Tag Archives: Charlie Capalbo

Roundup: Gloria, Aqua Fit & Veterans, Touch-a-Truck …

Gloria has long been a part of Westport.

It was Alan Sterling’s working oyster boat for years. In the winter, he moored it in Gray’s Creek.

It stayed there after he died, in 2014. Michael Calise and others tended to it well.

Now — nearly a decade later — it is on its last legs.

Gloria, in Gray’s Creek. (Photo/Bruce McFadden)

Click here for an “06880” archive of Gloria stories.

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The men and women of the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s Aqua Fit classes are an energetic bunch.

They’re also community minded. All month long, they’re joining with Westport veterans’ groups, to raise awareness and help.

Yesterday, after class, a coffee hour and informational table in the Y lobby was staffed by members of VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399, and the VFW Auxiliary. They explained all the good things they do, for veterans and Westport.

Next Saturday (May 7, 10 a.m.), the Staples high School girls golf team — coached by beloved Aqua Fit instructor Patty Kondub — will tidy up and pay respect at veterans’ graves in Assumption Cemetery on Greens Farms Road. Everyone is welcome to help.

On Saturday, May 21 (4:30 to 5:30 p.m.), the public is invited to join a “drop-in” Aqua Fit class. Get healthy, see why members are so loyal — and the $20 fee for the drop-in class will benefit the VFW Auxiliary.

All month long, the Aqua Fit program is sponsoring a donation box, with “Wish List,” in the Y lobby. Both collections support Homes for the Brave, the nonprofit that helps homeless veterans.

For more information, email Patty Kondub (nortonpk@icloud.com) or Joan Evon (joanevon@optonline.net).

Westport Weston Family YMCA CEO Anjali McCormick (directly under the “Y” signs) joins members of the Westport VFW, VFW Auxiliary and Aqua Fit to promote the month of awareness of veterans’ issues.

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Beginning yesterday, stickers are required for parking at all Westport beaches.

The lifeguard chairs are not yet in position, but will soon be. Meanwhile, 2 varieties are being stored — along with what look like new chairs — at the Soundview lot.

(Photo/Robin Myers)

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The Westport Weston Cooperative Nursery School hosts a great, on-brand event this Saturday (May 7, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Imperial Avenue parking lot). It’s presented by Longshore Sailing School.

The 15th annual event includes vehicles of all shapes and sizes (for kids of all ages to climb on, and take photos of): fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, cranes, dump trucks, buses, big rigs, boats and more.

Plus food trucks, live entertainment, merchandise for sale, raffle tickets, “roaming railroad trackless train rides,” face painting, balloon animals, sensory play and more.

It can get loud. Guests with sensitivity to noise can enjoy a quiet hour from 9 to 10 a.m., with no sirens or horns.

Admission is $35 per family. Click here to purchase. All proceeds benefit the Westport Weston Cooperative Nursery School.

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Saturday night’s benefit concert in Trumbull for cancer research began with a “stick tap” honoring Charlie Capalbo. The former Fairfield Ludlowe High School goalie died last month, after battling 4 cancers. He was one month shy of 24 years old. Charlie’s grandparents are Westporters Richard Epstein and Ina Chadwick, and his mother is Staples High grad Jennifer Wilde Capalbo.

Click below to see the very moving ceremony.

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Skunk cabbage makes its first appearance in “Westport … Naturally” today.

Claudia Sherwood Servidio spotted this field at Earthplace.

(Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

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And finally … on this day in 1952, a De Havilland Comet made the first jet flight with paying passengers. The route was London to Johannesburg.

Roundup: Ducks, Ospreys, Kindness …

The Great Duck Race returns this year. But — just as ducks migrate — so does the popular Westport Sunrise Rotary fundraiser.

From 2008 to ’19, thousands of yellow ducks bobbed in the Saugatuck River. COVID forced it into a virtual format the past 2 years.

On July 9, the Great Duck Race will be run as a giant water sluice on Jesup Green. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 1), the Rotarians will see how it works as a duck race track. AJ Penna is providing a truck and front loader. Water comes from the Westport Fire Department.

Everyone is invited to watch tomorrow. “Ducks” in full costume will pose for photos.

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Also on Jesup Green: The Westport Library Book Sale.

It opened yesterday, with the usual packed crowd. It continues today (Saturday, April 30) until 5 p.m. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 1, noon to 5 p.m.) all items are half price. On Monday (May 2, 9 a.m. to noon), fill a bag for $5, or purchase individual items for half-price.

The Westport Library Book Sale yesterday. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Kindness is always on the Porch menu. Everyone feels comfortable at the Cross Highway café.

