankful Westporters.

Testing the lights this weekend. The next time the lights will be on is November 26. (Photo/Magnus Larsson)

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What an exciting time to be a Staples High School soccer fan! The boys and girls teams won 3 state tournament games each last week. Both have roared into the semifinals.

Yesterday, the 6th-seeded Wrecker boys team knocked off #3 Fairfield Prep, 1-0.  Reese Watkins power-headed Matthew Jordan’s corner kick in the second half. Outstanding defense by Bruno Guiduli, Jackson Hochhauser, Caleb Tobias, Hunter Smith, Jack Foster and keeper Jacob Greenberger secured the win. The boys face Farmington in the semis,

The girls also won off a corner kick, against Farmington on Thursday. Neva Mermagen nailed Maddie Sansone’s cross for the dramatic overtime game winner. The Wreckers meet Fairfield Warde in their semifinal match.

Both games will be played at neutral sites, later this week. Days, times and sites have not yet been announced.

Reese Watkins (left) celebrates his goal against Fairfield Prep with (from left) Dylan Hoke, Murilo Moreno, Tim Liakh and Hunter Smith. (Photo/Mark Sikorski)

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Hungry for another Westport Library’s Trefz Newsmakers Series conversation?

The series — featuring Emmy-winning CBS News justice and security correspondent (and 1988 Staples High School graduate) Jeff Pegues — continues next month, with acclaimed chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson. It’s set for the Trefz Forum on December 2 (7 p.m.).

Samuelsson is the chef behind restaurants worldwide, including Red Rooster Harlem, Red Rooster Shoreditch and Marcus B&P. He was the youngest person to ever receive a 3-star review from The New York Times, and has won multiple James Beard Foundation Awards.

A noted philanthropist, Samuelsson co-produces the annual week-long festival Harlem EatUp!. He also co-chairs the Careers through Culinary Arts program.

The Trefz Newsmakers Series is free. To register for a seat, click here.

Marcus Samuelsson

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“The Band’s Visit” continues its national tour at the Bushnell in Hartford this week.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Staples High School 2013 graduate Clay Singer. The former Players star plays Itzik — unemployed, raising an infant with a frustrated wife — with “aching honesty.”

The Tony Award-winning show runs November 16-21. Click here for more information, and tickets.

Clay Singer in “The Band’s Visit.”

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Westporter Jacquelin Mullin died peacefully after a brief illness last week, with her sons at her side.

She spent her childhood in Bronxville, New York. After graduating from Pace Business School Jacquie married her high school beau, Gerard Mullin, in 1946, They lived in Florida and Illinois and New Canaan. Their growing family moved to Westport in 1954.

Jacquie raised their 3 sons while Gerry worked in NYC.  She volunteered in Westport schools. Her active boys kept her busy transporting them to sports events, dealing with a menagerie of wild “pets,” and worrying about motorcycle mishaps.

Divorced in 1973, Jacquie remained in her Westport home and entered the workplace as an administrative assistant, working her way through a number of marketing positions until she retired from GTE.

She also volunteered with the Westport Historical Society, Westport Woman’s Club and Nature Center (now Earthplace), among others.

She was a devoted gardener. In later years she surrounded herself with flowering plants on her deck, where she spent many hours.

She traveled extensively with friends and family members. Proud of her Irish heritage, visiting “the auld sod” was an important journey. She was inseparable from her beloved cars, driving solo south each winter to visit friends and family.

She also enjoyed Compo Beach, watching the ever-changing seasons of children, dogs and beach walkers.

With her sons grown, her best times centered on sharing a meal or driving adventures with old friends from work, and new friends from all walks of life. Her family thanks everyone who enriched her life with their companionship and wit, and to the aides that made her later-life lunches possible.

Family was the center of Jacquie’s existence. She hosted holiday dinners until the younger generation took over, and kept track of everyone’s birthdays.  She was pre-deceased by her former husband (1997), her middle son Randall James Mullin (2017), and daughter-in-law Audrey (Albright) Mullin (2005).

She is survived by her brother, John Sheedy Jr. of New York City and Red Rock, New York; sisters Marie Ponce of Charlotte and Marguerite Adams of  Garrison, New York; sons Jeffrey (Joan Hall) of Bourne, Massachusetts and Scott of Ridgefield; daughter-in-law Jackie Mullin of Neptune Beach, Florida; grandchildren Amy and Brian Mullin; great-grandchild Ethan Mullin, plus nieces, nephews, and their children:

A private graveside service will be held at Assumption Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held in the spring.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society; Wakeman Town Farm, or Earthplace. Her family adds: “Plant perennial flowers in your garden in her memory!”

