Category Archives: Westport Country Playhouse

Roundup: Le Penguin, Portables, Jim Himes …

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Each year, the American Institute of Architects’ Connecticut chapter sponsors a “Connecticut Treasures” contest.

The public is invited to explore the wealth and diversity of buildings from each of our state’s 8 counties. Then they vote on their favorite — based on design, historical relevance, or just because it’s the county they live in.

This year’s theme is “theaters.” The Fairfield County entrant is the Westport Country Playhouse.

Voting ends Friday (July 23, 11:59 p.m.). Click here for details.

Will the Westport Country Playhouse be this year’s AIA state treasure?

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From the Pickle Barrel to Blue Lemon and — most recently — Le Penguin, the building in the corner of Sconset Square nearest the Post Road has been many things.

It will soon be something else. When we find out exactly what, you’ll be the first to know.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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It took a while. But the portable classrooms at Bedford Middle School are finally back on the road.

They were used when Coleytown Middle School was closed, due to mold. The school reopened in January.

Moving the massive structures was not easy. The turn from into the exit drive, from the north side of the school, was tight. And the parking lots are the the midst of a repaving project, making the going extra tough.

The portables served us well, when we needed them. Now they’re are on their way to some other district, for some other reason.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Congressman Jim Himes was in town last Saturday, for a “town hall” meeting at the Westport Library.

If you couldn’t get there — or want another chance to talk to your representative — he’s hosting a virtual town hall this afternoon (Tuesday, July 20, 5:30 p.m.).

Click here to submit a video question. Click here to watch the event, on Himes’ Facebook page.

Congressman Jim Himes, at a previous “town hall” meeting.

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He’s still 8 years away from his driver’s license. But 8-year-old Dylan Rosen got a glimpse of the good life Sunday, at the Westport PAL classic car show.

This Camaro was cool 60 years before he was born. It still is.

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Dylan may be only 8 years old. But I’d bet the farm he can park better than a somehow-licensed driver, who walked away from this job on Riverside Avenue:

(Photo/Michael Chait)

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Still speaking of cars: This morning’s post about traffic woes in town drew plenty of comments.

Stephanie Bass has her own thoughts. This sign sits outside her Old Mill-area home:

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Ben & Jerry’s is on one side of the Middle East controversy. Morton Williams is on the other.

The Vermont-based ice cream maker announced it will no longer sell in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In response, the New York supermarket change is slashing its Ben & Jerry’s products by 70%, will stop promoting it in its weekly ads, and will demote the brand to the “least desirable locations” of its freezers.

That quote comes from Avi Kaner, Morton Williams co-owner, and former Westport 2nd selectman and Board of Finance chair.

He explained: “Of all the places in the world to boycott, Ben & Jerry’s has chosen to target the one Jewish nation in the world.”

Click here for the full New York Post story.

Avi Kaner in a Bronx Morton Williams store. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the New York Times)

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I try to stay away from beach sunrise or sunset photos. I get up to 10 a day, and can’t possibly use 99% of them. (Gentle hint…)

But this shot was different. Here’s how to make the “06880” sunrise cut:

(Photo/Kevin Carroll)

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George Billis Gallery on Main Street hosts a free, open cocktail reception for its next group show tomorrow (Wednesday, July 21, 5 to 7 p.m.).

Featured artists include Derek Buckner, Julian Cardinal, Alice Federico, Paul Pitsker, Jeffrey Reed and Jarvis Wilcox.

“Key Bird” (Paul Pitsker)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image is from Judith Katz’s garden of earthly delights.

(Photo/Judith Katz)

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And finally … on this date in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk walk on the moon. Ten others have followed. The last 2 — Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt — made the journey in 1972.

There are squintillions of songs with “moon” in the title. These are a few favorites:

Roundup: Ali Stroker, Kyle Martino, Saugatuck Rowers …

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Tony Award winner Ali Stroker (Ado Annie “Oklahoma!”) brings her magic to the Westport Country Playhouse on Saturday July 24. The live, in-person performance is next in the storied theater’s summer cabaret series.

Stroker — who recently starred in the Lifetime film “Christmas Ever After” — made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway, in 2015’s “Spring Awakening.’

Stroker has soloed at the Kennedy Center, New York’s Town Hall, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Her mission is to improve the lives of others — disabled or not — through the arts.

Stroker’s appearance at the Playhouse has special resonance. It’s the same stage that premiered “Green Grow the Lilacs” in 1940. Richard Rogers checked it out here — and was inspired to collaborate with Oscar Hammerstein on a play that became “Oklahoma!” The rest — including Stroker’s role — is history.

Tickets for “An Evening with Ali Stroker” start at $25 for performance only.  Supporter tickets — raising funds to reopen the Playhouse — start at $150; they include VIP perks and a pre-show cocktail party. Click here for tickets, call (203) 227-4177, or email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org.

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Soccer fans have known 1999 Staples High School graduate Kyle Martino as the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year, MLS pro with the Columbus Crew and Los Angeles Galaxy, US national team player and NBC Sports analyst.

Soon, Bridgeport youngsters will know him as the man who brought an innovative soccer court to their city.

