Category Archives: Sports

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: Politics, Jogging, More


In the wake of last weekend’s hate messages on Church Lane, leaders of Westport’s Democratic and Republican parties — along with the town’s 3 selectmen, also representing both parties — issued this statement:

As chairs of the Westport Republican and Democratic Town Committees and elected leaders of Westport, we publicly and jointly denounce the hateful messaging that was discovered in town on Sunday morning. We believe that regardless of political affiliation or personal beliefs, there is no place for disrespect, hateful messaging or violence to express one’s perspective. We hope that all Westport residents will do what they can to maintain civility both leading up to and beyond Election Day.


The Joggers Club has new long and short courses at Compo Beach. Members meet every Saturday at 8 a.m. Annual membership ($50 individual, $75 family) in the fun, social organization includes running gear and invitations to private running parties. Click here for more information. For routes, check out Facebook or Strava.


And finally … Helen Reddy died Tuesday, at 78. Her most famous song is an anthem that resonates today, 48 years after it reached #1. But there’s a local connection with the Australian-born artist too: She was the guitar-playing nun in “Airport 1975” (released in 1974) who comforted a sick little girl on a doomed plane. That child was Westport’s own Linda Blair.

Roundup: Cidny Bullens, Car Seats, Palmball, More


Cidny Bullens just released his 9th country album, “Walkin’ Through the World.”

It’s his first record in a decade — and his first as a man.

The Washington Post recently profiled the trans artist. The story described his life as Cindy, including singing with Elton John and Kiki Dee on “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” and her marriage to Dan Crewe — brother of Four Seasons producer Bob Crewe.

The article also mentions the couple’s 2 daughters, Reid and Jessie, and their move to Westport in the 1980s.

“Crewe and Bullens were close friends in a monogamous marriage, but their relationship wasn’t easy,” the Post says. “Crewe was gay. Bullens felt trapped behind the wheel of a minivan.”

Click here for the full, fascinating story. (Hat tip: Fran Taylor)


Amy Schneider spotted this sign yesterday downtown. The free car seat checks were courtesy of the Westport Police Department, in the parking lot by their headquarters.

Our men (and women) in blue take their motto — “to serve and protect” — to an entirely new level!

(Photo/Amy Schneider)


Move over, pickleball. Make way, spikeball. There’s a new new game in town: palmball.

The game was invented on Cape Cod in the 1990s. 18-year-old Steven Creelman forgot to bring a Kadima paddle to the beach. So he and a buddy picked up some flat rocks, and kept a tennis ball off the ground holding those.

Back home, he and his friends laid out a court with a garden hose, extension cord and rope. He pitched the game to the director of phys. ed. at the University of Massachusetts, where we was a student, and it became an actual gym class.

Rock paddle is dangerous, of course. So this summer — when he daughters got old enough — Creelman cut wood paddles to the same size.

They took the game to the beach. Combining tennis, volleyball, Kadima and spikeball, it was an instant hit.

On Saturday, there’s a palmball tournament at Evan Felcher’s house here. In 2018, he played on Staples High School’s state champion tennis team.

You heard it here first. (Hat tip: Ben Sturner)


And finally … Speaking of the Four Seasons (see above): Tommy DeVito, a member of that group even before Frankie Valli joined them, died Monday, from COVID-19. He was 92.

Here are the real Jersey Boys:

Photo Challenge #299

Last week’s Photo Challenge gave readers a sporting chance.

Sportsmen Dave Harrison, Rich Stein, Dan Vener, Tom Wall and Andrew Colabella all knew that Werner Liepolt’s shot showed the small field next to the original Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street (now senior housing).

Give credit to Fred Cantor too, whose cryptic comment (“home field advantage”) references both Liepolt’s home next to the field, and the fact that Fred has an apartment at The Saugatuck himself.

Donna Hansen kicked herself for guessing it was the softball field behind Town Hall — though she attended Saugatuck El, and lived around the corner on South Compo. Click here for the image — and all the wrong guesses too.

If you thought last week’s photo was a bit unkempt (like Darcy Sledge and Wendy Cusick, both of whom commented about invasive vines), you probably won’t like this week’s challenge either.

But it’s pretty recognizable. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Hal Hutchison)

Roundup: Laddie Lawrence, Christian Siriano, Stephanie Szostak, More


Starting Monday (September 21), the Board of Education will resume in-person meetings.

Board members, administrators and invited speakers will all be present. Members of the public can participate via real-time broadcasts, and comment via Google Docs.

“Unfortunately, we cannot predict or control the turnout at our meetings, and a large gathering at a public meeting of the board could pose a public health risk,” the Board says.

“In evaluating the viability of a limited number of socially distant seats for the public in person, the logistical challenges of ensuring social distancing and mask-wearing, determining who is allowed into the meeting and who is turned away, etc., are substantial and might interfere with the work of the board in real time.

“We are heartened by the substantial increase in public participation through our use of Google Docs. This method will continue to afford anyone who feels uncomfortable about coming out to a public meeting during a pandemic a voice in our decision-making process.”