Jacqui Mullin

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Deer are a popular “Westport … Naturally” subject.

But we haven’t seen too many bucks. Here’s a great shot, from Baron’s South:

(Photo/Tammy Barry)

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And finally … happy 121st birthday to America’s great composer/conductor, Aaron Copland!

Friday Flashback #270

If you’ve ever …

  • Spent 20 minutes crawling from I-95 exit 17 to the Cribari Bridge, on traffic-filled Charles Street and Riverside Avenue
  • Spent 20 minutes trying to decide where to have dinner in Saugatuck: Rizzuto’s? Tutti’s? Harvest? Tarantino’s? Romanacci’s? Viva? Bistro du Soleil? The Whelk? Or a dozen or so others?
  • Rented a kayak, bought some ice cream or fresh bread, or visited another local merchant near the river
  • Taken a train to or from New York, or picked up or dropped off someone at the station
  • Looked at the concrete 4-story office building across from Luciano Park and thought, how the hell did this ever get built here?

… then you’ll be amazed by this week’s Friday Flashback.

It shows a Saugatuck we can’t even imagine.

Long before I-95 slashed through; before the Italians made the community their own; before, even, the factories and wharves along the river hummed with activities, this was what Saugatuck looked like.

Maybe.

Postcards have been known to stretch the truth.

But this Saugatuck scene looks nice — wherever it was.

Meanwhile, if you think you can identify the spot where these cows grazed, click “Comments” below.

Or just add your own Saugatuck memory.

Allium Eatery Offers Unique Options

Come for the morning coffee.

Return for a midday espresso, and sandwiches.

Go back for light bites at 4 p.m. Stay for drinks, and a sit-down dinner.

Or just pick up prepared foods, to bring home.

Allium Eatery’s menu is small. But there’s something for everyone at Westport’s newest restaurant,*

Allium has moved into the Railroad Place site previously occupied Romanacci (which relocated next door), and before that Cocoa Michelle.

Allium Eatery’s doors are open.

Owner/chef Michelle Greenfield eased in with a soft opening. Reviews have been raves, with plenty of repeat customers. Allium — Latin for bulbous herbs of the lily family. including onion, garlic, chive, leek and shallot — is now open Tuesday and Wednesday from breakfast through afternoon, adding dinner service Thursday through Saturday. It’s closed Sunday and Monday.

Greenfield — a Newtown native — worked in her first restaurant at 16. With a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, she headed to an Italian restaurant on Providence’s famed Federal Hill.

She returned to Connecticut to focus on French cooking, then catered in the Hudson Valley. After a stint at Jesup Hall with Bill Taibe, she led the team at the Schoolhouse at Cannondale. She had free rein there to hone her style: “modern American with French undertones, using playful, bold flavors.”

COVID closed that highly regarded restaurant. It also freed Greenfield to imagine her own place.

“I love fine dining, and boutique menus that change frequently,” she says.

“But how can you sustain a restaurant based on that, when the industry is changing so quickly?”

Fromage and more: part of Allium’s buvette (snacks and sip) service.

Her solution: a flexible eatery with sittings on weekends, but otherwise casual, with small plates and takeout items.

The train station location lends itself to grab-and-go meals. But with plenty of restaurants nearby, it’s considered a sit-down destination too.

Greenfield signed her lease last May. Since then she’s dealt with changing COVID mandates and construction delays, some caused by the broken supply chain.

Now she’s at the end of week 3. Breakfast sandwiches have been a surprise hit, with morning commuters coming in more frequently than she anticipated. They’re there to grab all-natural, free-range rotisserie chickens in the evening too.

Rotisserie chickens from Sport Hill Farm come with fingerling potatoes and orange cauliflower.

Diners love dinner items like Parisian gnocchi with smoked mushrooms, lardon, beet silk, Marconi almond pesto and lemon ricotta. Other dinner choices include braised short ribs, Sport Hill Farm squash and Pei mussels.

The menu will change frequently, with the weather and availability of fresh ingredients.

Buvette service — “snacks and sips,” starting at 4 p.m. — includes spiced nuts, crudite, duck riellette, fromage and saucisson.

Greenfield will also offer pre-orered Thanksgiving sides to go, holiday take- home meals, and events like wine tastings.