This Saturday (July 17, 3 p.m., Cesar Batalla Elementary School, 606 Howard Avenue), Martino introduces the Over Under Initiative. His unique invention is an in-ground goal that pops up quickly and easily, converting basketball courts into multi-sport surfaces, for soccer, handball and floor hockey. It could be a game-changer (pun intended).

The public is invited to Saturday’s ceremony at the Batalla School. For more information click here, and watch the video below.

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Speaking of sports: There are thousands of reasons to support Westport PAL — as in, the thousands of youngsters who are helped each year by their sports programs and college scholarships.

Support is especially important now. For the past 2 years, PAL’s biggest fundraiser — the July 4th fireworks — have been canceled.

So be sure to head to this Sunday’s car show (July 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., railroad station parking lot near Railroad Place and Franklin Street). In addition to cool cars, there’s food and raffle prizes.

Tickets are $15 each. But kids — that is, anyone under 12 — are free. That’s how PAL rolls: Even at their fundraiser, they’re all about the kids.

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Very talented Weston photographer Alison Wachstein is offering special “Porchtraits” — 20-minute photo sessions on her porch, and a retouched digital file posted on Facebook — for a $100 minimum contribution to International Waldenstroms Macroglobulemia Foundation. It funds research, education and support for people diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The “Share the Love” portraits can be of families, couples, siblings, best friends — even with a cherished pet. Larger groups that can’t be accommodated on the porch will be photographed in her garden.

A limited number of sessions are available. Click here for the donation link. Call 203-226-5296 for an appointment.

Alison Wachstein took this Woog family portrait in 1991.

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Three Saugatuck Rowing Club alumnae medaled at the World Rowing U23 Championships last weekend in the Czech Republic. The event included 800 rowers from 55 countries.

Two sets of medalists — the women’s pair and women’s lightweight pair — were coached by Gordon Getsinger, SRC director of rowing and junior girls head coach.

The women’s pair, including SRC’s Caitlin Esse and Lucy Koven, rowed to silver in an exciting finish. SRC rower Bonnie Pushner and Lindsey Rust raced to a bronze medal in their event. Both pairs trained in Westport under Getsinger’s watch for the past several months.

Westport resident, SRC alum and 2018 Staples High School graduate Kelsey McGinley medaled twice. She earned silver in the 4- (4 without coxswain), then 2 hours later rowed to gold in the 8+. McGinley has been training in Iowa City with the USRowing Selection Camp since early June. She rows at Stanford University, and is a first team All-American.

Kelsey McGinley (far left) with her 4- team.

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Positive Directions has a new executive director.

The Westport-based prevention, counseling and recovery support non-profit welcomes Vanessa Wilson. She spent 10 years at YWCA Greenwich Domestic Abuse Services, most recently as manager of operations.

She earned an MA from Fairfield University. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Vanessa Wilson

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Alan Hahn Eugley died June 30. He was surrounded by family at his Westport home, following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

A retired banking executive, Alan graduated from Lehigh University with a BS in economics and an MS in business economics. His 45-year career included executive positions at Bankers Trust, Marine Midland Bank and Fiserv.

Alan grew up in Winchester, Massachusetts, and spent summers at his family’s cottage in Lincolnville, Maine. He played guitar in college and high school bands, and later delighted in his daughter Allison’s flute performances and playing guitar with his son Seth.

During retirement, Alan spent every Sunday with his special needs daughter Elizabeth. Alan also helped with his wife Emily’s art exhibition installations.

A 27-year resident of Westport, Alan enjoyed boating and golf, and was an active member of the Longshore Men’s Golf Association. Known for his jovial and upbeat approach to life, Alan appreciated a 5 p.m. martini, no matter where he was.

Alan is survived by his wife Emily Hamilton Laux; mother Mary Louise; daughters Allison (Geoff) and Elizabeth; son Seth; sisters Gwen (Rick) and Melissa (Paul); stepchildren Madeleine and Jack; niece and nephews Nicolina, Paul and Will, and grandchildren Amelia and Brady. He is also survived by his former wife Susan McShane. His wife Karen Treadwell predeceased him.

A memorial will be held in Westport in August. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to STAR, which provides services to special-needs children and adults in Connecticut.

Alan Hahn Eugley

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Luisa Francoeur. She spotted this guy on an early morning Old Hill walk.

When she returned, he was still there — waiting, it seemed, for her.

(Photo/Luisa Francoeur)

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And finally … sure, today is Bastille Day. But I paid homage to France’s national day last year.

July 14 is also the date when, in 1881, outlaw/gunfighter/murderer Billy the Kid was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in New Mexico.

Everyone of a certain age remembers Billy Joel’s “Billy the Kid.” Most of the lyrics are “artistic license” (a kind way of saying, “BS”). And of course, we’re all left to wonder: Is the “Billy” from “Oyster Bay, Long Island” in the final verse actually Billy Joel himself?

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:

Roundup: Senior Center, Benches, Best Of …

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Most Westport seniors are too young to remember Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign song.

But all can now sing “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Yesterday, the Senior Center reopened. It was shut for 15 months, during the pandemic.