As Architectural Digest notes, fashion designer Christian Siriano moved to a modern house near Compo Beach a few months ago.

And as alert “06880” reader Mary Hoffman notes (via the Wall Street Journal), the backyard of that home was the site yesterday for a fashion show. Among the guests: Billy Porter.

Siriano famously dressed Porter in a tuxedo ballgown for the Oscars.

Billy Porter in Westport. (Photo/Charlie Sykes for AP)


After 55 years as a summer staple, the Westport Parks & Recreation Roadrunner races went virtual this year.

The weekly events — starting first with a couple of miles, increasing each Saturday to a 10-mile run just before Labor Day — are the baby (and now near senior citizen) of Staples High School’s longtime track coach and guru Laddie Lawrence.

The most recent Road Race Management newsletter — aimed at race directors and industry professionals — highlights Lawrence’s long involvement with the series. There’s an extensive interview looking back on 55 years, and vintage photos. Click here to see.

Laddie Lawrence, at a Roadrunner race finish line.


The Westport Library edges one step closer to normalcy. On Monday (September 21), the Library Store begins offering personal shopping appointments.

The 15-minute sessions can be in person or virtual (via FaceTime or WhatsApp). Slots are available weekdays, from 2 to 6 p.m. Click here to schedule.

The Store accepts credit cards, checks, Apple Pay and Google Pay — no cash. Purchases made virtually will be scheduled for pick up weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, click here.


Last night’s Remarkable Theater screening of “Top Gun” — a fundraiser for the Catch a Lift Fund — drew a great crowd to the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Fall is almost here. But Westport’s love of the pop-up drive-in theater — and support for excellent causes — has not wavered one bit.


Dave Briggs’ intriguing Instagram Live interactive interviews continue today (Friday, September 18, 6:30 p.m.). The former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox News anchor’s guest is Westport’s own noted actor Stéphanie Szostak (“A Million Little Things,” “The Devil Wears Prada”).

You can listen — and participate — on Instagram:@WestportMagazine.


The other day, “06880” mentioned Positive Directions’ new Teacher Support group. It meets weekly via Zoom. The cost was $40.

Now, however — thanks to the generosity of Positive Directions’ board of directors –this group will be underwritten. It’s now free to all teachers and school personnel. Email amiceli@positivedirections.org, or call 203-227-7644 to reserve a spot.


Groove is known for its trendy clothes, for women, children and babies.

But on Saturday, October 24 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), the Post Road West boutique welcomes Dana Ciafone to a book signing. The author of Celebrating Bentley — the kids’ book about a boy and his dog — will be there. All profits go to Little Black Dog Rescue.


And finally … in these days of wildfires, hurricanes and much more, it’s nice to hear James Taylor’s soothing voice. No matter how dark the lyrics. (Hat tip: Jerry Kuyper)

Roundup: Sunrise Rotary, Dylan Diamond, Wildfires, More


Every year, Westport’s Sunrise Rotary raises nearly $100,000 from 2 events: The Duck Race, and a wine tasting gala.

Eighty percent of the proceeds are donated to organizations that serve the health, hunger, safety and education needs of adults and children from Stamford to New Haven. The other 20% funds disease prevention, health, peace promotion, education and economic development across the globe.

COVID -19 forced the cancellation of both fundraisers.

To partially fill the gap — and provide safe, fun activities that may also attract new members — Sunrise members collaborated with the Remarkable Theater. They showed “School of Rock” on the Imperial Avenue parking lot screen. The famous yellow duck — and a duckling — were there, welcoming movie-goers.

More events are planned. To learn more about membership, email
info@westportsunriserotary.org. To support charitable giving, send a check to
Westport Sunrise Rotary, PO Box 43, Westport, CT 06881-0043.

Nothing is wrong. The convertible’s driver adjusted its hydraulics, for a comfortable viewing spot at the Remarkable Drive-In.


As a Staples High School student, Dylan Diamond made frequent appearances on “06880.”

At 15, he built an app that allowed classmates to view their schedules and grades — then rolled it out nationally, with hundreds of thousands of downloads.

He followed up with apps that helped skiers find buddies on the slope, and let users book everything from babysitters and yardwork to concert tickets.

Now Inc. has taken notice. He and Wharton School classmate Max Baron have gone all-in on Saturn, a calendar app.

Inc. says “they are working to build community around the calendar in high schools, with a big vision fueling them: to own the time layer of the internet.”

To hear Inc.’s podcast — in which the two discuss “why retention is social, how living together has given the co-founders an ‘always on’ mindset, and what they learned from their early work experience at Tesla and Havas” — click here(Hat tip: John Dodig)

Dylan Diamond, in San Francisco. While still a Staples High School student, he scored a coveted invitation to Facebook’s F8 conference.


How bad are the wildfires out west?

Peter Gold notes that Connecticut has 3.548 million acres.  As of Saturday, over 3.2 million acres have burned in California this fire season alone. In addition, 900,000 acres burned in Oregon, and over 600,000 more in Washington.

“It’s hard to imagine an area almost one-and-a-half times the size of Connecticut burned in just 3 states,” he says.

