Category Archives: Westport life

Tim Harman’s Milestone

In these polarized days, there is little that Westporters agree on.

From national issues like reproductive rights and our leaders, to local ones like the Cribari Bridge and affordable housing, battle lines have hardened.

But there is one thing all “06880” readers know: We love Tim Harman.

You’ve seen him — always smiling — bagging groceries at Stop & Shop.

Tim recently celebrated 30 years an an employee there. He started as part of Staples High School’s work/study program. For 3 decades, he’s been one of the supermarket’s most loyal employees. 

Tim’s sister-in-law Karen writes proudly about other parts of Tim’s life:

In addition to Stop & Shop, Tim — who is now 51 — works at the wonderful Prospector Theater In Ridgefield. Its mission is to  offer work opportunities to residents with special needs.

Tim Harman, working at the Prospector Theater …

Tim is also a longtime member of Our Vision. The organization’s mission is to enrich the lives for persons with disabilities by providing social, cultural and recreational activities which foster enduring friendships, and expand their potential through teamwork and training in Special Olympics.

But Tim’s greatest gifts are his infectious smile, and that he knows almost everyone in town —  from everyday shoppers to teachers and coaches, and the town firefighters who come in almost  daily.

In fact, he is an honorary firefighter, riding in the fire truck every Memorial Day parade.

… riding in the Memorial Day parade …

Every new customer is a new friend. The next time you meet him, he will remember your name. You can’t go anywhere without him knowing somebody.  Some refer to him as the unofficial Ambassador of Westport.

Tim is a life-long Westporter. He attended Westport schools as a special education student, all the way, from Coleytown Elementary and Middle Schools, through Staples High. Tim was a member of the Wreckers swim team, and a manager for the baseball team.

His sports talent is evident at annual Connecticut Special Olympics competitions. He has run, swum, and even tried shot putting this year.

He’s pretty good. He has won close to 100 medals over the past 45 years ,including 3 last month. Tim doesn’t even count his  ribbons.

… starring at Special Olympics …

Ask him about his favorite teams. He is a long-suffering fan of the Mets, Knicks and  Giants. He can tell you the scores of each team’s games the next day.

Tim’s parents, Gail and Jim Harman, moved to Westport in 1963. Gail spent many years as a paraprofessional at Staples. Jim is well known as the proprietor of the garage next to The Porch @ Christe’s. Tim’s brother Jim lives locally, while his sister Liz  calls New York City home. Both went through Westport schools, as did Tim’s niece Chase Harman Burke and nephew Andrew Harman.

Tim is a proud and loving uncle to 6 adults, and grand-uncle to 7 little ones.

… and with a great-nephew.

Congratulations, Tim, on your 30 years at Stop & Shop. And thank
you for making Westport a better place, every day!

(“06880” relies completely on reader support. Please click here to contribute.)

Tim Harman (bottom row, center) with his family.

 

A Need-To-Know Basis: The Basics

A reader writes:

My wife and I just bought a home in Westport. We will move there in September.

As a soon-to-be resident, reading “06880” has helped me get to know the town. For example, I already know that everyone on the railroad parking wait list will soon get a pass.

But what else should I know?

I’m looking for a quick crash course about the town. It could be anything from “avoid this road during these hours” to “this parking lot always has spaces” to “what do I need to know about Compo Beach.”

I realize you could write hundreds of tips. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Great idea!

You’re right. I could give hundreds (if not squintillions). Here are a few quick ones, in random order:

You need a ticket for the 4th of July fireworks at Compo Beach. (Which in Westport are never actually on the 4th. This year, they’re June 30th.) Westport PAL puts them on, with help from Melissa & Doug (the innovative toy company). Tickets are available at Parks & Rec headquarters (in Longshore, near the 1st tee) and police headquarters (Jesup Road). The $40/vehicle ticket supports a huge variety of PAL programs — so even if you watch the fireworks elsewhere, or don’t park at the beach, consider donating to PAL.

If everyone cooperates, getting into the beach for the fireworks goes smoothly.

Speaking of which: Unfortunately, Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department website is the least user-friendly I’ve seen since dial-up modem days. From the non-intuitive way to sign up for hand passes (for tennis, golf, Longshore pool, etc.), beach emblems (we actually call them “stickers”) and boat launch permits — hint: click on “Memberships” — to the random, dizzying list of options in every category, on through all the clicks needed to jump from page to page and back again, it’s a cluster****.

The good news is: If you’re free when the office is open, head there yourself. (As noted above, it’s in Longshore, near the golf course 1st tee.) The employees are fantastic: knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and fun.

The bad news is: I can’t tell you when the office is open. It’s nowhere on the website — at least, nowhere I could find.