Director Sue Pfister, Friends of the Senior Center president Jack Klinge, and selectmen Jim Marpe and Jen Tooker spoke.

Then — justlikethat — one of Westport’s most popular institutions was back in action.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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On Wednesday (July 7, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), the Board of Finance considers a request by Public Works for “standard street furniture in the Downtown Area.”

The $154,000 appropriation includes 18 benches; 32 trash and recycling receptacles; 16 bike racks; 7 fixed tables (6 chairs per table), and 2 café tables (4 chairs per table).

The outdoor furniture would be located along the river and in Parker Harding Plaza, and on Main Street, Elm Street, Church Lane, the Post Road (east to Bay Street), and in the Taylor parking lot.

The 5-year capital forecast includes the item, at a funding level of $275,000.

The type of benches requested (right), and their proposed placement downtown.

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Bruce Waldera is well-known to many Westporters, for his years of service at De Mattia Fuel, near the Sherwood Island Connector. He started around age 14, and continued until they closed a decade or so ago.

Bruce is a kind, caring, down-to-earth, compassionate, funny, fun, selfless and hardworking man. He loves Westport.

Now he’s battling brain cancer. A GoFundMe page has been set up so that he, his wife Amy — a longtime special education paraprofessional in Westport — and 3 daughters can spend quality time together — and manage some of their many medical bills. Click here to help.

Bruce Waldera

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For the second time in a month, a large yacht is anchored off Compo Beach.

Matt Murray wonders if it’s waiting for the July 4th fireworks. If so, it will be there a while. This year’s display — which would have happened tonight — was canceled by COVID.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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The July/August issue of Westport Magazine includes its annual “Best Of the Gold Coast” lists. There are more than 175 categories, from Cocktails and Seafood to Jewelry and Workouts. Westport winners include Manna Toast, Match Burger Lobster, Soleil Toile and WEST.

It’s been a tough year for small local businesses. This issue celebrates them.

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Artistic swimming — formerly “synchronized swimming” has been an Olympic sport since 1984.

Alessandra Gavriloiu won’t be going to this month’s Tokyo Olympics. But Paris in 2024?

The Staples High School rising freshman was part of the New Canaan YMCA Aquianas team that finished 3rd in the nation Tuesday. She and Alaina Argiriou of Darien took 10th in the duet competition too. Both were in the 13-15 age group.

The Junior Olympic competition took place at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Congratulations, Alessandra. On to Paris, oui?

Alessandra Gavriloiu (left) and Alaina Argiriou.

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The Westport Library has some intriguing events ahead. They include:

“Camp Explore: Homemade Microphone Magic” (Tuesday, July 6, 10 to 11;30 a.m): Students in grades 5 to 8 use repurposed materials from around the house, to build a working microphone for use anytime and anywhere. Click here to register.

“Burning Down the House: The New Republican Party” (Wednesday, July 7, 7 p.m., livestream): Princeton historian and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer shares the history of the “new” Republican party with Bruce McGuirk, leader of Pages Through the Ages (the Library’s history discussion group). Click here to register.

“Verso Studios Production Pizza Party” (Monday, July 12, 6 to 8 p.m.). Find out about opportunities to learn, laugh and let rip your creative talents. Click here to register.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

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Westport Country Playhouse Radio Theater — a series, with WSHU-FM — presents a new humor and suspense play. “Special Delivery” (Saturday, July 10,  1:06 p.m.; rebroadcast Sunday, July 11, 4:06 p.m.). is also available on the Playhouse website (westportplayhouse.org) from July 12 through August 1.

“Special Delivery” is about Leesa Colescott, a courier of fine arts. She must deliver not only a strange piece of art, but also an angry 12-year-old boy named Asher, to the home of an uncle he’s never met – during a raging thunderstorm.

Their destination — an isolated farmhouse — is full of surprises, including other-worldly voices coming from the paintings on the walls. Running time is 35 minutes.

For more information, click here.

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“Westport … Naturally” roams to Saugatuck Shores today, for this serene shot:

(Photo/Patti Brill)

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And finally … today is the 183rd day of the year. Only 182 remain. We’re more than halfway to 2022.

Roundup: Backpacks, Wings, Rotary …

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Many religious organizations take deserved summer breaks.

The Conservative Synagogue is launching a big Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) project. Their goal is to supply over 100 backpacks, fully stocked with school supplies, to local children in for the start of the school year this coming fall.

The first phase — during July — involves fundraising. Then come packing the backpacks, and delivering. For more information, click here.

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Westporters of a certain age remember fondly their introduction to the Westport Country Playhouse.

Now young Westporters of a certain age — grades kindergarten through 3 — return to the storied theater. “Story Hour with Jenny” — a live, in-person series — presents an interactive reading of the picture book “Wings” on Sunday, July 11 (11 a.m.). It’s about a boy whose appearance makes him the target of bullies.

“Story Hour with Jenny” is a series of readings of social justice picture books written and illustrated by BIPOC artists. Themes center on the 4 pillars of the Playhouse’s education department: empathy, collaboration, activism and literacy.

