After graduating from Staples High School in 1988, Chris Pardon headed to Marquette University.
“It was good to get out of the Northeast,” he says of the Milwaukee school. “I saw a part of the country and met people I wouldn’t have if I stayed in the area.”
But as a journalism and broadcast communications major, most work was on the coasts. His first job was as an NBC page — so he moved back home.
Then it was on to Turner Broadcasting, where he’s been ever since. He now works on the business side, with CNN.
Pardon’s career and personal lives followed a path familiar to many Staples grads. He lived on the Upper East Side, got married, had a kid, and landed in Brooklyn.
Though his son was in a “decent” public school, it was crowded. A year and a half ago Pardon and his wife Ria decided the time was right to move to the ‘burbs.
Chris and Ria Pardon, with their son.
Her family is from Scarsdale. Pardon’s parents still live here, in the same house they raised him in. So he and Ria started looking in Westchester and Fairfield Counties.
They spent a lot of time searching for the right spot. But Westchester property taxes were “staggering.” And, Pardon says, “there are places like Chappaqua, with great schools. But there’s nothing to do there.”
In Connecticut, they did everything they could to avoid Westport — mainly because of the long commute.
But the homes they saw in Greenwich did not appeal to them. In Darien, everything affordable and likable was next to 95 or Metro-North. New Canaan — well, it’s not on the water.
It took some convincing for his wife to agree to look at the town where Pardon’s brother Doug had just bought a house, and where his parents live too.
A couple of open houses opened her eyes. And, Pardon says, “We were surprised how much further our money went in Westport.”
He knew about “great music and arts in the schools. Compo blows other Fairfield County beaches away.” But, he admits, “If I didn’t know what I was getting into, I wouldn’t want to be this far out.”
Two days before Christmas, they moved into the Old Hill neighborhood.
One surprise was the 4-year wait list for a train station parking permit. Fortunately, the shuttle bus travels along Pardon’s new street.
The Westport transit bus is a great — and unexpected — Westport perk for Doug Pardon.
“The realtor told us, but I didn’t realize how important that is,” he says.
“I thought I’d just pay $5 a day for parking. But I take the bus every day. We didn’t have to buy a 2nd car. That’s the greatest thing ever.”
He uses the app to see where the bus is in the morning. In the afternoon, it drops him off in front of his house.
Some things have changed — there’s a “new” high school, and Bedford Square “is amazing” in place of the old Y — but Pardon settled quickly into his old/new home town.
His wife took their son to a Coleytown Middle School play. “They were blown away!” he says. She has gone to school breakfasts, and met other parents.
Pardon is also surprised by the number of people he recognizes. Far more than he realized have stayed around — or, like he, returned.
“I feel like a bit of a townie,” he says. “I know there are new restaurants, and I look forward to going. But so far we’ve only been to the Duck and Dunville’s — the towniest places around.”