The Parks & Rec Department office, at Longshore. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Speaking of the beach: The best sunsets for miles around are at Compo’s South Beach. That’s the area from the cannons to the kayak launch. There’s often a convivial crowd — perhaps because that’s the only area on a Westport beach where alcohol is permitted. (No glass, please!)

South Beach is also where, on a beautiful evening, every grill might be taken. Tables are first-come, first-served. Despite that notice on every table, some people “reserve” them by leaving blankets, chairs, even coolers all around, then leaving the beach for the next few hours.

You are perfectly within your rights to take that table. However, I am not responsible for whatever happens next. I’m just sayin’….

This does not reserve you a South Beach table.

A few other tips: The town dump is called the “transfer station.” On the Sherwood Island Connector, it’s  where you toss household garbage, furniture, carpeting, lamps, televisions, electronics, batteries and similar items. Much of it is recycled. Workers there are very helpful and friendly. On Saturday mornings especially, it’s a great place to meet other Westporters.

The best shortcut in town that does not involve annoying other residents is the Merritt Parkway between Exits 41 and 42. You get from the YMCA/Wilton area to Coleytown/Weston without circling through Wilton Road, North Kings Highway and Main Street. Even when the Merritt traffic creeps along, it’s usually quicker.

The Imperial Avenue parking lot is underrated – not only for events at the Levitt Pavilion, but even for downtown. The pedestrian bridge connecting it to the Levitt and Library is easy and gorgeous — and the lot is nearly always empty.

Deadman Brook bridge, between the Levitt Pavilion and Imperial Avenue (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

You will see the Remarkable Bookcycle parked somewhere around town: the beach perhaps, or Bedford Square or the Westport Book Shop on Jesup Road. The concept is cool — take a book, give a book — but there’s a back story. It’s decorated with the “dancing man” logo of the Remarkable Book Shop, a beloved (and long-gone) Main Street institution. Fun fact: The Bookcycle is the brainchild of Jane Green. Yes, that Jane Green. The internationally known author is a fellow Westporter.

(Photo/Judith Shaw)

Those are just a few top-of-the-head ideas. I am sure every “06880” reader — at least, those who have been here more than 10 minutes — can add his or her own.

So, let’s do it. Click “Comments” below to pass along info that every newcomer needs to know. Along with this last one:

You don’t need to buy milk and eggs every time snow is predicted. But do pay attention to rain and wind advisories.

There’s not a lot that’s certain in Westport, but this much is: You will lose power.

Often.

Welcome to Westport!

A Proud Day For Westport

The rain that chased Westport’s 2nd annual Pride festival from Jesup Green to Staples High School never materialized. So there were no rainbows in the sky above the courtyard.

But nearby, in the auditorium foyer, hundreds of rainbows were on display. Buttons, artwork, t-shirts, bagels  — rainbows were everywhere.

The rainbow arch was a popular spot for photos.

And a rainbow constellation of Westporters — parents, grandparents, couples without children, 20somethings, clergy members, musicians, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, and scores of kids of all ages — smiled, applauded and hugged all afternoon long.

A small part of the large Pride crowd. (Photo/Dan Woog)

From the opening remarks by 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker — who said that the sponsors, Westport Pride, have made Westport “a better community” — to heartfelt stories from people like former Staples principal John Dodig, former tennis captain Luke Foreman, current students and Amis/Terrain executive chef Jes Bengtson, to entertainment by very talented teens,  and on through closing blessings by Temple Israel cantor Julia Cadrain, it was a day to celebrate inclusivity in our schools and community.

Luke Foreman describes his journey. (Photo/Marjorie Almansi)

The event drew nearly 1,000 members of the LGBTQ+ community, and many allies. They had — in both senses of the word — a very gay time.

Who doesn’t like rainbow bagels? (Photo/Dan Woog)

Staples Class of 2021 graduate Benny Zack returned for the event. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Former Bedford Middle School teacher Kerstin Rao, and Dr. Nikki Gorman. The pediatrician, and owner of Westport Medical & Wellness Center, was a featured speaker. (Photo/Bethany Eppner)

Rainbows were everywhere at Westport Pride. Kids’ activities included arts and crafts and face painting. (Photo/Bethany Eppner)

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, with an official town proclamation. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Former Staples High principal John Dodig inspired listeners with his story. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Westport RTM member Harris Falk dressed for the occasion … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… as did Rev. John Betit of Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… while former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe sported an appropriate tie. (Photo/Dan Woog)

State Representative Stephanie Thomas lent her support. She’s running for Secretary of the State. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Westport Pride founder and festival co-organizer Brian McGunagle introduced his 3-year-old son Henry to the crowd. They loved him.  (Photo/Dan Woog)

Love is love. (Photo/Marjorie Almansi)

[OPINION] Clean Up Our Minute Man!