The restaurant industry is changing. So are Westport’s commuter habits. But it looks like Allium Eatery has already found a home by the train station.

Bon appétit!

*Along with Salsa Fresca, the fast-casual Mexican place, which opened on Monday at the former Qdoba, on Post Road East by the entrance to Playhouse Square.

Allium Eatery has completely designed the former Romanacci space.

Hiawatha Coming Down?

Agendas for the Historic District Commission are straightforward affairs.

The one for its next meeting — Tuesday, November 9, 7:30 p.m., Zoom (click here for the link) starts out like most others.

After approving minutes, the group will “take such action as the meeting may determine to oppose the issuance of the demolition permit” for 171 Compo Road South, 3 Sunrise Road and 5 Minute Man Hill, and “require the full 180-day delay.” The agenda item is mandatory, for houses more than 50 years old.

The next 8 similar items, though, may be contentious. Th language is the same. But the properties are 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 and 47 Hiawatha Lane.

One of the Hiawatha Lane homes on the demolition list.

Those homes would be torn down to make way for Summit Saugatuck’s 157-unit development, off Saugatuck Avenue by I-95 Exit 17.

Area residents have filed a lawsuit in Bridgeport Superior Court to stop construction.

Watch this page. And watch the Zoom.

Roundup: Slice & Dog Fest, Khaliq Sanda, Gabi Conti …

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A few folks grumble about paying admission to the Slice of Saugatuck or Westport Dog Festival.

Quit bitching. Held this fall after a COVID hiatus, they helped fund donations of more than $10,000 to non-profit organizations. The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce sponsors both events, and announced the grants.

The traditional recipient of the Slice of Saugatuck is Homes with Hope’s Gillespie Food Pantry. This year’s donation of $4,500 brings the grand total since the Slice began to over $30,000. The giant neighborhood food tasting tagline is: “Food for those who can afford it, and food for those who can’t.”

Donations to local non-profits from the Dog Festival total $6,000 this year: $4,000 to co-producer TAILS; $1,000 to the Westport Police Department (split between the K9 unit and Animal Control via Westport Animal Shelter Advocates); $500 to Fidelco Guide Dogs; $250 to the Connecticut Humane Society, and $250 to Adopt-a-Dog.

The Dog Festival returns this spring to its usual date. Slice of Saugatuck will be held right after Labor Day.

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For years, Richelle Evarts has been a familiar, friendly face at Organic Market.

She’s been diagnosed with colon and liver cancer. Her husband William is reaching out for help.

He writes: “After exploring many options, she decided to take an integrated holistic medical path to recovery.

“Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover such a path. We found a facility in Mesa, Arizona, with an extensive 6 week-stay.

“I’m reaching out to all who know Richelle and what a beautiful, wonderful and giving person she is, I’m asking you to help us reach our goal for her to live many more healthy and active years. Any donation is greatly appreciated.”

Click here for Richelle’s GoFundMe page. (Hat tip: Sarah Gross)

Richelle Evarts

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Often, the state Department of Transportation works slowly.

This time, they got the job done quickly. And right.

Earlier this month, the Hillspoint Road bridge over I-95 was named for Khaliq Sanda. He’s the smart, energetic, dynamic and popular 2013 Staples High School graduate (and A Better Chance of Westport scholar) who was diagnosed with brain cancer while majoring in pre-med at Duke University. His death in March devastated Westport.

Today, signs went up on the span. They’ll serve as a constant reminder of all that we lost.

(Photo/Ben Joseloff)

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Speaking of bridges: Sunday was UN Day. As always, flags of member nations flew proudly on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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A few days ago, our “06880” Roundup previewed Todd Suchotliff’s upcoming New York Marathon — which he would run entirely in Westport. A recent arrival in town, he invited his friends (and strangers) to run a bit with him, or cheer along the route.

It happened Sunday. Todd reports:

“It was a great day, made all the better with help from the amazing community here in my new hometown, from start to finish.

“My neighbors came out to cheer me on. Three people from the Joggers Club ran with me — one for the first 20 miles (!), the others to run the last 6.2 home. Plus my family chased me all around Westport, holding up signs and cheering for me.

Thank you fall. And we raised close to $8,500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, in my mom’s memory.”

Todd Suchotliff and friend.

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In June 2020, I started an “06880” story on Gabi Conti this way:

“The guy who got away. The guy who’s hotter than you. The guy you always go back to. The guy who’s much older. The guy who’s toxic. The guy you can’t remember.