Tomorrow through May 15, they’re running a “Kids Kindness Contest.” Everyone in grades K-12 is invited to share a story of how they are kind to friends, strangers or within the community.

The K-2nd grade and 3rd-5th grade winners each earn an ice cream social with 9 friends. The middle and high school winners each get a fun lunch with 3 friends.

Forms are available at the Porch, or by clicking here.

The Porch is always “kind” of cool and great.

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Want to surprise the woman in your life the day before Mothers Day?

Take her to “Supper & Soul” next Saturday (May 7).

It’s a great event, with lots of reasons she’ll be thrilled. The 8 p.m. concert — remember live concerts? — features Cris Jacobs. He’s back in Westport, after a searing show at the 2018 Blues Views & BBQ Festival. The opening act is Gnorm.

The show is at the Westport Library, where the new, state-of-the-art sound system will blow you away.

Tickets ($90) include a 3-course dinner at a downtown restaurant (6 p.m.; list below), including tax and tip (though drinks are on you). $40 concert-only tickets are available too.

Participating restaurants include:

  • 190 Main
  • Amis
  • Arezzo
  • Basso
  • Capuli
  • De Tapas
  • Don Memo
  • Manna Toast
  • Spotted Horse
  • Wafu
  • Walrus Alley

And … after the show, your ticket is good for happy hour pricing on drinks at any of the participating restaurant. Try a different one than dinner!

Click here for tickets and more information. Click below to see Cris Jacobs. The event is sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, and the Westport Library.

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There may be no free lunch. But there was a free sapling giveaway yesterday.

Dozens of Westporters took advantage of the Arbor Day gift at Town Hall, courtesy of the Tree Board.

Residents Robert Sohmer and Debbie Fisher showed up — then offered to help. They’re shown in the photo below, as Tree Board members Alice Ely and Monica Buesser prep saplings.

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Speaking of nature: Recent reports of the Fresh Market ospreys’ demise are premature.

Carolyn Doan reports: “All is well with the pair. They are incubating now, which means they sit very low in the nest and are impossible to see.

“They are really a really strong pair, and are co-parenting. They give each other breaks while one is in the incubating position. They call out to each other when one needs a break or is hungry.

“Yesterday I watched the female sit at the top of a dead tree behind Terrain. and preen herself for 45 minutes. After faint calls from the nest, she went back. Then the male popped up. He went to a nearby perch and preened.

“The ospreys returned a week early this year, so chicks may come sooner than usual.”

A Fresh Market osprey, yesterday afternoon. (Photo/Carolyn Doan)

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Remember the Yarn Bomber? In the darkest days of the pandemic, she brightened the town with her late-night creations.

Molly Alger was not the Yarn Bomber. But — responding to an “06880” offer — she took “secret” lessons, via FaceTime.

The actual Bomber left yarn on Molly’s porch in the middle of the night. Molly  created 2 bombs for her own trees, and 2 for friends.

She also did one for the Senior Center. I lasted through 2 winters and one summer, since November 2020. But it was looking a little ragged.

Now — just in time for spring — Molly has created a new Senior Center yarn bomb.

The pandemic has eased. But the Yarn Bomber — and her protégé — live on.

The Senior Center’s new yarn bomb.

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29 Staples High School students and 6 adults returned recently from 10 days in Spain. It was the first overseas trip for a large group in a decade.

The packed itinerary included visits to Granada, Cordoba, Seville, Madrid and Barcelona. Highlights included Alhambra, scavenger hunts in cities, an olive farm, guided city tours, a flamenco lesson and show, the Prado Museum, a churro breakfast and cooking class, Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, a Good Friday religious procession, and the first women’s soccer match ever played at Camp Nou — with a crowd of 91,000.

Future trips planned by Staples’ World Language Department include Germany next spring, and a February journey to Panama focusing on STEM topics.

Cheering for the Barcelona women’s team at Camp Nou.

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Staples High School’s boys basketball team will have a new look next year.

Head coach Colin Devine is stepping down, to pursue administrative positions. In 15 years at the helm, he built the Wreckers into an FCIAC contender.

Coach Colin Devine (far left) and members of the 2018 Staples High School boys basketball team took the #ALSPepperChallenge.

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Services have been announced for Charlie Capalbo. The former Fairfield Ludlowe High hockey player battled 4 cancers before succumbing last week, one month before his 24th birthday. He is the grandson of Westporters Richard Epstein and Ina Chadwick; his mother Jennifer Wilde Capalbo is a Staples High grad.