To register, click here, call 203-227-4177, or email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org.

Jenny Nelson, Westport Country Playhouse director of education and community engagement.

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Westport Rotary Club has a new president.

Lyla Steenburgen took over from Leslie Roberts at the annual Pass-the-Gavel Lobster Bake, at the Ned Dimes Marina.

“During the pandemic, a lot has been written about happiness and how to find fulfilment in life,” said Lyla, gift advancement officer at Bridgeport Hospital Foundation/Yale New Haven Health.

“Experts all say that it comes from connecting, belonging, being a part of something bigger than yourself, and engaging with and helping others – that’s Rotary. Rotary gives us the opportunity to render some service to the world in return for living in it. We are healthier and better citizens because of it.”

Leslie Roberts (left) hands the gavel to new Rotary Club president Lyla Steenbergen.

The Sunrise Rotary also changed presidents, at the same site. George Masumian will be replaced by Rick Jaffe. Mark Mathias sent along this drone video of the event:

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“06880” has posted plenty of “entitled parking” photos — many of them at Fresh Market.

This driver took up 6 spots (!) yesterday. But big props. If you’re going to park a vehicle that size, this is the way to do it.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows droppings collected by Jay Dirnberger. They’re from a kousa dogwood tree.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … today in 1846, Adolphe Sax patented the saxophone.

(Two questions on the Doors’ song: Why did Robbie Kreiger have an amazing black eye? And did Jim Morrison actually forget his cue, midway through?)

Roundup: Yanks’ Bat Girl, Playhouse, Ireland …

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Gwen Goldman McLoughlin’s star turn as New York Yankees’ bat girl — 60 years after the team rejected the 10-year-old’s request — has gotten plenty of national media attention. “06880” covered the inspiring story on Sunday.

One of the best pieces was in yesterday’s New York Times. Click here to read. Then click below for a tweet that will have you smiling all day.

Whether you love the Yanks or hate them, you gotta admit: This is pure class.

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Ninety years to the day after it first opened, the Westport Country Playhouse celebrated a new season last night.

The audience was COVID-limited in size. They enjoyed a recorded — not live — presentation of “Tiny House,” a clever comedy.

But — after last year’s remote-only season, and some decisions about how to present this year’s shows — there was a palpable sense of joy among last night’s theater-goers.

The Playhouse has survived one of the toughest times in its 9-decade history. They’ve got a full schedule of events this year (most remote, a few cabarets and such in person).

The doors were open again last night, exactly 90 years after the former tannery in an apple orchard began its run as one of America’s premier summer theaters.

Here’s wishing 90 more great years, to one of Westport’s greatest jewels!

Welcome back! (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Optimum will “dramatically reduce” upload speeds for new customers on July 12, according to published reports.

The Verge says that the cable company — owned by Altice — will slice some plans from 35 Mbps to 5 Mbps.

The change affects new customers serviced by Optimum’s non-fiber network. It will impact current subscribers only if they upgrade, downgrade or otherwise change their service. Download speeds should remain the same,

The change, Altice told The Verge, is to bring the plan  “in line with other ISPs and aligned with the industry.” (Click here for the Verge story; click here for a longer story from Ars Technica. Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

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Concerts at the Levitt Pavilion is an Angus family tradition since they moved here in 1993. He grew up watching the Hall Family Band Night (and was part of Music for Children for a long time).

Some of Drew Angus’ most memorable Westport nights were with legends Nile Rodgers and Chic, John Fogerty, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and most recently Bruce Hornsby. 

He remembers too when his grandmother brought panties to throw on stage for Tom Jones.

He’s seen great regional acts like Philly’s Low Cut Connie and Brooklyn’s Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. He enjoyed some of the country’s best blues and rock acts at Blues Views & BBQ. One of his all-time favorites was a Latin zydeco band from California, Incendio. 

Drew long dreamed of playing on stage. He fulfilled that dream in 2018. It’s a stage I dreamt of playing as a kid and did for the first time in 2018

This Friday (July 2, 7:30 p.m.), Drew Angus is back. He’s joined by a 7-piece band, including Westport’s Russ Crain. They were fellow Class of 2007 Staples graduates.

They’ll play songs from Drew’s upcoming record, and familiar covers. It will be a special night for one of the Levitt’s favorite musicians — on both sides of the stage. (Click here for tickets, and more information.)

Drew Angus rocks.

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Work begins soon on the transformation of the old Barnes & Noble into a new grocery outlet — rumored to be Amazon Go. A construction trailer has moved into the parking lot.

Meanwhile, around the corner, work continues on the renovation of Greens Farms Congregational Church.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

Meanwhile, back near the former Barnes & Noble, there is no sign of action whatsoever at the abandoned Mobil Self-Serve. It closed nearly 3 years ago, and the site looks sorrier by the day.

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Last month’s Westport Fine Arts Festival was a cold washout.

Weston hopes for a better forecast for their own Fine Arts Festival. It’s July 17 and 18, on School Road.

The juried event includes over 100 artists working in painting, sculpture, jewelry, ceremics, wood and fine crafts, plus children’s activities, art demonstrations, musical guests and food trucks. Weston’s own Jose Feliciano performs live on Saturday.