“Gabi Conti knows them all. She’s dated them all.”

The hook was that Gabi — a 2005 Staples High School graduate — had just written a book. Called “20 Guys You Date in Your 20s,” it was a compilation of her greatest hits — and misses.

Gabi is now 34. As of earlier this month, she’s also married.

This past weekend, the New York Times featured her Greens Farms Church wedding. Click here for the whole story.

Spoiler alert: The 31st date was a charm.

Gabi Conti and Daren Johnson (Photo courtesy of Robert Norman Photography)

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The Town Clerk’s office (Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue) will be open this Saturday (October 30, 9 a.m. to noon) to issue absentee ballots for the November 2 election.

Absentee ballots will continue to be available on Monday, November 1, until 4:30 p.m. All ballots must be returned to the Town Clerk’s office no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Questions? Click here; email tclerk@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-1110.

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With all our recent focus on animals, “Westport … Naturally” has neglected a no-brainer: fall foliage.

This wonderful shot is from Gray’s Creek.

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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And finally … Jay Black, the 2nd “Jay” of Jay and the Americans, died Friday in Queens, of cardiac arrest. He was 82, and suffered from pneumonia and dementia. (Click here for the full obituary.)

The first Jay (Traynor) had a great voice, on songs like “She Cried.” But Jay Black’s baritone made his predecessor sound like a wannabe. Consider these classics:

Pic Of The Day #1650

Today marks the middle of Restaurant Week. Rowene Weems had “a lovely dinner outside on a beautiful night at Harvest. The atmosphere was magical, with lights and a full moon. There is also something cool about being next to the train station.”

For more on the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce event, click here.

(Photo/Rowene Weems)

Friday Flashback #267

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of stuff from old-time Westport.

But I’ve never seen this:

(Courtesy of James Gray)

But not only have I never seen this — I’ve never heard of any of it.

Not Pecos Porkers.

Not Saugatuck’s Pecos Livestock Company.

I haven’t even heard of a Westport’s phone number that’s just “138.”

If anyone knows anything about our town’s apparently once-flourishing pork industry, click “Comments” below.

And if you have any clue why an advertisement for porkers would include a well-dressed lady and 2 horses, add that in too.

Hiawatha Lane Neighbors File Lawsuit

A Representative Town Meeting vote in June seemed to be the final word. After a decades-long controversy, 157 housing units could be built on Hiawatha Lane.

But the bulldozers may have to wait.

A group of neighbors on the road, off Saugatuck Avenue near I-95 Exit 17, has filed suit in Bridgeport Superior Court.

The plaintiffs ask the court for a “temporary and permanent injunction enjoining the Defendant from constructing greater than a one-family house on any of the lots owned by the Defendant in the Subdivision in violation of the One-Family House Restriction.”

The neighbors claim that a covenant on the property restricts all development on land owned by the defendant — Summit Saugatuck — to one-family houses only.

The plaintiffs also cite health and safety concerns related to increased traffic, along with runoff and flood issues.

The redevelopment plan for Hiawatha Lane. Click to enlarge.

Roundup: Pushups, Steffi Friedman, Roses …

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There was a lot going on this beautiful weekend.

A beautiful sight was Staples High School’s Jinny Parker Field, where hundreds of Westporters of all ages banged out pushups for a great cause.

The 12th annual Push Against Cancer is a fundraiser for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp — the wonderful respite for kids battling life-threatening diseases. It was developed by Westport’s beloved Paul Newman.

Participants solicited pledges, in return for pushups. The top 2 teams were Staples girls soccer ($24,178) and Staples boys soccer ($23.311).

It costs $2,500 to send one youngster to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for a week. Those 2 soccer programs alone will send 18 children there.

Add in the $140,000-plus raised by everyone else, and that’s nearly 80 boys and girls. Well done, Westport!

The Staples High School girls soccer team at the Push Against Cancer … (Photo/Charlotte Strandell)

… and the boys.

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On Saturday, friends and family of Steffi Friedman honored the Westport artist who died 2 years ago at 94, and dedicated a new work.

Her bronze “Pas de Deux” (2002) is now part of the Westport Public Art Collections. Installed for years on her Yankee Hill Road lawn, it now sits proudly in the Staples High School courtyard. The work was donated by her family, in gratitude of Westport’s cultural legacy, and Staples’ commitment to the arts.

