Category Archives: Totally random

Roundup: Porch Party, Post Road Fawns, Bicycle For 2 …

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In less than 2 months of operation, The Porch @ Christie’s has become an iconic part of Westport.

Besides a great breakfast-lunch-and-dinner menu, excellent coffee and a popular ice cream stand, there are sweeeeet baked goods from Sweet P Bakery.

That’s the business that Porch owners Bill and Andrea Pecoriello started 2 years ago. They instruct and employ 6 bakers — all with disabilities — along with 3 professional chefs.

Yesterday, the Pecoriellos hosted a party (appropriately, on the Porch’s porch) for the Sweet P staff. Some had never seen the place where so many customers love the products they make.

Hetty Marion said “I love this! It’s such a nice atmosphere.” Autumn Perry looked forward to watching people try her creations.

In case you’re wondering what to order: Autumn’s favorite is chocolate chip cookies. Hetty favors Whoopie Pies.

Autumn Perry (left) and Hetty Marion, at yesterday’s party with Porch owners Bill and Andrea Pecoriello.

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Tomorrow (Sunday, July 25, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) marks Wakeman Town Farm’s first Sustainable Goods Eco Market.

Local vendors and artisans will be selling handwoven baskets and housewares; honey; handmade soaps, body butter and essential oils; skin and hair products for teens; candles; bags; clothing; honey and more.

There’s breakfast from The Granola Bar truck, and ice cream cones from Saugatuck Sweets too.

While adults shop green, youngsters can work on fun projects with WTF director of education Chryse Terrill, or visit with the animals. Expert Judy Panzer will answer animal questions for curious young minds.

Everyone can enjoy music by saxophonist Bobby Master, classical guitarist Jesse Balcom, steel pan and marimba player, and string quartet Vision Academy.

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Westport Animal Control and the Westport Police Department want you to know: 2 fawns have hunkered down in the grassy Post Road median in front of Splash Car Wash.

The mother thinks this is a safe spot for her little ones. Animal Control Officer Peter Reid asks people to not approach them — and when driving by, slow down!

Fawns in the median.

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SA couple considering a moving to Westport from New York would love to take the train here, and explore our town by bike.

They asked “06880” about rentals near the station. I don’t think there’s any such thing (though it might not be a bad sideline for a nearby business).

So how about it, “06880” readers: If there are no bike rentals around, does someone have a pair to lend? Maybe meet them at the station, give some tips (or even ride with them)? Or drop bikes off there, with combination locks?

Sure, it’s a long shot. But it’s also one way to help show off our amazing town — and the great people who live here.

I don’t think this is the type of bike ride our guests are looking for.

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The Hamptons? Cape Cod? LA?

Nope. The too-familiar scene yesterday afternoon, on Bridge Street:

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

And, reports Patricia McMahon, it took her 20 minutes on South Compo to get to this mess. And a total of 64 minutes to get from the beach to the light by Bridge Square.

Part of the reason may have been an accident south of I-95 exit 19, which shut all 3 lanes for an hour. But that was a few miles away.

Yikes.

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On Thursday, State Senators Will Haskell and Tony Hwang were recognized for their bipartisan effort to pass SB 954. The bill will improve college safety, and is seen as a template for federal legislation, sponsored by Congressman Jim Himes. The goal is to increase transparency around college accidents and deaths in all US colleges.

The initiative comes from College911.net, an all-volunteer organization founded in the memory of Corey Hausman. The 2018 Staples High School graduate died from what started as a preventable accident on his college campus just 15 days into his freshman year. Corey’s was the third student death since the start of that semester.

Senators Will Haskell and Tony Hwang hold certificates presented by College 911.net. Also pictured: members of the 911 Young Adult Advisory Board (Brendan Carney, Rushil Marallapu, Kate Smith and William Bean), members of Corey Hausman’s family (Joel, Nanette and Lucas), and Jeff Mitchell, an ardent supporter.

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Blood donations are still down, compared to pre-COVID times.

The Red Cross is holding a blood drive this Thursday (July 29, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) at VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 (465 Riverside Avenue).

The VFW is holding an open house the same day, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399.

