Category Archives: Saugatuck

Pic Of The Day #2086

Holiday lights on the Cribari Bridge — a view that never gets old (Photo/Jimmy Izzo)

Photo Challenge #417

When most of us are on Railroad Place, we’re intent on something.

Getting to the train. Heading for dinner at Tarantino, Harvest, Romanacci or Allium. Shopping.

If you take the time to look up at #16, you’ll see an old, diamond-shaped window, underneath a wooden gable. (Click here to see.)

Mark Pocius, Robert Mitchell, Bob Weingarten, John Terpening, Gloria Gouveia, Diane Silfen, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Chip Stephens and Andrew Colabella all look up enough to have nailed it, as last week’s Photo Challenge.

I asked if anyone knew the back story to the unique shape.

John wondered whether the window was installed “in a way that allows it to open/pivot in the center in the hopes of inviting hot air to escape through the upper half, while inviting cooler air to enter through the bottom half, thereby creating a ‘primitive’ form of ventilation.”

Gloria Bobbie noted: “They were known as ‘witch windows’ in Colonial times, because witches couldn’t fly with their broomsticks through them. Many of them are found in Vermont.” She added a helpful Wikipedia link.

This week’s Photo Challenge should be an easy one — if you’re an alert “06880” reader. If you know where in Westport you’d see the image below, click “Comments.”

PS: Merry Christmas to all Photo Challengers!

(Photo/Eric Bosch)

 

Roundup: Ukraine Art Auction, Hamlet At Saugatuck, Fox News Lawsuit …

As donations for our new sister city in Lyman, Ukraine surge toward $120,000 — more than halfway to our goal of $250,000 to rebuild 150 homes, provide generators and a water filtration system — our partners in our other (and longtime) sister city of Marigny, France are pitching in.

In 1991, Roger Potier — a Marigny landscape artist — painted a scene of his Normandy town:

Our friends in Marigny have offered it as an auction item. The winning bidder will donate that price to the Lyman fund — and it will be shipped direct to you, from France. The dimensions are 16″ x 12″.

The bidding starts at $1,000, and runs until 11:59 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, December 24). Click “Comments” below to bid. You do not have to include your real name — but be sure to fill out the email address in the Comment box, so I’ll know who you are!

Meanwhile, to make a non-auction bid: Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

Meanwhile, we’ll add this thought from 2 noted Westporters.

David Pogue says:

When all a town wants for Christmas is plywood, generators, and drinking water, you know its citizens are in a dire situation.

Our sister city Lyman didn’t ask for this horrific invasion, attack, and devastation; this is a “there but for the grace of God go we” situation.

Let’s give them electricity, water, and tools to rebuild. Let’s show them kindness in a time of desperation. And in this Ukrainian season of devastation, destruction, and death, let’s send them a reminder that compassion and generosity are still alive.

David Pogue urges holiday donations for Lyman.

Ed Gerber adds:

I donated $500 to Ukraine Aid International, because my late father always told me that allowing Hitler to annex the Sudetenland was a horrible mistake that led to World War II.

If we do nothing against “Tsar” Vladimir’s aggression in Ukraine, where will he stop? Next it could be the Baltic States, Finland, Poland, Moldova to name a few undoubtedly on his list. If we do nothing and Putin invades “free” Ukraine, there will be a bloodbath of gargantuan proportions.

Knowing this, if I have an opportunity to help prevent it from happening, and do nothing, it will haunt me for the rest of my life. Please donate – it’s easy!

Ed Gerber

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A petition to review the Hamlet at Saugatuck text and map amendments has been filed with the town clerk.

The action — following the Planning & Zoning Commission’s recent approval of the hotel/retail/and more project on Riverside Avenue and Railroad Place — sends the decision to the Representative Town Meeting.

They have 30 calendar days from yesterday to complete a review. A supermajority of the RTM — 24 members — can vote to overturn the text amendments.

They cannot modify the decision; only vote to uphold or deny.

P&Z chair Danielle Dobin says, “This process is unique to Westport, thanks to our town charter. It is another way in which Westport is special. We are truly the most democratic of towns.

