Loving Compo

Love was in the air — and on the sand and the boardwalk — yesterday at Compo.

Alert “06880” photographer Lynn U. Miller was there to capture it, in all its many-splendored forms.

(Photos/Lynn U. Miller)

All That Confusion Between Bravo And Rio Bravo Is Over

First came Bravo. The Italian restaurant replaced V, in the Post Road strip mall near Balducci’s.

Then came Rio Bravo 2 doors down, a Mexican restaurant with absolutely no connection to Bravo — other than the name.

Bravo did not last long. Inefficient service may have had something to do with its demise.

Now Julian’s has opened up in the old Bravo space. It’s the 3rd location for the brick oven pizza place. There’s one in Monroe, and another in Saugatuck.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

So now, instead of saying “Do you mean Bravo the Italian restaurant, or Rio Bravo the Mexican one?” you can say: “Is that the Julian’s on Riverside Avenue, or the one on the Post Road?”

Dragon Needs A Home

Thousands of Maker Faire-goers admired the dragon standing outside the library on Saturday.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

But now it’s Monday. The event is over. This is not the New York Public Library. Unlike its 2 famous lions, our dragon can’t stay here forever.

If you want the dragon — for whatever reason; no questions asked — contact Alex Giannini, the Westport Library’s manager of experiential learning (agiannini@westportlibrary.org; 203-291-4847).

You can’t beat the price: free. The library may even help you transport it.

PS: The New York lions are named “Patience” and “Fortitude.”

Our dragon should be called “Cool.”

Ron Malone Escapes House Fire

Former Westport police chief and RTM member Ron Malone was treated for smoke inhalation, after a fire at his Cross Highway home this morning.

The blaze began around 6:10 a.m., in the kitchen. Firefighters and police responded very quickly. They made sure Malone and 2 dogs were safe.

According to reports, Malone lived part-time at the property, which he inherited from an uncle.

Ron Malone’s house, after the fire. (Photo/Mark Yurkiw)

Boxers, Bowties And Millennial Philanthropy

With many of his classmates and friends, 2003 Weston High School graduate Andy Porter spent the last few years flying all over the country for bachelor parties and weddings.

He and his buddies had a great time. But they also realized it would end. Soon, they’d focus full-time on families and careers.

How, they wondered, could they stay close over the next 20 to 40 years?

Porter and his pals know full well how lucky they were to have grown up in Fairfield County. (His roots here are deep: His grandmother — an architect — designed all the houses on Porters Lane, off Bayberry; his father was a 1967 Staples High School grad.)

Two years ago, they made a decision: They’d get together every year, to volunteer and raise money for a good cause.

The group of 9 put their professional talents to work. The accountant and finance men handled the money. The lawyer got 501(c)(3) status.

The marketers came up with the name — Boxer Bowtie Club — and the catchphrase: “Gather. Give. Grow.”

Then they went to work.

They chose the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp as their first beneficiary. Growing up near its Westport headquarters, the Boxer Bowtie members knew the amazing work it does, providing fun and friendship for seriously ill kids (and their families).

Their initial event was a black-tie cruise around Manhattan. 250 people showed up — and raised $75,000.

The Boxer Bowtie Club was not messing around.

Last year, they repeated the cruise. This time a crowd of 450 contributed $100,000.

The Boxer Bowtie Club on a Manhattan fundraising crew. Lady Liberty is in the background; a boxer is in front.

But the guys — who by now number 20 — are not satisfied with one activity a year. Each member is asked to volunteer at least 5 times a year.

Not all of those efforts are connected to the club. But some are — and they’ve spread beyond the tri-state area.

On May 6, Boxer Bowtie guys will travel from all over the country to Dallas. They’ll raise funds for Education Opens Doors, helping at-risk students navigate the college process.

Their 3rd annual New York gala is set for the fall. The original 10-year goal — to send 40 kids to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp — was accomplished in just 2. Members will decide soon which camp project or need to tackle next.

The Boxer Bowtie Club, after helping out at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Andy Porter is at far right. Others (from left): Brooks Foley, Matt Silver, Brett Reis, Kale Butcher, Luke Dudley, Adam Luchansky.

“All of our roots are in Fairfield County,” Porter notes. “We were so fortunate to have had parents, teachers, coaches and resources to help us. So we’ll always have some projects with ties to the area.”

As you read this story, you may be thinking of Go50. That’s the Westport group — profiled recently on “06880” — of local men, ages 50 and up, who dedicate time, energy and money to great causes. They’ve done quite a bit, by coincidence, for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

Porter saw that story, and realized that despite the age differences, there were lots of similarities between the 2 groups. He hopes the millennial Boxer Bowtie Club and baby boomer Go50s can at some point partner — and have fun — together.

The Boxer Bowtie Club (above, at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp) hopes to work with another group that helps that Westport-based organization: Go50.

Of course, the Go50 men have already sent their children off to college. Many of the Boxer Bowtie guys don’t even have kids yet. But — after all those bachelor parties and weddings — they’re on the way.

Porter says that’s one more reason the Boxer Bowtie Club is important. “We hope we’re developing a new generation of philanthropists. We want to do that now, not later. And it’s something we can model, to pass on to our kids.”

So what about that “Boxer Bowtie” name?

“We’re all very loyal — to each other, our communities, and people in need,” Porter explains.

“Dogs are loyal too. We all had dogs growing up. And boxers are some of the most loyal dogs of all.”

As for bowties: At every annual fundraiser, one of their sponsors — David Fin neckwear — hands out bowties, with boxers on them.

It’s fun. It’s informal. It’s a way of bonding.

