Pic Of The Day #937

Autumn stroll behind the Levitt Pavilion (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Photo Challenge #254

Last week’s Photo Challenge showed a spot not far from downtown that most Westporters have never gone.

Though it’s a place everyone should see.

Sandy Rothernberg’s image was of the point at the Riverwalk path behind the Levitt Pavilion where Deadman Brook flows into the Saugatuck River.

It’s beautiful, serene — and open to the public. You’ll get a different perspective there of the water, and our town’s relation to it.

Since the Levitt renovation, the path now winds all the way around — from the library to the Imperial parking lot side. Midway there, you’ll see the scene Sandy captured. Or click here for the closeup.

This one was tough. It took nearly 24 hours before the first readers guessed correctly. Congratulations, Madison Malin and Steve Dopp!

This week’s Photo Challenge, meanwhile, may be our first-ever nighttime shot. If you know where in Westport you’d find this — night, day, whenever — click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Johanna Rossi)

Catch A Lift Veterans Honor Westport

Nearly 250 years ago Westport patriots battled British soldiers, on their way to and from burning an arsenal in Danbury.

On Friday, more than a dozen military veterans — wounded in wars since 9/11 — came to Westport. They were honored at a Birchwood Country Club fundraiser for Catch a Lift, the foundation that helps them rebuild their lives through physical fitness.

Yesterday they returned the favor. Many of the vets headed to Compo Beach. They served as “angels” — helping children, teens and adults with disabilities in a fun run/walk, through another great organization called myTeamTriumph.

It was a win-win-win weekend: for the veterans, the myTeamTriumph runners and walkers, and the rest of Westport. We are inspired by them all.

When yesterday’s event was over, the Catch a Lift gathered for a “team” photo.

At the cannons, of course.

Madelyn Spera And The Bitter End

The Bitter End calls itself “the oldest rock and roll club in New York City.” Since 1961, the classic red brick stage in the heart of Greenwich Village has hosted Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, Jackson Browne, Neil Diamond, Gavin DeGraw, Woody Allen, Jon Stewart, Randy Newman, Billy Crystal, Tommy James, Norah Jones, Donny Hathaway, Curtis Mayfield and thousands more.

Including Madelyn Spera.

The Westporter has already played there twice, during Saturday open mic sessions. The first was last year, as a Bedford Middle School 8th grader. Now a Staples High School freshman, she performed again last month. It was a fundraiser to support music and art in underfunded schools.

Surrounded by School of Rock-type bands, Madelyn stood out as an acoustic guitarist. She also plays piano.

Madelyn Spera at the Bitter End.

Madelyn’s route to the Bitter End began in Westport. She started playing at Sweet Frog — the now-shuttered frozen yogurt shop next to Fresh Market.

Her repertoire includes ’80s pop songs, and originals. She wrote one of those songs — “Underneath It All” — about an issue she cares deeply about: positive body image.

Before she headed to the Bitter End, Madelyn knew little about the iconic club. But she looked it up online.

She learned that her idol Taylor Swift had played there. That was good enough for Madelyn.

The first time, she was nervous. But one of her songs made an audience member cry. She knew she belonged.

Bitter End bookers agreed. Madelyn will play there again, in late winter.

Taylor Swift, eat your heart out.

(Can’t wait until then to see Madelyn Spera? She’s part of the Bjorn ensemble in Staples Players’ upcoming production of “Mamma Mia!” Click here for information.)

Pic Of The Day #936

Moon over the Cribari Bridge, earlier tonight (Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

Remembering Angela Trucks

Longtime resident Angela Trucks died last weekend. She was 69.

Her mark on Westport through beautification efforts is visible — literally — everywhere we look.

The Long Island native was a teacher, restaurant owner, and a village trustee. She was also one of the first female regional sales managers for Del Monte Foods. 

Angela is survived by her husband William; her daughters Leigh Lutenski and Emma Trucks; their spouses Mark Lutenski and Jordan Padnuk, and her grandchildren Leonardo and Benjamin Lutenski, and Josephine Padnuk. Linda Adelman offers this tribute:

Angela Trucks was a force of energy to be reckoned with. She was artistic, curious, passionate and tenacious in her efforts to promote beauty. She loved Westport, and Westport benefited from her perseverance.

Angela Trucks

For well over a decade, as co-chair with Nancy Carr of the Westport Beautification Committee, Angela — a master gardener — conceived of and completed projects that improved the appearance of public spaces and promoted pride in our community. She maneuvered through bureaucracy, sought funding and donations, fostered consensus, and tackled physical work if needed.

The Re-Greening of the Post Road was a major 3-year project to improve the visual appeal of the Post Road between the Fairfield and Norwalk borders, and the median between Roseville Road and the Sherwood Island Connector.