“The RTM review provides another opportunity to discuss the approved text amendment in a public forum, address questions, and tell the story of how the P&Z Commission shaped this proposal to work for Westport.”

Artist’s rendering of a Hamlet at Saugatuck courtyard.

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Sean Hannity was deposed in August, in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News.

But several statements that emerged Wednesday are making news.

Hannity said he did “not believe … for one second” that Dominion was part of fraud in the 2020 election. Neither did Fox News’ executive vice president, and other high-profile executives at the network.

Those details emerged in Delaware Superior Court. With a high legal standard of proof in defamation cases, Dominion must show a jury “convincing evidence that speaks to the state of mind of those who were making the decisions” at Fox, says the New York Times. (Click here for more details, from NPR.)

The company was arguing this week that they had enough evidence to make that case. Co-lead counsel for Dominion’s legal team is Stephen Shackelford, Jr.

A partner and trial lawyer at Susman Godfrey, the Harvard University and Harvard Law School graduate (first in his class) and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is a Westport resident. He and his wife Stefanie are the parents of 4 school-age children. In his spare time, he serves on Westport’s Representative Town Meeting. (Hat tip: Tom Prince)

Stephen Shackelford, on CNN.

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On Monday, the Orphenians — Staples High School’s elite vocal ensemble — entertained a large Westport Library crowd.

They’ve been part of our music scene for nearly 70 years. This week’s show included holiday selections, and several from their highly regarded fall concert.

The event was sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston. Click below to enjoy. (Hat tip: John Brandt)

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“Newsboy” — a 1954 photograph by Westport resident and Internationally known photographer Larry Silver — has been acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Silver took the now iconic photo as a scholarship student at The Art Center School in LA. Part of a photographic series of Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, it has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Westport Art Center.

It’s the first work by Silver to enter the Getty, and complements the work of mid-20th century documentary photographers.

“Newsboy” (Larry Silver)

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The Joggers Club invites all members — and runners who might become members, and anyone else — to their holiday party.

It’s next Thursday (December 29, 7:30 p.m., Romanacci). Members get a free drink!

The Joggers Club welcomes all levels. The number one goal is to have fun.  Everything else is a distant second.

There are fun runs at Compo Beach every Saturday at 8 p.m.; track nights at Norwalk High School on Wednesdays (6:15 p.m.), and Joggers Club Jr. (kindergarten through high school) coming this spring.

Membership ($50 per year) includes a Brooks podium racing shirt for all new members.

For more information click here; check out The Joggers Club on Facebook or Strava, or follow on Instagram (@TheJoggersClub.ct).

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Alan Mande — a 1963 Staples High School graduate, and former Grateful Dead sound engineer — died suddenly at his Mount Shasta, California home last month. He was 77.

The Brooklyn native moved with his family to Westport at age 5. His mother Frances still lives here. Alan was active in Staples Players.

He majored in theater arts at Brandeis University, then spent 2 years at the Yale School of Drama.

Alan took his Players and Westport Country Playhouse stage skills to join Bill Graham’s Fillmore East sound crew as an engineer. He worked on shows like Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsies’ New Year’s Eve show in 1970, and others by the Allman Brothers and Crosby Still Nash & Young.

In 1969 Alan’s life changed forever when, while working at the Fillmore East concert venue, he discovered the Grateful Dead. They inspired him to move to California in 1970, where he worked as a sound engineer and stage manager for the Firehouse Theater. In 1971 he met his future wife Nancy, in San Rafael.

Alan earned his master’s in marriage and family therapy from Lone Mountain College. He spent 31 years as a state-licensed MFT.

Alan was involved in many Mount Shasta activities. He assisted with numerous youth theater productions and coached Little League.

Alan’s passion for the Grateful Dead continued throughout his life. He was a prolific collector and archiver of tapes. He is cited in many articles, books and forums as one of the sound engineers who originated the tradition of “stealth taping” and distributing recordings to the larger community, assuring their posterity.

He loved music, theater, children, the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco sports teams, and chocolate

Alan is survived by his mother Frances, sister Susan, brother Jerry, and children Molly and Caton. Contributions in his name can be made to the Jerry Garcia Foundation.