And it’s definitely not something you’d get at a bachelor party.

(For more information on the Boxer Bowtie Club, click here. Founding members are Kale Butcher, Emil Defrancesco, Luke Dudley, Glen Kendall, Adam Luchansky, Andy Porter, Brett Reis, Matt Silver and Ryan Squillante. Sponsors include the Trunk Club, David Fin and Stella Artois.)

Pic Of The Day #7

Little Leaguers practicing this morning. (Photo/Leslie Flinn)

Raising Children In Trump’s America

President Trump’s crackdown on immigrants had an unexpected effect in Westport.

A few schoolchildren were worried. What, they asked their parents, would happen to their Spanish teachers? Would they be deported?

Other parents heard similar stories, about fears for foreign classmates.

Some parents had their own worries. How, they wondered, should they raise their kids in this “new” America?

They might get answers — or at least, meet similarly fretful folks — this Tuesday night (April 25, 7:30 p.m., Christ & Holy Trinity Church).

The Democratic Women of Westport are hosting a panel. The title — “Raising Children in Trump’s America” — is both timely and provocative.

President Trump, with some American kids.

The DWW says the discussion will “address the needs emerging in our community as a result of the new political landscape.” Panelists will discuss how to talk to children about the political climate in a way that is “authentic, and not fear-based.” The goal is to “use kindness as an act of resistance.”

The panel includes political activists, as well as Marji Lipshez-Shapiro (senior associate director of the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut) and Claire Dinshaw, editor-in-chief of Staples High School Inklings newspaper.

It will be moderated by Rob Simmelkjaer, a Westport Democratic Committee member and on-air contributor at NBC Sports.

Among the topics they’ll address:

  • How drastic policy shifts are being felt in Fairfield County
  • How immigrant and refugee families are faring locally
  • The social impact of Trump’s rhetoric on our schools and community.

There are sure to be questions from the audience — and comments here, from “06880” readers.

Please be civil.

Photo Challenge #121

Some of our photo challenges are easy. Some are hard.

But I don’t think I’ve ever posted one where a number of people get the right answer — but even more guess the same wrong answer.

Last week’s photo showed a picnic bench near some water. It could very well have been taken from the top of Burying Hill, looking out at Long Island Sound below.

Seven people thought it was.

But Seth Schachter actually shot the image at ground level. The bench was at Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve — the former site of Allen’s Clam House, now a wonderful, peaceful spot with tons of native grasses and plants. (Click here for the photo, and all the other wrong guesses.)

Chris Swan was the first person to answer (and he nailed it). Good thing, too — he’s been a member of the Sherwood Mill Pond Advisory Committee since its inception in 2005. (Plus, he grew up — and still lives — nearby.)

Kudos too to Matt Murray (another neighbor), Joyce Barnhart, Golda Villa, Kimberly Englander Leonard and Rebecca Wolin. I’m sure they all enjoy the preserve’s quiet beauty.

Now you can too. But ssshhh — don’t tell anyone!

This week’s photo challenge also includes a bit of water. Click “Comments” below if you know where it is.

“Save Cockenoe Now”: Still Relevant, 50 Years On

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of some significant events.

1967 was the Summer of Love. Martin Luther King spoke out against the Vietnam War. “Race riots” consumed Detroit, Newark and other cities.

Meanwhile, here in Westport, we debated whether building a 14-story nuclear power plant a mile off Compo Beach was a good idea.

The story is remembered by many — and unknown to many more. It starts with United Illuminating, the statewide utility that in 1965 secretly bought Cockenoe Island, a popular spot for boaters and fishermen.

Cockenoe Island, off Compo Beach. In 1967, it almost became the site of a nuclear power plant.

Another key player was Jo Fox Brosious, editor of the fledgling Westport News. She crusaded tirelessly against the idea.

It was not easy. Although plenty of Westporters opposed the plan, the more established Town Crier was all-in. What a boon for the tax base, the paper said.

Brosious helped rally a coalition of common citizens, conservationists, fishermen, attorneys, Senators Abraham Ribicoff and Lowell Weicker, and Congressman Stewart McKinney.

Local artists Walter and Naiad Einsel created a memorable (and very 1967-ish) poster with the group’s rallying cry:

Under pressure — with national coverage in the New York Times and Sports Illustrated, and thanks to the threat of a bill in the Connecticut legislature that would curb eminent domain requests of power companies — UI agreed to sell Cockenoe.

To the town of Westport.

The deal was struck in 1967. The purchase price was $200,000. When the contract finally closed 2 years later, the Westport News headline read: “Cockenoe Island Safe in Sound.”

Memorabilia saved by Jo Fox includes news clippings, a bumper sticker, a photo of Jo on Cockenoe, and another shot of her speaking in Hartford, as sunlight streams directly on her.

That’s the bare-bones, SparkNotes version. You can read more by clicking here.

Or — this being 2017 (not 1967) — you can watch a YouTube video about it.

The 9-minute mini-documentary comes courtesy of Julianna Shmaruk. A Staples High School sophomore, she created it for a National History Day competition.

The contest theme was “Taking a Stand” — which is exactly what Westporters did.

Julianna tracked down old newspaper clippings. She interviewed 91-year-old Joe Schachter (a boater involved in the battle), and got vintage home movie footage from Ed Stalling (a then 11-year-old who wrote a postcard decrying the sale).

Julianna’s video offers vivid evidence that — as Stalling says — “the people can win.” And that newspapers can rally public opinion.

Those lessons are just as important today as they were half a century ago.

To see Julianna’s video, click below:

Pic Of The Day #6

Bedford Square courtyard. (Photo copyright Katherine Bruan)