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A large crowd filled Bedford Hall last night, for the Westport Woman’s Club annual “Sip and Savor” fundraiser.

Proceeds from ticket and wine sales benefit the organization’s many philanthropic and scholarship initiatives.

“It’s so nice to go out again,” one attendee said.

“Especially where there’s wine,” her friend agreed.

One of the 4 tasting stations at the Westport Woman’s Club “Sip & Savor” event. Wines came from around the world.

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The grounds of the Westport Weston Family YMCA always look gorgeous, thanks to Tony Palmer Landscaping.

Yesterday they were especially attractive. The Westport Garden Club chose the Mahackeno site for its annual #FridayFlowers display. They were created by Janet Wolgast, with help from new Y CEO Anjali McCormick.

One more reason to smile before — and after — your workout.

(Photo/Ed Simek)

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Andrew O’Brien spotted this recently at Compo Beach:

(Photo/Andrew O’Brien)

“We have many different points of view here in Westport,” he says. “But I can’t figure out where this individual stands.”

I don’t know either. But it’s clear where he sits: In the driver’s seat, without a real good look through his rear view mirror.

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Longtime Westport resident Vivian Doak of Spring, Texas, died peacefully at home, surrounded by her immediate family, last Saturday. She was 91 years.

The oldest of 5 children, Vivian graduated from high school in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. After secretarial school in New York, she held various positions. In 1952 she married Malcolm Robert Doak, an Air Force pilot. Following stints in Memphis, Japan, Long Island and Poughkeepsie, the couple settled in Westport in 1964, where they raised their family. In 2009 Vivian and her husband retired to Lake Conroe, Texas, and finally settled in Spring, Texas, at The Village at Gleannloch Farms.

While in Westport Vivian was a mother, housewife, business professional and real estate agent. She served many roles, from Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader to PTA organizer; from church deacon to leading the local Women’s Council of Realtors.

Vivian enjoyed traveling the world with her corporate pilot husband, as well as cultural jaunts with her children. The Doak home was a welcoming place for neighborhood kids, and a great environment for their children’s friends to hang out, be fed delicious meals, and be appreciated. Many still recall her warm smile and generous laugh.

Vivian possessed an ambitious, artistic talent that influenced everything she did. She was an excellent cook and skilled seamstress, skills she passed on to her children, grandchildren and beyond.

She enjoyed dancing, and studied tap and other forms. A painter from early on, she later enjoyed the hands-on hard work of building, refinishing and reupholstering furniture. She brought a creative eye to numerous heirloom quilts made for family members.

Vivian reveled in leading her grandchildren in holiday crafts, and created hand-painted curios for her children and their families. She also mastered a host of magic tricks, and juggled to entertain her grandchildren.

In retirement Doak mastered the art of theorem painting, studying at the Fletcher Farm School for the Arts in Vermont. While a member of the Wilton Presbyterian Church, Vivian designed and oversaw the construction of their on-site Memorial Garden.

Vivian will be remembered for her kindness, patience, loving manner, infectious laugh and bright smile, and as the matriarch of a strong, loving vital family.

Vivian is survived by her husband Malcolm and their 5 children: Kathi Doak of New York City; Lisa Lyne (James) of Spring, Texas; Ivy Doak (Timothy Montler) of Denton, Texas; Robin Neyrey of Spring TX, and Malcolm (Carole Ann) of Kirby, Vermont; 7 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins, and sister Marjorie Schoneboom of Long Island.

A memorial service was held at The Village at Gleannloch Farms. The family is appreciative of everyone there.

Vivian Doak

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Great blue herons are skittish — and very hard to photograph. Yet John Kantor captured this “Westport … Naturally” scene beautifully, at Sherwood Mill Pond.

(Photo/John Kantor)

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And finally … our “06880” plea for bicycle help (above) led of course to this song. I bet the couple wants to explore Westport on individual bikes. But just in case they don’t …

 

Roundup: MoCA, Minute Man, Duck! …

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MoCA Westport is participating in Connecticut’s Summer at the Museum program.

For state residents, children and one accompanying adult receive complimentary admission through September 6.

This is a great way to explore MoCA Westport, and other museums through the region. In addition to exhibitions, MoCA offers a new outdoor play space.