Admission is free.

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Speaking of art: Sorelle Gallery’s next show is “Quiet Moments.” Works by contemporary coastal realist painter Daniel Pollera, and abstract artist Kelly Rossetti, are on display from July 10 through August 1.

A reception is set for July 10 (3 to 5 p.m.), in the Church Lane space. For more information, click here.

Works by Daniel Pollera and Kelly Rossetti.

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Yesterday’s “06880: The Podcast” upload featured Helen McAlinden. The CEO of Homes with Hope discussed homelessness and food insecurity in Fairfield County, with her well-known passion and trademark Irish brogue.

As it happens, she’s spending this week visiting relatives back home. She took time to send this photo of Westport — Westport, Ireland, that is.

Sure, and it brightens your day.

(Photo/Helen McAlinden)

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Speaking as we were of the water: Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is from this side of the pond. I have no idea if there are horseshoe crabs in Ireland.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … speaking of Westport, Ireland: Matt Molloy of the Chieftains owns a pub and music venue there. It’s on a road whose name we share here in Connecticut: Bridge Street.

Roundup: Bus Shelters, Cell Tower, Strawberry Moon …

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Westport has taken a big step toward adding more bus shelters.

Last night the Planning & Zoning Commission voted 5-0, with 1 abstention, on a text amendment. It adopts a definition for “bus shelters,” and exempts them from being considered a “structure.” That removes many obstacles from where they can be located.

Transportation and employment advocates have pushed for more bus shelters for years. Before last night bus shelters were deemed to be structures, and could not be located within the 30-foot setback along roads.

Thus, except for one shelter near Stop & Shop, bus riders on the Post Road must stand in all kinds of weather, on sidewalks or even the roadway.

Approval for new bus shelter locations will be made by the director of Public Works, in consultation with the Police and Fire Departments.

Among the people working for years for this change are members of the ad hoc Bus Shelter Working Group (Pippa Bell Ader, Harold Bailey, Ross Burkhardt, Ron Corwin, Jennifer Johnson, Melissa Kane and Larry Weisman), plus Peter Boyd of Sustainable Westport, and Planning & Zoning director Mary Young.

Click here for full details of the text amendment.

Waiting for the bus. (Photos courtesy of Planning & Zoning Commission Bus Shelter Working Group)

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Earlier this month, “06880” reported on a proposal to build a cell tower on private property at 92 Greens Farms Road.

An information session is set for Monday (June 28, 5:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium

To provide written comments before the session, email selectman@westportct.gov.

A cell tower been proposed for the property on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

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Though the Westport Country Playhouse will not host any live productions this summer, the famed theater is opening up for special events.

They include cabaret performances tomorrow (Saturday, June 26, 8 p.m., with Tonya Pinkins and Brad Simmons, and another cabaret July 24); an in-person screening of the virtual production “Tiny House” (Tuesday, June 29), and more. (Click here for details.)

Playhouse managing director Michael Barker filmed a “welcome back” video. Click below to enjoy.

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Longtime Westporter Herman Smith died June 17. He was 84

Herman lived in The Villages, Florida for nearly 20 years, but called Westport and Danbury home. He was the second of 4 generations of Westport residents, following his father who started a business in the 1940s.

Herman was educated in the Westport school system, from kindergarten through his graduation from Staples High School in 1955. He then attended the Engineering Institute of Bridgeport. He was also honorably discharged from the United States Air Force, and served in the National Guard.

Herman was in management at United Parcel Services, working in the South New England District for over 30 years. He retired in 1995.

Herman Smith

Herman was an original member of the Gents, and a long time member of the African American Club at The Villages. He enjoyed his time with the Frogs and Flakes, and the ROMEOs with his neighbors on Lawson Loop.

He was also a collector of baseball hats, an avid golfer and a world traveler.  He and his wife Mary Fran traveled  to over 25 countries, and visited all 7 continents.

His favorite spots and activities included his gardens in Westport, boating on Candlewood Lake, golfing at the Villages, watching the ocean at Daytona Beach Shores and making memories at Disney with his family.

He was predeceased by his parents, John Herman and Jane Smith, and sister, Jane “Patsy” Smith. Herman is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Mary Frances; children Mark of The Villages, Florida; Susan of New Haven, and Scott (Jane) of Westport, CT), and grandchildren Brandon, Jacob and Joshua.

Herman’s family will celebrate his legacy by establishing a scholarship in his name to advance the education and talents of promising youth. In lieu of flowers, they ask for contributions to that scholarship once it is established. Donations may also be made to another charity that fittingly honors Herman’s kind spirit, generous soul and full life.

A memorial service is planned for July 10 (11 a.m., Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services, The Villages, Florida). A celebration of Herman’s life will also be held in Connecticut in September.

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Last night’s Strawberry Moon was marred by a few clouds. But Daniel Johnson was one of many Westporters who gathered at Compo Beach. He captured this great shot:

(Photo/Daniel Johnson)

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Today in “Westport … Naturally”: Miggs Burroughs spotted this white deer in his Old Hill backyard. It (or a relative) has appeared once a year, for the past several years. Miggs writes:

“According to Native American legend, the appearance of an all-white deer signifies an abundant harvest. I must say, I have more weeds this year than ever.”

(Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

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And finally … in honor of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s vote last night that will lead to more (much-needed) bus shelters in Westport:

Roundup: Henry Wynne, Pops Concert, Teacher Of The Year …

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Ever since he was a Staples High School track star, Henry Wynne has been called an “Olympic hopeful.”

Now that the Olympics are near — they’re supposed to begin next month in Tokyo — how hopeful is the Class of 2013 grad?

Very. And that’s despite a litany of issues that dogged him as a University of Virginia star, and beyond. Since 2016 Wynne has suffered a knee injury, pneumonia, and surgery on his small intestine.

But Brooks Running signed him to a pro contract. And now — with the Olympic trials underway now through June 27 in Eugene, Oregon — Wynne is giving it his best shot.

Yesterday, Runner’s World magazine profiles one of Westport’s top athletes ever. Click here for the full story.

Henry Wynne (Photo/Will Hoffman for Runner’s World)

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Did you miss the Staples High School Pops Concert earlier this month? (No, you didn’t overlook it. Tickets were limited, due to COVID.)

Here’s a highlight reel, courtesy of Jim Honeycutt. Strike up the band!

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Speaking of education: Sure, the Westport Public Schools select a Teacher of the Year. But there’s something special about earning that honor from a different source: the Staples High School football team.

This spring, the Wreckers — used to be cheered for — turned the tables. They gave shout-outs to their favorite educators in a homemade video. At the end, they announced the winner.

Who is this year’s football team Staples Teacher of the Year? Click below to see:

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Another Staples tidbit: The Westport Garden Club has earned raves for their #FridayFlowers arrangements. Each week, there’s a different one somewhere in town.

This week’s was unveiled a day earlier. On Thursday evening, Class of 2021 graduates and their families saw this as they drove into Staples from North Avenue:

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Two more sings that Westport is getting “back to business.”

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce held its first in-person gathering in 20 months yesterday, at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center. Over 60 people gathered in the garden, in beautiful weather. They shook hands, ate food catered by Calise’s Deli, and — as they did for years before the pandemic — exchanged business cards.

Sal Gilbertie spoke about the 100 years since his grandfather began as a flower grower, then turned to herbs. Today Gilbertie’s is a major micro green seller, in addition to their nursery’s plants and trees.

Sal Gilbertie addresses the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

But the Chamber wasn’t the only major Westport organization holding its first live-and-in-person meeting yesterday.

Sunrise Rotary also gathered together, for the first time in over a year. Attendance was solid. Handshakes and hugs were heartfelt.

And for those unable or not yet ready to attend, the event was livestreamed.

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Enrollment is open for MoCA Westport’s summer courses, for toddlers through adults. Among the choices:

  • Summer Sunset Painting Series (High school and adult)
  • The World of Digital Art Animation (High school and adult)
  • The Art of Cinematography (High xchool and adult)
  • Intro To Digital Photography (High school and adult)
  • Skateboard Design (Middle school through adult)
  • Summer Saturday Art Workshops for Kids (PreK to grade 3)
  • Learn How To Code (Middle school through Adult)
  • Robotics (Middle school through adult)
  • Expressive Art for Toddler

For more details and to register, click here.

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Westport Country Playhouse has 4 new trustees. Three are from Westport: Jessica Caldwell, Will Haskell and Margie Jacobson.

Haskell — a state senator whose district includes Westport — has a long theatrical history. As a member of Staples High School’s Class of 2014, he was elected of Players, the drama troupe.  One of his first memories of live theater was seeing “Curious George” as a child, at the Playhouse’s old barn.

Caldwell graduated from Columbia University’s MFA film program. She produced independent feature films, while her feature film productions have premiered at Berlinale, SXSW and Tribeca. Her short film work has premiered at Sundance, Telluride, and Tribeca. Caldwell was also the writers’ room assistant and showrunners’ assistant on “Billions.” She is also a Moth storytelling contest GrandSlampion.

Jacobson is a nonprofit leader and attorney with legal experience spanning a variety of diverse settings. She is currently of counsel to a boutique law firm advocating for students’ rights from birth through post-secondary education, and co-founder of Woman’s Compass Forum. Jacobson previously served on the Playhouse board, from 2010 to 2016. She also serves on the boards of the ADL and the Remarkable Theater.

The WCP board of trustees is chaired by Westporter Ania Czekaj-Farber.

The Westport Library has 2 new trustees too.

Anna Alemani is CFO of Pierrepont School. Previously she had a 15-year career in finance. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Business Administration from Bocconi University in Milan, where she focused her studies on management of museums and cultural institutions.

Dave Briggs spent his career in television, as a sports and news reporter/anchor. He has moved from South Dakota and Oklahoma to Boston, where he covered Red Sox World Series championships, Patriots Super Bowl titles and a Celtics NBA crown. He also hosted “Fox & Friends Weekend,” and (for NBC) NHL, NASCAR, NFL and Olympic tennis, before anchoring “Early Start” on CNN. He currently interviews important Connecticut residents for Moffly Media content.