Alan Mande. Yes, that is Jerry Garcia at the center of the steering wheel.

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Today’s spectacular “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Wendy Crowther.

She explains: “I was taking a photo of birds swarming my birdfeeders yesterday (perhaps sensing the big storm and deep freeze coming in). Suddenly, something big flashed by my lens causing the birds to scatter.

“I looked up to see this hawk sitting on a low branch 10 feet from the feeder. It waited, changing perches, in hopes an unsuspecting bird would return to the feeder. None did. The hawk eventually flew off.

“As best as I can tell, this is a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk, or a juvenile Cooper’s hawk. Both species prey on birds and other small animals. Like all juveniles, practice will make perfect. But hopefully not at my birdfeeder, and especially not while I’m watching.”

(Photo/Wendy Crowther)

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And finally … Wendy Crowther’s photo of the hawk (above) — and today’s wind — remind me of Lou Rawls’ “Dead End Street.”

Why? Well, it begins:

I was born in a city the called the “Windy City”
And they call it the “Windy City” because of the ‘Hawk.”
All mighty Hawk,
Talking about Mr. Wind — kind of mean around winter time

It’s a great song. Give it a listen — and stay warm and dry.

(Got nothing to do today, with the rain coming down, all the Christmas presents wrapped, the tree trimmed and everything else taken care of? Please consider an “06880” donation. Just click here — and thank you!)

 

Roundup: Lyman Donations, Amazon Fresh, Saugatuck Church …

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the White House and speech before Congress yesterday reminded Americans that Ukraine’s war against Russian occupation continues, even as media attention has waned.

Westporters don’t need that reminder.

Since we announced our “Building Bridges” campaign with our new sister city of Lyman on Monday, residents (and their families and friends) have raised $105,909. That’s an outstanding outpouring of generosity!

We need less than $145,000 more to reach our goal of $250,000. That will provide 150 homes ruined during the Russian occupation with new roofs, windows and more — plus a generator for every one. And a water filtration system for the entire devastated town.

We hope to reach that goal by Christmas (Sunday). Thanks to our partnership with Ukraine Aid International — a non-profit founded by Westporters Brian and Marshall Mayer — all material can be delivered 3 days later.

Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

Support for the effort comes from Rabbi Michael  Friedman of Temple Israel. He says:

“We are all inundated with requests for charitable contributions at this season of the year. Yet a personal call to help specific people in a specific city — even if it is very far away — gives our heartstrings a special tug. What a fabulous way to directly aid fellow human beings in dire need.”

Rabbi Michael Friedman, Temple Israel

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At least once a week, someone asks “06880”: What’s up with the Amazon Fresh store that was supposed to replace Barnes & Noble? Nothing has happened there for months.

We’re not the only town left in — literally — the dark.

An answer comes from The Real Deal. The New York real estate website says that since September, Amazon has not opened a new Fresh store. At least 7 locations appear to be completely built out, but unopened. Another 26 locations are like ours, with development halted.

There are “zombie stores” in several states.

The Real Deal explains:

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s cheaper for the company to keep the stores in place while not operating, rather than ditch the stores altogether. While the company is on the hook for rent, maintenance and taxes, shutting down a store could also force Amazon to pay a fee for a lease withdrawal or severance to hired employees.

Click here for the full story. In the meantime, if you want to give Amazon money for groceries, go to Whole Foods. They have not yet closed that part of their operations yet. (Hat tip: John McCarthy)

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Yesterday’s innovative “Holiday Card” — actually, a series of large images projected on the front of Saugatuck Congregational Church, thanks to the AV team of Craig Patton and Mark Mathias — was even more stunning that anyone expected.

(Photo/Richard Hyman)

The show will be repeated tonight and tomorrow (weather permitting), from 5 to 8 p.m. The best viewing spot is probably the Colonial Green parking lot, across the street.

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Jarret Liotta has many memories from his time in Los Angeles. Once, he attended a Passover Seder with Mel Brooks. The 1983 Staples High graduate quipped, “I didn’t know you were Jewish!”

Now — as Hanukkah collides with Christmas — Liotta is “proud to re-present a shot, low-quality video” he made back in those days.