For more information on the free museum program, click here.

In other MoCA news: Thanks to a Connecticut Summer Enrichment Grant, they offer Camp MoCA to children beyond Westport. Campers enjoy visual arts projects, gardening and water play.

Funds also supplement MoCA’s team of counselors and counselors-in-training with additional staff from the College Corps Connecticut Program.

MoCA campers and staff members.

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This week’s #FridayFlowers display is at — fittingly, for the 4th of July — the Minute Man monument.

The weekly project is organized by the Westport Garden Club.

#FridayFlowers, at the Minute Man monument.

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The Webb Road duck has gone through a few costume changes lately, including Fathers Day (left) and graduation (right). Now (center) he’s ready to celebrate the 4th of July.

This is one holiday that is all it’s quacked up to be.

(Photo/Sarin Cheung)

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The Westport Book Shop’s Artist of the Month is Diane Pollack.

Works from her “Handmaidens” series is on view in the rear of the used book store on Jesup Green. Clay handmaidens are a source of meditation and prayer.

Diane is noted for her printmaking, collage, ink markers and hand and machine stitching, which focus on matriarchal history. Frequent themes include dance, rituals and women’s work.

Diane Pollack, at the Drew Friedman Art Place in the Westport Book Shop.

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Mark Mathias was glad he saw this precarious site in the Compo Shopping Center — not on the road.

“What could possibly go wrong?” he asks.

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

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A new HD video has been added to the Westport Country Playhouse 2021 season lineup.

“Of Mice and Men” will streaming on demand September 13 through 26. The classic drama was originally staged at the Playhouse in 2008.

“’Of Mice and Men’ includes all of the best elements of our work—a timeless story, memorable performances, theatrical designs—all skillfully brought together by our artistic leader, Mark Lamos,” said Michael Barker, Playhouse managing director. “In a season of transition and recovery, this gorgeous high definition film whets our collective appetite for a return to in-person performance, but above all reminds us that great theater transcends medium.”

Click here for tickets, call (203) 227-4177, or email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org.

“Of Mice and Men,” from the Westport Country Playhouse archives.

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And finally … George M. Cohan was born today — not “on the 4th of July” — in 1878. He died 64 years later, of cancer. Among the most popular of his 300-plus songs:

Matt And Dorian’s Alaskan Adventure

After a long, COVID-induced  year at home, Staples High School Class of 2019 friends Matt Almansi and Dorian Phillips wanted an adventure.

How about Alaska? They designed a week-long trip, with fishing at Cooper Landing, then a long drive north to hike at Denali National Park.

They booked, confirmed and double-confirmed a car rental from Dollar and Hertz. As 20-year-olds, they knew it’s the only rental car company that rents to drivers under 25.

Dorian Phillips (left) and Matt Almansi, as they set off on their trip.

After an 8-hour flight, they landed in Anchorage at 1 a.m. They ollected their bags, then went to pick up their vehicle.

But the rep at Dollar/Hertz refused to give them a car. He claimed they needed to be 25 — despite their policy clearly stating they rent to 20-year-olds for an extra fee.

Matt and Dorian had no idea what to do. How could they possibly get around in Alaska without a car? Did they have to return home?

Turo (like Airbnb, but for cars) was an option. But those rentals are very expensive. And they require advance notice.

At 2:30 a.m. — out of ideas — they called the host at their B&B, Larry Michael from Arctic Fox. They explained their situation.

Larry told them to Uber to the B&B. He would help them figure out a solution in the morning.

Exhausted, hungry and feeling somewhat defeated, they headed to Arctic Fox.

After a good night’s sleep, Larry came through big time. He called fellow B&B association member Karen French, who drove a car over.

Larry and Karen saved the day — and the week. Karen even gave Matt and Dorian a can of bear stray (just in case…).

Karen French, Matt Almansi, and bear spray.

The rest of the trip went flawlessly. The Staples grads met wonderful people, saw very cool animals, and enjoyed amazing scenery.

Matt Almansi and Dorian Phillips made it to the mountains.

The vehicle worked out perfectly.

And — despite coming close to bears — they never needed that spray.

Close encounter of a bear kind.