Like many longtime Westporters, Mike Elliot loves the Minute Man. Like the Compo cannons and Veterans Green doughboy, it is a Westport landmark.

However, the 1972 Staples High School graduate writes:

“The grassy area surrounding the stature always look like crap. It is impossible to mow, weeds always overtake it, and frankly it looks awful.

Westport Garden Club flowers temporarily hid the base of the Minute Man monument.

“It needs to be redone — but with a no-maintenance solution.

“My backyard patio has 4 inches of reinforced concrete, with 2 inches of blue stone. It will never have weeds. It always looks presentable.

“The Minute Man doesn’t need that kind of sub base. But if we held a fundraiser to redo the base with a concrete structure and inlay pavers, or cannon balls or some architecturally pleasing finish, it would always look clean and presentable. It would always remain our most iconic landmark.”

Mike has planted a great seed of an idea. Is there any interest in  helping it grow? Click “Comments” below.

Another view.

Westport Pride: New Venue (Staples) For Sunday Celebration

It may rain on Sunday. But that won’t dampen Westport’s 2nd annual Pride celebration.

The event — with music, vendors and more — has been moved to the Staples High School auditorium (1 to 3 p.m.). All members of the LGBTQ+ community — and all allies and friends — are invited.

Musicians, speakers, clergy and political leaders will all be there. 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker will issue a “June Pride Month” proclamation.

Also on tap: children’s art activities, face painting, hair and makeup, pride merchandise, swag and educational materials. The event is sponsored by Westport Pride.

Performers include Colin Konstanty and Mark Aguirre, Sarah Ferro, Jamie Mann, Ellery Bodell, Madelyn Spera, Vivian and Willa Shamie, Ellie Desautels with Denver Razzi and Camille Blundell, and Julie Lloyd.

Speakers include Will Haskell, John Dodig, Dan Woog, Kayla Iannetta, Pride Coalition students, Dr. Nikki Gorman, Jess Bengtson, Luke Foreman, Cantor Julia Cadrain, and MC Brian McGunagle.

Showing the flag at last year’s Westport Pride celebration. (Photo/Kerry Long)

July 4th Fireworks Return — On June 30!

It’s been waaaay too long.

After a 2-year COVID-induced absence, Westport’s Independence Day fireworks — the biggest, best party in town — are back.

They’re a bit before the big day, though: June 30. That’s a Thursday. It’s a great way to blast off the holiday weekend. (July 4th is the following Monday.)

The event is a fundraiser for the Westport Police Athletic League. It’s run by our Parks & Recreation Department, with great help from the Westport Police and Fire Departments, and Emergency Medical Services.

The 2019 fireworks — the last time Westporters enjoyed the show. (Photo/David Squires)

Long time Westport residents Melissa and Doug Bernstein will once again sponsor and underwrite the fireworks. They say, “We’re beyond thrilled to partner again with PAL  to bring this amazing celebration back to Westport. We can’t wait to see our incredible community celebrating together again at Compo Beach on June 30th!”

If you’ve been to the fireworks, you know what’s in store: thousands of people picnicking at Compo, and strolling from Soundview to South Beach; music, a marching band, and a “block party” with a great, neighborly vibe.

In a few hours, all those chairs will be filled with people. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

If you’ve never been: Be sure to get a ticket. That’s the only way to park at Compo.

Ticket sales begin tomorrow (Friday, June 3, at Police headquarters (50 Jesup Road) and the Parks & Rec office at Longshore (near the 1st tee). The cost is $40 per vehicle.

Tickets are limited, and first-come, first-served. When they sell out, shuttle passes will be available from Longshore.

Westport PAL president Craig Bergamo (2nd from left) presents fireworks ticket #1 to Doug and Melissa Bernstein. Also shown (from left): Police Chief Foti Koskinas, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Parks & Recreation director Jennifer Fava, Deputy Police Chief Sam Arciola.

Pic Of The Day #1869 — And Video Of The Day #1

The doughboy statue on Veterans Green (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

BONUS FEATURE: Nick Pisarro, Jr. filmed the entire Memorial Day parade — and then edited it down to a minute. It’s followed by Staples High School graduate Nick Rossi singing the national anthem.

Whether you missed the parade, or want to relive it again — click below.

Memorial Day 2022 — Gallery #3

Today’s Memorial Day parade route wound from Riverside Avenue and the Post Road to Myrtle Avenue. It ended by Town Hall, with an important ceremony of remembrance.

Here is “06880”‘s third set of photos, from Myrtle and  Veterans Green.