The event was organized by Steffi’s daughter Margie — a 1972 Staples graduate — and town arts curator Kathie Bennewitz.

Performances include poetry from town poet laureate Diane Meyer Lowman, and dance by Staples alum Grace Bergonzi.

Friends and family admire Steffi Friedman’s sculpture. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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The River of Roses is one of Westport’s best fundraisers.

It’s probably the most colorful too.

The Survive-OAR program provides mental, physical and emotional healing after traditional treatment ends. It’s an empowering, supportive community for women to heal.

During next Sunday’s celebration (October 10, 4 p.m.) — honoring the Saugatuck Rowing Club’s Survive-OARS crew, plus anyone who has battling breast cancer (or is now) — names are read aloud, as rose petals are scattered into the Saugatuck River at high tide. They’re then swept out to sea.

Survive-OAR’s Kimberly Wilson will sing. There’s live music by Fake ID, plus Copp’s Island Oysters, a raw bar from Pagano’s Seafood, drinks, Chef Jason’s clam chowder and lobster bisque, and Donut Crazy treats.

Click here for tickets, donations, positivity bracelets and more. Questions? Email president and head coach Diana Kuen: diana@survive-OARS.org.

PS: Throughout October, new members can buy a one-month membership to the Saugatuck Rowing Club. 100% of the dues goes toward Survive-OARS.

Strewing rose petals, in 2019.

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Yesterday’s Roundup gave an incorrect date for Westport Pride’s Zoom presentation: “When did you know?” (As in: When did you know you were LGBT?).

It’s tomorrow (Tuesday, October 5, 7 p.m.). Panelists include

  • John Dodig, former Staples High School principal
  • Zac Mathias, Weston High School senior and media influencer
  • Samantha Webster, Staples High graduate and former Staples Player
  • Luke Foreman, Staples grad and varsity tennis captain
  • Jen DeLoyd and Bethany Eppner, Westport parents
  • Kayla Iannetta, Staples teacher and founder of the Westport Public Schools’ Pride Coalition
  • Brian McGunagle, Westport parent and founder of Westport Pride.

Click here for the Zoom link.

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Westporter Lisa Seidenberg had a letter published in yesterday’s New York Times Book Review.

It was a response to a review by Simon Winchester that mentioned the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair, and how General Motors drove many Americans into debt with the purchase of automobiles. That was a huge expense, in the post-Depression years.

Seidenberg knows the subject well. Her 2010 documentary on the Fair — “I Have Seen the Future” — premiered in Westport, before screenings at film festivals nationwide. It included commentary by the late Westport futurist Watts Wacker.

General Motors’ Futurama, at the 1939 World’s Fair.

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MoCA Westport has announced its fall music series. It includes:

  • Marielle Kraft (pop): Friday, October 8
  • The Figgs (rock): Friday, October 15
  • Priscilla Navarro (classical): Saturday, November 20
  • The Mark O’Connor Duo (violin/fiddle/bluegrass): Thursday, December 9.

Shows begin at 7 p.m. Click here for details and tickets.

The Figgs

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Congratulations to the Longshore Ladies 9 Holers. Their annual charity golf event at Longshore raised an enormous amount of food donations for the Westport Woman’s Club food closet, plus $1,175 in cash.

Longshore ladies who golf — and raise money for good causes. From left: M.J. Fusaro, Eileen Hart, Mandy Germishuys, Julie Gray.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is sweet!

Here’s a honeybee enjoying a dahlia:

(Photo/Nancy Diamond)

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And finally … I had never heard of the Figgs — the band that’s headlining at MoCA Westport next week.

Then again, there are lots of bands I’ve never heard of.

Now here they are:

Photo Challenge #353

There are few things more iconic in Westport than the Black Duck.

So when last week’s Photo Challenge showed hand-painted directional signs to 2 islands (Cockenoe and Long), and equally watery Key West, many “06880” knew where they can be found: the right side of our favorite dive bar. (Hey, that’s not me: Back in 2009, the Duck was a star attraction on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives“).

Elaine Marino, Derek Fuchs, Michael Calise, Robert Mitchell, Werner Liepolt, Tony Sousa, Andrew Colabella, Bobbie Herman, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Juliana Sloane Fulbright and Seth Braunstein are all (presumably) regulars, who nailed Seth Schachter’s photo as easily as they navigate the old barge’s sloping floor. (Click here for the image.)

This week’s Photo Challenge is also water-related. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)