PS: Larry greatly appreciated his $100 tip. Tourism has been way down in Alaska during COVID. Every little bit helps his staff, he said.

No Alaskan photo gallery is complete without a moose.

Prince Philip: The Westport Connection

The death last week of Prince Philip at age 99 brought back memories for Jim Marpe. A quarter century ago, he spent 2 hours with the queen’s consort.

Marpe was not yet first selectman, so this is not a Town Hall-meets-Buckingham Palace story. Still, it’s a good one.

In 1996 Marpe was a partner with Accenture, the management and technology consulting firm. His British partners asked if he would introduce the prince to the leadership team of the major New York global bank that was his client, to help encourage their further expansion in the UK.

The meeting took place when Prince Philip was in New York.

Marpe recalls that while he and the other guests were briefed on a certain amount of protocol, he was pleasantly surprised with “the relaxed demeanor of the prince, his genuine engagement in the presentations and discussion, and a self-deprecating sense of humor.

“He knew what he didn’t know, but seemed anxious to learn,” Marpe says.

Prince Philip (left) and Jim Marpe. “You don’t shake a royal’s hand,” Marpe notes. “You just kind of clasp it.”

While this was more than 20 years before “The Crown,” and a year before the death of Princess Diana, Marpe was aware of the royal family’s “challenges,” and the prince’s propensity for making “tone-deaf” remarks.

Nevertheless, Marpe says, “our time together felt like a normal, friendly business meeting, and our conversation was comfortable.”

Reading the obituary this weekend, he noted that Phillip’s (as well as Queen Elizabeth’s) great-great-great-great-grandfather was King George III. The monarch was responsible for the British landing on Compo Beach, and the subsequent Battle of Compo Hill that is commemorated by our Minute Man Monument.

“That’s another Westport connection” with the British royal family, Marpe notes.

Sidd Finch, Sports Illustrated And Westport: The Back Story

It’s April Fools Day.

I may or may not have tricked you this morning, with my Keith Richards-teasing post.

But that’s nothing compared to what Sports Illustrated did on April 1, 1985.

The magazine — at the time, a must read for sports fans everywhere — published a cover story on Sidd Finch.

Sidd Finch. George Plimpton wrote that he liked to pitch with a boot on one foot, the other barefoot.

He was — according to writer George Plimpton -= a New York Mets pitcher who threw an astonishing 168 miles an hour. He was a Harvard graduate. He practiced yoga and played the French horn. He was a recluse.

He also did not exist. It was a hoax. (The first letters of each word in the opening paragraph spelled out “Happy April Fool’s Day.”)

But so much about the story seemed real. Including Sidd Finch’s dorm room at Harvard.

In reality, it belonged to Rob Hagebak. He was a 1982 Staples High School graduate — and the stepson of SI’s deputy art director, Westporter Rick Warner.

And that’s the God’s honest truth.

Sidd Finch/Rob Hagebak’s Harvard dorm room.

(Hat tip: Ted Gangi)

 

Roundup: Easter, Daffodils, Dragon …

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Westport is getting ready for Easter weekend.

A Sunday sunrise service is set for 6 a.m. at Compo Beach, between the cannons and the pavilion. It’s co-hosted by 4 churches: Saugatuck, Greens Farms and Norfield Congregational, and United Methodist. All participants are asked to please wear masks!

Also on Sunday, Saugatuck Congregational will hold a “drive-in” worship in the parking lot, at 10 a.m. The service — featuring live music, drama and Easter reflection — will be broadcast to car radios. Sit in the comfort of your car, or bring a beach chair and “tailgate.” The service will also be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. Click here for details.

And tomorrow (Good Friday, 11:30 a.m., Branson Hall), Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church will screen the choral piece “The Last 7 Words of the Unarmed.” It will be followed at noon by an intergenerational neighborhood walk. Following a liturgy of Stations of the Cross, it will focus on racial justice and reconciliation. Participants will make a small loop around downtown Westport, stopping at various locations to pray and reflect.

Easter sunrise service, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Rev. Alison Patton)

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It’s April — and that means National Distracted Driving Month.

The Westport Police Department is joining with the Connecticut Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office in a month-long “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” campaign.