He thinks Mel Brooks would have appreciated it.

Liotta’s latest film, “Small Town Movie,” is “a light comedy that explores racism, gun violence and the cancel culture.”

He calls this Christmas vs. Hanukkah piece “probably more controversial.”

You be the judge.

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The Westport Police have released arrest reports for the December 14-21 period.

Five people were detained in custody. The charges for each:

  • Conspiracy to commit larceny, interfering with a police officer, assault on public safety personnel.
  • Reckless driving, disobeying the signal of an officer, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, larceny of a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell a controlled substance.
  • Burglary, threatening, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief.
  • Possession of burglar tools, conspiracy to commit larceny, criminal attempt to commit larceny, disobeying the signal of an officer, misuse of plates, reckless driving, failure to signal properly.
  • Manufacture or possession of burglar tools, conspiracy to commit larceny, attempt to commit larceny.

The following citations were issued:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 12
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 5
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 5
  • Violation of any traffic commission regulation: 4
  • Stop sign violation: 3
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 3
  • Insurance coverage fails minimum requirements: 2
  • Disorderly conduct: 1
  • Traveling too fast for conditions:1
  • Cell phone, 1st offense: 1
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian: 1
  • Tinting windows: 1
  • Failure to keep plates readable: 1
  • Misuse of plates: 1
  • Failure to display lights: 1

One citation was issued last week for overly tinted windows.

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Speaking of the police:

The license plate on this car may signal “Never Guilty.”

But that looks an awful like a ticket on the windshield.

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At first glance, this looks like a “holiday lights” photo:

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

A closer look, though, shows it’s traffic clogging Charles Street yesterday afternoon, coming off I-95.

Eventually of course, everyone got through. It’s just late on a holiday afternoon — and, probably, a bit of Waze action too.

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The photo above provides a great segue to this item: Wheels2U is growing every day. Last month, the door-to-door ride service provided rides for over 2,300 people directly from their homes and offices, to and from the train station.

The service will take 2 brief holidays — December 26 and January 2 — before resuming full steam ahead.

For more information about Wheels2U, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.

Santa ditches his sleigh for Wheels2U.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image was spotted yesterday at Sherwood Island State Park, by John Kantor:

(Photo/John Kantor)

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And finally … on this day in 1808, Ludwig van Beethoven conducted and performed in Vienna, with the premiere of his 5th and 6th Symphonies, 4th Piano Concerto and Choral Fantasy.

It must have been quite a show.

 

 

Pic Of The Day #2074

Cribari Bridge holiday lights (Photo/Joel Treisman)

Pic Of The Day #2073

Train station morning (Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

Down By The Riverside …

Westport parks get lots of love.

Big ones like Longshore and Winslow bustle with activity. Smaller ones like Grace Salmon on Imperial Avenue are visited often too, by ardent fans.

For decades though, Riverside Park was an afterthought.

Tucked away near the busy Riverside Avenue/Saugatuck Avenue fork, it was easy to overlook. Trees and brush covered the entrance. Parking was limited. Hardly anyone knew that — past the overgrowth and weeds — lay a magnificent view of the Saugatuck River.

Riverside Park, before improvements.

Now they do.

A Parks & Recreation Department project removed invasive species and a few trees. A new design created truly open space, plus a wooded area with rocks.

It’s inviting. It’s handicap accessible.

And — even driving by — it’s easy to see the beautiful river.

For a small spot, Riverside Park has a long history. In the 1950s, it was where contractors dumped rocks as I-95 was built nearby.

In the 1970s, the town bought the land. At some point, officials thought, the Saugatuck fire station would be relocated there.

That never happened. It became a little used, barely maintained, often overlooked ugly stepchild.

No longer.

One view of the “new” Riverside Park …

Parks & Rec director Jen Fava is proud of the transformation. In addition to the removal of invasives and improved vistas, it includes new plantings, a pollinator garden and rain garden.

The I-95-era rocks have been been moved, to create a more natural look and feel. Some have been repurposed for seating.

The project also adds picnic tables; a permeable surface stable enough for people with wheelchairs and walkers; a new parking lot, and an extended sidewalk on Riverside Avenue.