The Carpenters’ house on Myrtle Avenue evokes the Memorial Day spirit. (Photo/Dan Woog)

A proud veteran. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Tim Harmon has a ringside seat. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Once again, the Y’s Men’s float won “Best Overall.” It saluted Francis Scott Key, and the “Star-Spangled Banner.” (photo/Dan Woog)

After years of marching, former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe enjoys the parade from the sidelines — with his grandson. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Police Chief Foti Koskinas (right) and Deputy Chief Sam Arciola flank honorary police officer Dylan Curran. (Photo/Dan Woog)

A large flag earns a spot of honor. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Staples High School percussionist Witt Lindau. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Grand marshal Jean Wells turns 105 years young today. The crowd serenaded her with “Happy Birthday.” (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

World War II veteran Ted Diamond is 105 on July 3. He was only the 2nd oldest servicemember at the parade. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Leonard Everett Fisher will be 98 next month. He was the 3rd oldest World War II veteran today. Like Ted Diamond, he still fits into his uniform. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Bill Vornkahl has organized and run Westport’s Memorial Day celebration for 5 decades. He is truly “Mr. Parade.” (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

The Staples High School Band performs a medley of armed forces songs. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The Honor Guard includes members of several different wars. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Athena Ploumis Bradley and her husband arrived too late for the ceremony. But her patriotic look summed up the day. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Memorial Day 2022 — Gallery #2

Here’s the second batch of photos from today’s great parade.

A third set — including the very moving ceremony on Veterans Green — will come in a few hours. Right now, I’m heading to one of the many parties in town. I’m off the clock!

A bird’s-eye view of the 2022 Memorial Day parade. (Drone photo/Charlie Scott)

No, this truck was not part of the parade. Minutes before the start, it stalled on Riverside Avenue. The parade kicked off right on time, though. (Photo/Frank Rosen)

Whether the Sunrise Rotary Club asked for a color-coordinated vehicle to advertise their upcoming Duck Race is unclear. But it sure looks cool. (Photo/Mark Mathias)]

The Bedford and Coleytown Middle School bands marched together. They sounded great! (Photo/Janette Kinnally)

Cub Scouts hold a giant flag, as they round Riverside Avenue onto the Post Road. (Photo/Swapna Podlich)

For as long as this car has been around, youth sports teams have been part of Westport’s Memorial Day parade. (Photo/Eric Roth)

Ava Bierman enoys the parade with her dad, Bryan.

Seeing this crowd watching from above Capuli restaurant reminded Russell Sherman of his days as a kid here. Youngsters watched from atop buildings on the Post Road and — when the route went another way — Main Street. (Photo/Russell Sherman)

 

The RTM is supposed to announce all upcoming meetings. So this may have been illegal. But it sure was fun. Other RTM members marched with the Suzuki Band; League of Women Voters; Rotary Clubs; soccer, baseball and lacrosse teams — and probably others. (Photo/Will Haskell)

Play ball! (Photo/Keri Stedman)

The ballot measure promoted by the League of Women Voters would permit early voting in Connecticut. (Photo/Pam Washburn)

The end of a long parade. (Photo/Shobana Mari)

Memorial Day 2022 — Gallery #1

It may have been Westport’s best Memorial Day parade ever.

The weather was perfect. The number of kids marching (and riding) was astonishing. After 2 years of COVID, the feeling of joyful community was palpable

The Veterans Green ceremony was especially meaningful this year. The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to grand marshal Jean Wells: 105 years old today!

Here’s the first batch of photos, from “06880” readers. Stay tuned for more!

Heading across the bridge toward the parade start, at Saugatuck Elementary School. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

It doesn’t get more American than a red fire truck. (Photo/Todd Freeman)

I’m sure this drummer knows who he is. (Photo/Diane Yormark)

A hearty Memorial Day high five. (Photo/John Suggs)

This year’s them was “Women Who Served.” Priscilla Long honors them. (Photo/Alison JB Patton)

Meanwhile, the League of Women Voters was led by 2 men. (Photo/John Suggs)

Ben Kiev pushed Andy Berman the entire way, for myTeamTriumph. The non-profit helps people with disabilities run road races. (Photo/Johanna Kiev)

The Y’s Men’s won this year’s float contest — again. Have they ever lost? (Photo/Page Englehart)

Scott Broder with Eduardo. from Blinding Eyes for the Blind of Mt. Kisco — the newest family member.

Memorial Day parade judges: Diane Heisinger, Betty Lou Cummings, Mary Ann Lindwall, Ruth Whelan. The parade theme was “Women Who Served” — and all 4 judges are female.

Westport veterans. We give thanks to all who served. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)