So put down your phone — this month, and every month. The first offense will cost you $150. Then it’s $300 the second time. And $500 for the third and subsequent violations.

But if it gets to that point, you shouldn’t be driving at all.

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The daffodils all along Prospect Road are blooming beautifully.

And if you know someone who has been bullied — or helped prevent bullying — they’re yours for the taking.

Melissa Ceriale — the owner, with her husband John, of an 8-acre oasis midway down the street — invites anyone who knows people in the categories above to clip a bouquet, and give it to them.

NOTE: Please take them only from the roadway in front of #11, 13, 21 and 25 Prospect Road — and not from the gardens themselves!

Daffodils on Prospect Road. (Photo/Melissa Ceriale)

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In other nature news: Last night, a huge dead tree on the big hill at the south end of Winslow Park, not far from the North Compo parking lot, came crashing down — smack across the walking path.

Bob Cooper says: “I’ve had my eye on it for a couple years, but this was sooner than I expected. It appears the lower end was rotting inside.”

(Photo/Bob Cooper)

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The Westport Youth Commission is one of our town’s great, under-the-radar groups.

Thirty members — 15 students, 15 adults, all appointed by the 1st selectman — meet monthly. They talk about teen needs, plan projects and programs, and (this is huge) provide high schoolers with a great experience in leadership.

Of course, every year members graduate. So the YAC is looking for students now in grades 8-11 (and adult members) to serve for the 2021-’22 school year. Freshmen join a special committee, before joining the board officially as sophomoes.

The appointment process includes an application, and at least one letter of recommendation. The deadline is May 14. Click here for the application. For more information, call 203-341-1155 or email kgodburn@westportct.gov.

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The Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge is the scene for just about everything. Political protests, Memorial Day parades, fishing — you name it, it’s happened there.

Though this scene Tuesday evening was probably a first:

(Photo/Barbara McDonald)

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Aquarion has announced its 2021 mandatory sprinkler irrigation schedule.

They say: “The schedule helps conserve water supplies by reducing overwatering of lawns and gardens through a maximum 2 days per week schedule. The purpose is to ensure that local water supplies remain sufficient for critical needs such as human consumption and fire protection.

“Lawns and gardens can thrive on reduced watering. By encouraging roots to grow deeper into the soil, they’re able to absorb more moisture and nutrients, even during dry spells. Customers may continue using drip irrigation, soaker hoses and hand-held watering at any time.”

The schedule begins today, and is based on the last digit of your street address.

If your address ends in an even number, or you have no numbered address, you can water only on Sundays and Wednesdays, from 12:01 a.m. to 10 a.m., or 6 p.m. to midnight.

If your address ends in an odd, number, you can water only on Saturdays and Tuesdays, same times as above.

For more information, click here. NOTE: Some residents may qualify for a variance. For example, if you’ve installed new plantings or sod in the spring, you arw allowed to water more frequently to help get plants established.

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MoCA Westport’s new exhibit, “Smash,” is dedicated exclusively to the videos of
Marilyn Minter.

It opens to the public tomorrow (Friday, April 2). Reservations are available through the website, On Free Fridays, reservations are not required, and admission is free. Click below for a sneak peek:

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The Westport Library’s Verso Studios are certainly versatile.

Starting April 12 (7 p.m.), it’s the focus of a Video Production hybrid course. The instructor is the Library’s own Emmy Award winner, David Bibbey.

The first 4 sessions are virtual. The final 2 are in-person. Participants will learn how to use professional video and audio recording equipment, lighting, and live switching/recording/streaming equipment. Participants can also serve as live crew for video shoots.

The cost is $150. To register, click here.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

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With all the talk about vehicular traffic on a renovated or rebuilt William F. Cribari Bridge, no one has thought about what would happen if a super tanker got caught nearby.

Evan Stein has it figured out:

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And finally … today is April 1.

 

Roundup: Cribari Bridge, Charlie Capalbo, WTF, More

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1st Selectman Jim Marpe has issued a correction about the state Department of Transportation’s plans for the William F. Cribari Bridge. He says that deputy commissioner Mark Rolfe has not yet reached a final decision on the 5 alternatives under consideration.  In addition, the draft Environmental Assessment will not be released mid-March. It is at least a few months away.