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We see a lot of old things at the transfer station.

Yesterday morning, it was a Model A Ford. Fortunately, it was running fine. The driver was there just to drop off some newer trash.

(Photo/Frank Rosen)

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The VFW is not just for men!

The other day, Y’s Women’s Trivia group met for their monthly luncheon. The VFW’s great chef, Joe Gallo, fed them well.

Other Y’s Women groups include Tuesday morning Compo Beach walkers, and one that meets in the evening to watch spectacular sunsets.

To learn more about the Y’s Women, email dynamicr@icloud.com.

Joe Gallo hosts the Y’s Women.

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July 4 is the publication date for not one but two Carl Addison Swanson books. The Westporter’s latest works are written “Venezuela Vengeance” and “Brotherly Hate.”

He’s CEO of Bermuda’s CAS Publications, which publishes 14 other writers, and  is a contributing editor at HBO. Click here for details.

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Seen this morning at Compo Beach: either the remnant of a Friday celebration for Staples High School’s graduation, or “saving a spot” for today:

(Photo/Michael Calise)

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Lauri Weiser calls this “Westport … Naturally” photo “Lurking in the Grasses”:

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … Juneteenth has been celebrated — in one form or another — for 155 years.

Today, for the first time, we honor it as a national holiday.

Amen.

This week, immediately after the bill was signed in the House of Representatives and sent to President Biden, the Congressional Black Caucus sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

It’s been called the “Black National Anthem.” But it’s a fitting anthem today for every American, of every color and background.

 

 

 

 

Roundup: Pops, Pride, Paw Prints …

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In many ways, yesterday was the first “normal” day in nearly 15 months.

Hundreds of people gathered at Jesup Green for a joyful Pride celebration. hundreds more swarmed Compo Beach, or took boats out on the Sound. At night, the Levitt Pavilion opened its gates for the Westport Schools’ annual Pops Concert.

The previous night’s show was moved by weather to the Staples High auditorium. But last night was as close to old times as anyone could hope for.

The crowd was limited to smaller numbers than usual. But everything else was the same: spectacular music, of near-professional quality. An appreciative, picnic-toting audience.

And, yes, pride and joy, in celebrating our kids, and our town, together again.

Last night at the Levitt Pavilion. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Candi Innaco conducts the band for the final time. She is retiring after 36 years as a music instructor. (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)

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Speaking of Staples: On Friday, the school held its first-ever LGBTQ Art Show.

Two dozen works of all kind were displayed prominently in the main hallway.

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Tim Lukens was enjoying yesterday’s weather, listening to music and quietly weeding his flower garden, when he came “literally 6 inches — nose to nose” — with the black bear wandering through Westport’s woods. This encounter was near Wilton Road, just north of Merritt Parkway Exit 41.

Here’s the aftermath:

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Barnes & Noble’s Westport store is internationally famous.

Well, at least it got a shoutout in the Financial Times.

A long profile on James Daunt — the Briton who rescued the small Waterstones book store chain from Amazon, and is attempting to do the same now for B&N — mentioned our local shop.

Daunt used the pandemic to rearrange layouts. Stores — including the newly opened one downtown — look less like “libraries”; round tables make them more browser-friendly. Click here for the full story. (Hat tips: Henry Engler, Jon Fraade)

Barnes & Noble Westport: now browser-friendly.

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If you’re like many Westport families, you’ve got a few basketballs lying around the house (or garage).

Staples High School sophomore (and player) Zach Brody wants them. He’s organized a collection for Full Court Peace, a non-profit that brings hoops and equipment to communities that need them.

Basketballs will be collected this coming week (June 7 to 14), in a bin in Staples’ main hallway.

Can’t make it to the high school? Email zbrody52@gmail.com to arrange for pickup.

 

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Speaking of sports: The Staples High School sailing team completed another successful season. The varsity had a 5-0 sweep at the Silver cup, and tied Greenwich for 3rd at the state regatta.

The Wreckers compete against other Fairfield County high schools, both private and public. Cedar Point is the host club, and provides the boats.

The Staples High School sailing team.

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While a Netflix movie is being filmed in Westport, the Country Playhouse parking lot has been rented to the production crew. It serves as a staging area, through June 16.

Most Winslow Park dog lovers realize it’s a private lot, and heed the signs and staff. Some, though, ignore them, and park anyway.

WCP general manager Beth Huisking says, “We love Westport, and want to be a valued member of the community. To be reciprocated with disrespect from some community members is disheartening.

“When we close the lot it is because we need the space (the hour or so before a performance), or because something is going on that requires us to use all spaces.

“In the case of the production crew, with large trucks and vans pulling through the lot, we want to make sure everyone (people, animals, even cars) are safe. So please, until June 16, park at the Winslow lot on Compo Road North. Thank you.”

One of the many trucks in the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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And finally … today is the 63rd anniversary of Prince’s birth. The singer-songwriter and producer died in 2016, at 57.