Battling a blaze in California.


Jane Mansbridge is a professor of political leadership and values at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

A recent Harvard Gazette story traces her “jagged trajectory” from her youth in Weston, and years at Staples High School (Class of 1957) to her current role as one of the world’s leading scholars of democratic theory.

She loved growing up in a small town. But, she says, she was bullied in Weston and at Staples for being “bookish and a smart girl.”

Realizing that not everyone liked the kind of person she was, or the values she held may have contributed to her later drive to find out more about people who were not like her, she says.

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: A. David Wunsch)

Jane Mansbridge (Photo/Stephanie Mitchell for Harvard staff)


The porgies are in! This was the scene yesterday, at Sherwood Island State Park. Of course, fishermen always observe social distance.

(Photo/Roseann Spengler)


And finally … On this day in 1814, Francis Scott Key watched a British bombardment of Maryland during the War of 1812. Inspired by the sight of an American flag still flying at daybreak, he wrote a poem. “The Defence of Fort M’Henry” was later set to music. In 1931 “The Star-Spangled Banner” became our national anthem. One of the most famous versions was sung by our wonderful neighbor, Weston’s Jose Feliciano, before Game 5 of the 1968 World Series in Detroit. It was controversial at the time; no one had ever delivered such a non-traditional rendition.

His performance nearly ended his career. But 42 years later — in 2010 — he was invited back to Detroit, to perform it again. This time, the crowd roared.

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:

Adam Bernard: Beastmode Beats Cancer

Adam Bernard’s first job was at Torno Hardware. “I carried large bags of manure,” he remembers.

He’s always been a hard worker. The young Westporter started martial arts at 7 years old, and worked his way through various belts at Fred Villardi’s Fairfield studio.

He had not enjoyed writing — until he learned how, at Fairfield Prep (Class of 1996). He honed his journalism skills at Hofstra University, then started as a Connecticut Post sportswriter before turning to his first love: music.

Bernard covers the indie scene, discovering new talent “in tiny venues with sticky floors” watching up to 100 bands live each year. He wrote 14 national magazine cover stories. (“I interviewed Katy Perry before she kissed a girl, and 50 Cent before he looked to get rich or die trying,” he says.)

Adam Bernard (Photo/Krystal Leleck)

All the while, he continued martial arts.

In January of 2017, his instructors told him he was ready for his 5th degree black belt test in June.

Three weeks later, Bernard was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It had already spread to his lungs.

Four days after that, he had surgery. He has nothing but praise for his oncologist, Dr. Edward Duda.

Bernard was undeterred. “I looked at it as an aggravation,” he says. “I’m fortunate that testicular cancer has a great cure rate.”

His chemotherapy regimen was “super-aggressive.” But Bernard kept training — at Villari and CrossFit — 6 days a week.

Because chemo affected his blood, he could not hit things — or be hit by them. That’s not easy for a martial artist. But he adapted.

Adam Bernard, at his dojo.

Every Memorial Day, CrossFit does a brutal workout. Bernard finished — wearing a 20-pound vest.

Two weeks after finishing chemo, Bernard took his black belt test. He passed.

The next day, X-rays revealed a tumor was still on his lung. “It was not the Disney ending I wanted,” he says.

He kept going after his second surgery. He competed in the CrossFit open. Today, Bernard is healthy.

And he’s the author of ChemBro: Embracing Beastmode to Beat Cancer.

“People told me I had to write that book,” he says. “I didn’t think I was doing anything special. But someone said, ‘Most people aren’t like you. They hear cancer, and assume the worst.”

He also realizes that some people are uncomfortable talking — or reading — about testicular cancer.

“If I can be open about my story, and help someone get over embarrassment so they’re tested early before it spreads — like mine did — and they can have some semblance of control over their life, that’s great. Having some power in your life is huge.”

It took another year for Bernard to find a publisher. But when the owner of Dreaming Big Publications — a cancer survivor herself – read his pitch, she was hooked. She liked his story, his optimism — and his humor.

ChemBro came out in early September. Quickly, it zoomed into Amazon’s Top 100 list of motivational/self-help new releases.

“I want people to feel the vibe, the point of the book — to find the warrior spirit inside themselves,” Bernard says. “And I want them to lead a healthy lifestyle.”

Every morning now, the newly published author walks to CrossFit to trian. He’s looking forward to the day his dojo reopens, so he teach martial arts live rather than online.

He looks forward too to returning to live music venues — the stickier the floors, the better.

Meanwhile, he’s doing his best to get his new book in the hands of people who could be inspired, or educated, by it.

“If you told me 5 years ago I’d write a book about beating cancer, while earning my 5th degree black belt — well, I wouldn’t have known I was ready for everything,” he says.

“But I was.”

(To order Chembro: Embracing Beastmode to Beat Cancer, click here. To read Adam Bernard’s blog, click here.)

Roundup: School Traffic, Football, Yarn Day, More


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Dave Ruden at work.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


And finally … in honor of Local Yarn Store Day:

Roundup: American Graffiti, Baseball, Parking, More


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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