Undaunted by state Department of Transportation red tape, town bureaucracy, business owners’ concerns, a shortage of funding or anything else, Angela resourcefully found ways to ensure that 90 trees were planted and cared for.

Angela encouraged business owners to take pride in their property, publicly recognizing the most outstanding “streetscapes” at an annual awards ceremony in Town Hall.

She envisioned gardens of perennials on the corners of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, and made them happen.

Every spring, she guided the committee as they organized and oversaw the participation of local businesses in the planting of flowers and shrubs on traffic rotaries. They were called “Adopt-A-Spots,” and Angela was relentless in her effort to reduce the number of illegal signs littering those islands.

In the early years of her tenure, Angela delegated committee members to cut evergreens wherever they could find them to use as holiday decorations in baskets on light poles along Main Street. She never hesitated to climb a ladder to “plant” those baskets.

Angela Trucks, hanging a basket on Main Street.

Angela Trucks was warm, generous of spirit and full of life. She was an inspiration, a beloved leader and friend. She worked without fanfare, but had a lasting impact on Westport’s public landscape.

Angela’s death has left a hole in our hearts. She is a hero who will be greatly missed by many.

(In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Norwalk Hospital, in recognition of the caring and dedicated nursing staff.)

Larry Silver Celebrates Leonardo Da Vinci

It’s been 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci. Museums all over the world are celebrating the life and death of the remarkable inventor/artist/ architect — the literal embodiment of a Renaissance man.

Leonardo da Vinci

In the 16th century, a plague killed nearly a third of Milan’s population.  In its aftermath da Vinci designed a city with greater communications, water, services and sanitation — all to prevent future spreads of the plague.

Unfortunately, the city was never built.

Half a millennium later, photographers from around the world were invited to submit images that show da Vinci’s influence, as seen in today’s world.

A thousand entries were submitted. Only 30 were chosen.

One was from Westport’s own Larry Silver. His image — taken in the Florida Everglades in 2001 — will be exhibited at the Trieste Photo Festival, and published in a companion book by Trieste’s Revoltella Museum.

But you don’t have to travel all the way to Italy to see Larry’s work. An exhibit of his remarkable photos is set for the Westport Library. It opens December 7, and runs through February 13.

There’s a reception on Friday, December 13 (6 p.m., Sheffer Room Gallery). And an artist’s talk with Miggs Burroughs at the library on January 23 (6 p.m.).

Florida Everglades, 2001 (Photo copyright/Larry Silver)

Pic Of The Day #935

Downtown: The view from Ludlow Road (Photo/Chip Stephens)

Friday Flashback #167

If you think the back entrances to Main Street stores — the ones on Parker Harding Plaza — look bad today, be glad you were not around in the mid-1950s.

Before the parking lot was built, the Saugatuck River lapped up against those stores.

The landfill changed downtown — and the river. It must have been quite a project. Jim Ezzes shares some photos of the construction.

The Westport Hardware building at the far left is the current site of The Gap.

A bit further south.

Paul and Mary Kowalsky — whose construction company created Parker Harding Plaza — stand next to an earth mover.

Catch A Lift, MyTeamTriumph Join Forces Tomorrow. Everyone Wins!

For 5 years, Westport has hosted Catch a Lift fundraisers.

Yet the attendees — wounded post-9/11 service members, who heal physically and mentally thanks to the gym memberships and home fitness equipment the organization provides — give at least as much to Westport, in terms of inspiration and motivation, as they get.

Now they’re going to give even more.

Tonight (Friday, November 8, 7 p.m., Birchwood Country Club) is the CAL gala. There’s great food, beverages, a DJ, video, and more than a dozen Catch a Lift guests of honor.

Catch a Lift veterans, at a Birchwood Country Club event.

Tomorrow (Saturday, November 9, 8:30 a.m.), those same men and women head to Compo Beach.

The combat veterans — all suffering from serious PTSD, some who are double amputees — along with their friends and family members, will push disabled athletes in myTeamTriumph. The event is a fun run, of about 2 miles.

MTT is a program for children, teens and adults with disabilities who otherwise could not participate in endurance events like triathlons and road races. Volunteers “ride along,” helping them compete in — and enjoy — those endeavors.

Over the years, Catch a Lift and myTeamTriumph have formed a special bond.

Adam Vengrow — a Westporter, and vice president of the CAL board of directors — has worked closely with mTT board member Andy Berman. Combining their efforts, Vengrow says, demonstrates the power of volunteerism and collaboration.

Andy Berman (left) and Austin enjoy a myTeamTriumph event.

Curt Lueker — another Westporter, who is founder and president of myTeamTriumph — calls the partnership “a unique match.”

Tomorrow’s event is open to anyone who wants to or walk. Click here to sign up.

We welcome our Catch a Lift guests to Westport. And we are awed by what they give us when they’re here.

PS: Last weekend, Berman finished the New York City marathon. For him, this run will be a walk in the park.