The cost of the new park was $436,000. The parking lot and sidewalk were another $74,000, funded through the Department of Public Works.

… and another …

As with any municipal project, it did not happen overnight. The department worked with its Parks Advisory Committee and SLR Consulting on the design. It was approved by the Parks & Recreation Commission and Board of Finance.

“It’s important get people right down to the water,” Fava says. “And if we’re doing the work, we should make it as accessible for as many people as possible.”

Work began this summer. It’s almost complete.

Fava says that many Westporters are already enjoying the “new” Riverside Park.

And, she promises, “it will look especially great this spring.”

(Every day, “06880” brings you news from every part of Westport. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!) 

… and a third. This one looks north.

Roundup: Hamlet At Saugatuck; Blumenthal At Library; Menorah At Trader Joe’s …

It took 5 hours.

But 4 months after developers presented a text amendment allowing a retail/residential/hotel complex in Saugatuck, the Planning & Zoning Commission voted 5-1 to approve it.

The decision — which came after changes in height, setbacks and floor area coverage — is a key step in the redevelopment of the train station neighborhood. ROAN Ventures can now apply for a site plan approval of its Hamlet at Saugatuck project.

P&Z approval requires that 20% of the slips at any new marina be available for free public use, and that there be paddleboard and kayak tie-ups; design standards beyond those required for a typical special permit including maintaining the New England coastal village aesthetic reflected in the most recent renderings, and no extra height without significant public outdoor areas along the river.

The text amendment includes the rectangle between Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place, Franklin Street and Charles Street, plus land on Riverside Avenue, and the private parking lot above Luciano Park now used for boat storage.

ROAN envisions The Hamlet as an economic engine for residents and visitors, and a gateway to the rest of the town. The concept includes:

  • A boutique hotel with rooms, condo-type residences, pools, and underground parking.
  • New shops and restaurants, featuring local artisans.
  • A year-round gourmet market on the now-private railroad parking lot, with local vendors.
  • A marina.
  • A boardwalk along the river similar to Bartaco’s, with the goal of connecting  Saugatuck and Westport via waterway.
  • Re-skinning and beautification of the 21 Charles Street office building — often called “the ugliest” in Westport.

Part of the proposed Hamlet at Saugatuck marina.

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Senator Richard Blumenthal is the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston’s guest this Friday (December 16, 10 a.m., Westport Library). The event is open to the public.

The senator will discuss a range of topics. Afterward, former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe will lead a Q-and-A.

Senator Richard, last March in Westport. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Why schlep all the way to Stew Leonard’s for a menorah lighting?

We’ve got one right here in Westport!

The 2nd night of Hanukkah will be celebrated next Monday (December 19, 7 p.m.), outside Trader Joe’s

The lighting will be led by Rabbis Levi Stone (director of the Chabad Schneerson Center) and Yehoshua Hecht (Beth Israel Chabad(.

The ceremony includes live music. Chanukah gelt and cookies, doughnuts and dreidels will be distributed to all. For more information, call 203-635-4118.

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The Town of Westport posted this photo on social media:

It shows local and store officials celebrating Lux Bond & Green’s just-in-time-for-the-holidays renovation. Congratulations, of course!

But I am sure every downtown shopper — and every other merchant in Brooks Corner — joins me in asking: “Can you please get rid of those 3 valuable parking spots marked (ridiculously and archaically) ‘Reserved parking Lux Bond & Green curbside pickup’?”

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Aztec Tw0-Step 2.0 — featuring Westporters Rex Fowler, Dodie Pettit and friends — headlines a December 16 (7:45 p.m.) show at Fairfield Theater.

Click here for tickets, and more information on these folk/rock legends.

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From folk-rock to jazz: Harvie S. — an award-winning bassist, educator, composer, arranger, and producer — stars at this week’s Jazz at the Post (Thursday, December 15, shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 6:30 p.m.).

He’s joined by drummer Jason Tiemann, Norwalk native and keyboardist Rob Aries, and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

There’s a $15 cover. Reservations are strongly recommended: JazzattthePost@gmail.com.

Harvie S.