Rolfe says, “The DOT seeks to continue the dialogue with stakeholders regarding this project. One potential solution is for the DOT to restore the existing bridge to a state of good repair and then transfer ownership of the bridge and a segment of Route 136 to the Town of Westport.”

Marpe noted that any DOT recommendation — when it occurs — will be subject to further review and approval.

William F. Cribari Bridge (Drone photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

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Maple sugar and tree tapping. Kids’ cooking classes. How to raise a dog. The wonderful world of honeybees.

Those are  just some of the offerings at Wakeman Town Farm, in the weeks ahead. The sustainability center contains to sustain all of us, with programs and classes for every age. Click here for details.

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Charlie Capalbo  — the 22-year-old Fairfield hockey player and grandson of Westport writer Ina Chadwick — has been diagnosed with leukemia.

The local Two Oh Three team is helping him, in his 3rd cancer battle.

The Westport-based firm has designed a line of products to raise both funds and awareness. Charlie has collaborated on the design process — a welcome distraction has he undergoes treatment.

The collection — #CapalboStrong — features products that help the community show Charlie that they’re all in this fight with him. Funds from products sold are assist Capalbo’s medical and travel expenses, while at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The collection was launched Sunday, to his network of friends. Hundreds of orders poured in. The Two Oh Three has now launched the custom designs on their full website.

Charlie says, “Seeing people ordering gear with my Capalbo Strong logo makes me feel connected to the outside world– like I know my army of friends and family are with me, even though I can’t see them now due to COVID-19. I’m so excited for this!”

“Our daily FaceTime calls with Charlie have been rewarding beyond words,” says Two Oh Three co-founder and Staples High School graduate Roscoe Brown.

“Constantly updating him on the number products we’ve sold helps remind him just how many people he has fighting along side him.”

Click here for the Two Oh Three #CapalboStrong Collection.

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Bob Stefanowski lost his race for Connecticut governor in 2018. But he’s a winner now, promoting area restaurants during COVID with a series of “Let’s Save CT Restaurants” videos.

His latest features Winfield Street Coffee, with owner Breno Donatti. It was filmed at their Stamford location — not the Post Road West shop — but it’s worth a watch.

Breno talks about the many ways that — despite the pandemic — Winfield Street gives back to the community, from providing meals for the homeless to sponsoring a holiday toy drive.

Here’s the quick video. When you’re done watching, place an order!

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The Staples boys basketball team opened its home season yesterday with a victory over Westhill.

The only way to watch the win was on the livestream. Spectators are prohibited from gyms this winter, in all high school sports.

But the stands were “filled” — with fatheads. That’s the name for cardboard figures of fans. It’s a way to make the gym a little less lonely. It’s also a great fundraiser for the Staples Boys Basketball Association.

How many folks do you recognize in the photo below? Besides (of course) me — directly underneath the “E.”

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Christmas is long over. But Anthropologie’s giraffe remains penned in, between the store and Church Lane. Animal lovers, please help!

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … here’s wishing Ed Sheeran a “perfect” 30th birthday today.

 

Trump Trial: The Westport Connection

I know you’ve been waiting for an “06880” link to President Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial.

Here it is: defense attorney Michael van der Veen grew up on Lamplight Lane, off Hillspoint Road near Old Mill Beach.

Michael van der Veen, in the 1978 Long Lots Junior High School yearbook, “Lion’s Clause.”

After Long Lots Junior High, he — like his siblings — headed to Choate Rosemary Hall. He graduated from the private school in 1981, then went on to Ohio Wesleyan University, Quinnipiac School of Law and Temple University School of Law.

He’s a founding partner of van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn and Levin in Philadelphia.

Which you or I might pronounce, well, “Philadelphia.” When van der Veen called it “Philly-delphia” earlier today, senators from both parties laughed.

The Philadelphia lawyer had no idea why. But he sure had some words for them.

(Hat tip: Kathleen Fazio)

Pic Of The Day #1396

Minerva get ready to snowshoe on Whitney Street (Photo/Molly Alger)

Pic Of The Day #1383

Losing one’s head on Main Street (Photo/Michelle Lieberson)