Roundup: RTM & Hiawatha, Sherwood Island, VFW …

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Start time for the Representative Town Meeting’s special June 8 (Tuesday) meeting to reconsider the Planning & Zoning’s adoption of a new zoning district that would enable a 157-unit development on Hiawatha Lane has been pushed ahead to 7 p.m.

However, the RTM will not address the petition until 7:30 p.m.

The meeting will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and shown on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. To attend by video, send an email to RTMcomments@westportct.gov; include your name and address, to receive participation details.

Emails may be sent before the meeting to RTMmailinglist@westportct.gov; this goes to all RTM members.

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It’s called “CT Trails Day.” But Friends of Sherwood Island are actually sponsoring two days — today and tomorrow — of activities at Connecticut’s first state park.

Today, there’s a Wonder of Flight Interactive Air Show (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), featuring radio-controlled model planes, helicopters, gliders and drones, followed by a Butterfly Walk with Michele Sorenson (2 p.m.; meet at the Nature Center).

Tomorrow (Sunday), Louis Petig leads a Nature Walk at 1 p.m. along the Sound. It begins at the Nature Center, and includes birding locations, the Connecticut 9/11 memorial, model aircraft airport, trailheads, wetlands and a pine forest.

Questions? contact Cece Saunders: cece@historicalperspective.org; 203-984-1488.

Sherwood Island — a state park in the heart of Westport’s shore. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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At last: There’s smooth sailing — well, driving — to the beach.

Just in time for this weekend’s 90-degree weather, Hillspoint Road has been repaved. Residents and beach-goers have been frustrated for weeks, after Aquarion’s work left the street rough and rutted.

Striping should begin next week, weather permitting.

RTM member Andrew Colabella credits teamwork with 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich, RTM colleague Chris Tait, Joey’s by the Shore owner Hal Kravitz and resident Robin Tauck for helping move the project along.

(Photo/Chris Tait)

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Speaking of Tauck: The upscale guided tour and cruise company — based now in Wilton, but for many years a Westport operation, where many family members still live — will resume tour and river cruise operations in Europe, Africa and central America, beginning this month.

Some North America tours have already begun. Click here for details.

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To celebrate National Garden Week, the Westport Garden Club decorated the 4 “bumpouts” on Main Street. The plantings also celebrate the club’s #FridayFlowers campaign.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)

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Two new merchants have joined the Pride parade.

Throughout June, Sweet P’s Bakery/The Porch @ Christie’s will donate 20% of the proceeds from Pride cookies, trays and packages to Westport Pride, our LGBTQ community organization.

Pam’s James is contributing 10% of the sales of Pride Trio jams.

Click here for a full list of vendors participating in this summer’s “Merchants of Pride” program.

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A limited audience saw Staples High’s first live musical performance of the school year last night.

Thunderstorms moved the first of 2 Pops Concerts was moved from the Levitt Pavilion to the auditorium. After a year of COVID, that hardly mattered.

A variety of choruses, orchestras and the freshman band entertained the socially distanced — but very grateful — crowd. Despite the masks, it was a sure sign that the district’s superb staff had shepherded through a very difficult year.

And that music makes us all truly alive.

The 2nd night of the Pops Concert — with other groups — is scheduled for tonight. All tickets have already been distributed.

Luke Rosenberg directs the Anima Cantorum.

Staples High School music instructors (from left): Luke Rosenberg, Candida Inanaco, Phil Giampietro, Carrie Mascaro, Jeri Muehleise. Innaco retires this year, after 36 years of teaching. (Photos/Dan Woog)

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The Artists’ Collective celebrates Westport’s return to actual, live activities with 2 big events.

A pop-up art show opens in the Westport Country Playhouse barn June 12. It runs from 2 to 6 p.m. every day, through June 19. An artist’s talk on closing day begins at 4 p.m.

Participating artists include local favorites Lucienne Buckner, Miggs Burroughs, Elizabeth DeVoll, Charles Douthat, Susan Fehlinger, Noah Fox, Jen Greely, Toby Michaels, Nancy Moore, Mary Ann Neilson, Melissa Newman, Diane Pollack, Ellen Schiffman and Jahmane West.

The Collective’s very popular trunk show returns in the Westport Library’s lower parking lot: July 11 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

What is the Artists’ Collective of Westport? Click below to learn more.

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The return to indoor events came too late for the Westport Country Playhouse to stage its full summer productions.

But the venerable theater welcomes a series of special events, to support next year’s full reopening.

“Cabaret in the Robards” is 3 evenings of shows featuring Broadway talent, with music, song and comedy.

The first one — June 26 — is “An Evening with Brad Simmons and Tonya Pinkins.” She’s a Tony-winning Broadway veteran; he’s a famed music director and concert artist. They’ll combine for show favorites, contemporary covers, classics and more.

Click here for tickets and more information.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features horseshoe crabs. They’re back. I am told that prime time — figuring in the tide, moon, mating season and more — is June 24.

(Photo/Gene Borio)

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And finally … today, Westport celebrates Pride Day, with a 10 a.m. to noon festival at Jesup Green. Hit it, Diana!