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Tom Kretsch celebrates his birthday this Saturday (December 17, 4 to 6 p.m.) with an art opening.

Gordon Fine Arts (1701 Post Road East) hosts the talented Westport photographer and his new exhibit “The Color of Water: Capturing the Sound and Beyond.”

Tom invites everyone to see his serene images, enjoy cake, and meet interesting people. For more on his work, click here.

(Photo/Tom Kretsch)

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Congratulations to  Barry Beattie. The Staples High School girls soccer coach has been named New England region Coach of the Year by United Soccer Coaches, the 30,000-member group of professional, college, high school and club coaches. He is now in contention for national Coach of the Year honors, to be announced at the organization’s annual banquet next month in Philadelphia.

This fall, Beattie led the Wreckers to their 2nd straight state championship. With a strong core of returning players, the future looks very bright for both Beattie and his team.

Coach Barry Beattie (to the right of the scoreboard, and the 2022 state champion Staples High School girls soccer team. (Photo/David G. Whitham, courtesy of The Ruden Report)

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Today’s fascinating “Westport … Naturally” close-up of a working spider web comes from Matt Murray:

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … in honor of the great photo above:

Roundup: Saugatuck Caroling, Westport Lifestyle, Jersey Boys …

A wonderful tradition returned to Saugatuck yesterday evening.

The Saugatuck Caroling Crawl came back, after a 2-year COVID-induced absence.

Six Staples Orphenians moved from one restaurant to the next, singing holiday songs and making spirits bright. They hit 14 spots in all.

(Photo/Matthew Mandell)

Carolers began their rounds at the Boathouse. They headed to Parker Mansion, Kawa Ni, The Whelk, Tutti’s and the Black Duck, before making their way to Railroad Place to sing at Tarantino, Harvest, Romanacci and Allium.

They finished by entertaining diners at Match Lobster Burger, Rizzuto’s, Viva Zapata and Dunville’s.

Grateful thanks to Orphs Sophia Betit, Zoe Schwartz, James Dobin-Smith, Alyssa Lee, Deneil Betfarhad and Ethan Tober — and the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event.

Missed it? Click below for a “taste” at Match Burger Lobster.

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Christian Siriano’s new store, The Collective West, was the site of Thursday’s Westport Lifestyle party. The magazine honored all 2022 Readers’ Choice winners.

With catering by Marcia Selden and The Home Cook, music by Drew Angus and decorations from Blossom + Stem — plus Santa Claus — it was a great way to show off the noted designer’s recently opened place.

Enjoying Westport Lifestyle’s party: Sholeh Janati (abstract artist) and 
Courtney Davis Schlesinger (comedian). (Photo./John Videler for Videler Photography)

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The curtain rose yesterday on “Jersey Boys” at the White Plains Performing Arts Center next month.

Staples High School Class of 2015 graduate Jack Baylis is part of the cast. He’s not a 4 Season — but he does sing a great number in French.

The show runs through January 8. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Jack Baylis, at the White Plains Performing Arts Center. (Photo/Cara Baylis)

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Yesterday’s Roundup piece about the local connections on “In With the Old” — the Discovery+ series highlighting transformations of abandoned structures — mentioned Westonites Brian and Megan Austin Philpott, and former Westport Planning and Zoning Commission member Al Gratrix.

But there’s much more detail

Brian Philpott is a project manager for The O’Dell Group. The local construction firm put together a team of 20 people to frame that addition in one day.

He’s just one of 4 project managers with Staples ties. Owner Chris O’Dell, Lukas Van Zanten and Chuck Hilman graduated from high school — and so did Philpott’s wife.

PS: The celebration at the end of that day was catered by Matt Storch — another Staples High grad, and the owner of Match Burger Lobster and Match restaurants.

From left: Chris O’Dell, Lukas Van Zanten, Brian Philpott, Chuck Hilman.

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Congratulations to Barry Kresch.

The Westport resident and EV Club of Connecticut president will be honored by the Connecticut Southwestern Area Clean Cities Coalition as EV Evangelist of the Year.

He has spoken on several panels, for example discussing a financial analysis he did for the Westport Police about electric vehicles. Click here for a blog post he wrote on the department’s Tesla.

The celebration is Tuesday (December 13, 11 a.m., Fodor Farmhouse, Norwalk).

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Winter arrives on December 21.

This guy — the subject of today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature — is getting ready. He’s no fool.

(Photo/Marisa Lambert)

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And finally … in honor of Jack Baylis’s “Jersey Boys” show (story above):

(‘Tis the season to support “06880.” Please click here to help — and thank you!)

 

 

 

Tutti’s: Here To Stay!

Tutti’s is not going anywhere.

The beloved family-owned Saugatuck restaurant celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. It should be a joyous time.

But a report on a local news site — headlined “With Hamlet Looming, Future Uncertain for Tutti’s Ristorante” — led to rumors of its imminent demise.

“People think we’re closing right after Christmas,” laments co-owner Maria Funicello.

“One person — a regular customer — was mad we hadn’t told him.”

They hadn’t told him, because it’s not true. Tutti’s is here for the long run.

Tutti’s owners Pasquale and Maria Funicello. They’re not going anywhere.

The Hamlet at Saugatuck — a hotel/residential/retail project in and around the train station — is still in its developmental stage. Any changes to the popular restaurant — on Riverside Avenue, at the “T” with Charles Street — are a ways off.

Maria’s history in Westport extends far beyond Tutti’s. Her husband Pasquale Funicello owned Angelina’s — for nearly a decade. His partners included his father, mother and 2 sisters. They sold the Post Road trattoria in 1981.

Pasquale and Maria had been married the year before. They moved back to their native Italy, and started a family. In 1989 the Funicellos and their children returned to the US.

She worked full-time. He made a name as a chef at memorable area restaurants, including Sole e Luna, Pinocchio, Arthur Avenue, Sunset Grille and Apulia.

In December 2002 the couple took a leap of faith, opening their own place, in a former video rental shop. Tutti Invitati soon became simply Tutti’s.

It was a great addition to Saugatuck — an homage to the neighborhood’s Italian heritage.

It still is.

The formula has not changed much. Diners — regulars and newcomers alike — are welcomed into the Funicellos’ home away from home. The space is just the right size. The décor is simple, yet warm.

And the food is delizioso.

Tutti’s Caprese salad — one of the menu’s many favorites.

The secret to Tutti’s success?

“We’re a family. And we treat customers like family,” Maria explains.

The other day, a customer celebrated his 90th birthday. The owners presented a complimentary bottle of wine,

They thank firefighters from the nearby station by feeding them regularly. When a homeless man walks in, they feed him too.

Customers return the love.

When COVID struck, Tutti’s did not miss a beat. Their already steady takeout business boomed.

During COVID, the Staples High School boys soccer program thanked police officers by buying them meals from Tutti’s. Above: 2020 soccer co-captain Jack Douglas, flanked by owner Maria Funicello and Officer Jimmy Sullivan.

“We were so busy,” Maria recalls. “People bought gift certificates they still haven’t redeemed. They handed us cash, and said, ‘Use it for whatever you need.’ They really weren’t our customers. They were like family.”

That’s why the recent rumors of Tutti’s’ demise hurt so much.

“They’re nice people. We’re working with them,” Maria says of the Hamlet developers.

“The Gault project (the previous Saugatuck redevelopment) looks great. I’m sure this one will be beautiful too.

“Whatever happens, happens. But it’s a long way away.”

Nothing is changing at Tutti’s. Certainly not the menu.

The pastas, other entrees, soups, salads, desserts and specials — like the ristorante itself, they’re not going anywhere.

“We’re settled. We know what we’re doing,” Maria says.

Tutti’s is always a Slice of Saugatuck favorite.

Tuesday was typical. At 3 p.m. — the slow, catch-your-breath time between lunch and dinner — several diners lingered. A construction worker picked up a meal to go. The phone chirped constantly, with takeout orders.

Through it al, Pasquale was in the back, cooking. Maria was out front — her usual warm, welcoming self.

Everyone was happy. Tutti’s was open for business.

And — as it celebrates its 20th anniversary — it still will be, for years to come.