Charlie’s wake is Wednesday, May 4 (2 to 8 p.m., Penfield Pavilion, 323 Fairfield Beach Road, Fairfield). A funeral mass is set for Thursday, May 5 (10 a.m., St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, 1719 Post Road, Fairfield). Burial will be private.

Charlie and his mother, Jennifer Wilde Capalbo.

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Today’s New York Times carries one of its most harrowing stories ever on the war in Ukraine. It begins:

 The wind carried the smell of death across the street. The body of the dead man, burned, mutilated and barely recognizable, was taken from the refrigerator and laid on a metal gurney. The coroner smoked a cigarette and unzipped the black bag.

It was a beautiful spring day. There had been no shelling that morning. And Oksana Pokhodenko, 34, gasped, blinking, at the charred corpse. That was not her brother, she told herself, that was not Oleksandr. That was barely a human.

Her brother lived once. The family patriarch for 20 years since their father died, he called his sister every day after the war started as he fled with his family to a village, Husarivka, wedged between rolling wheat fields. He kept calling — “Hello, Little One. We’re good. How are you?” — but never mentioned that the Russians had overrun the village where he was hiding.

Ms. Pokhodenko, in black jeans, a black jacket and barely laced sneakers, struggled to keep looking at the body. Her brother had taught her how to ride a bike and had loved to watch cartoons for hours with his son. To his sister, he was a “stone wall.” This was a charred husk. Half of the man’s skull was gone, and his chest cavity was splayed open.

The photos are as chilling as the writing. They’re all by Tyler Hicks, the 1988 Staples High School graduate and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Click here for the full story, and Tyler’s images.

Some of Tyler Hicks’ latest photos, illustrating atrocities in committed in Ukraine. (Photos/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

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“Westport … Naturally” waves goodbye to April (and hello to May!) with this gorgeous image from the Library Riverwalk:

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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And finally … on this day in 1803, the US purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. We spent $15 million — and more than doubled the size of our nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roundup: “06880” Blog Party, Popup Bagels, Manna Toast …

Save the date!

Thursday, July 21 is the day for our annual “06880” blog party.

It’s fun. It’s social. It’s chill.

Longtime resident or newcomer; old or young; frequent commenter or lurker — all are welcome.

Meet neighbors and strangers; politicians and normal people. Put faces to names you’ve only read about. And do it all at a place dear to every “06880” resident’s heart: Compo Beach’s South Beach, near the kayak launch.

Remember that date: July 21. See you there!

Food and fun at an “06880” bash.

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Westperters have long known and loved Popup Bagels — well, at least since 2020, when our neighbor Adam Goldberg took advantage of COVID downtime, his love of baking and his creativity to come up with what some argue is the Best. Bagel. Ever.

Compact, crusty and generously coated with seeds, they draw raves wherever they’re sold. But they’re sold only in pop-up — that is, pickup — locations.

I may have been the first media outlet to write about Popup Bagels. Since then, he’s expanded to Redding and Greenwich.

And, occasionally, New York.

Traditionally hard-to-please bagel lovers there have embraced Adam’s creations.  So has Brooklyn BagelFest, where he won the People’s Choice award. It was a stunning victory for a Fairfield County upstart.

Now comes another prize: a writeup in the New York Times. Today’s Food section contains a mouth-watering review (and photos).

Click here for the full story. Click here for the website to order — but good luck with that.

You shoulda thought of it sooner. (Hat tip: Sharon Fiarman)

A few of Adam Goldberg’s many bagels. (Photo/Jen Goldberg)

Adam Goldberg with his Brooklyn Bagelfest award.

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The closing of Church Lane to vehicles has brought excitement — and outdoor dining — to that small street downtown.

But with no dinner menu, Manna Toast could not capitalize on the fun.

Now they can. The restaurant — whose loyal customers love its plant-based, non-GMO, artisanal, organic, locally-sourced eat-in, takeout and delivery menu — has added “Manna at Night.”

Available at heated tables and indoors until 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (with more days to come soon), chef Jason Wiener offers shared plates (the roasted brussels with gingery soy and cashew coconut crunch is great), bowls (ditto the Thai curry), sliders and desserts, along with cocktails, wine and beer.

Manna Toast has rolled out the dinner options quietly, working out the kinks while maintaining the café and caterers’ high quality.

Now the word is out: Manna is much more than breakfast, lunch and toast.

(Manna Toast is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here for more information.)

A dinnertime welcome at Manna Toast.

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The last time I posted a story about a musician asking for help in the Stop & Shop parking lot, I learned it was a scam.

This one seems more legit. But I can’t vouch for sure.

Nn “06880” reader (and shopper) writes: “I came out of Stop & Shop, and heard the most beautiful music. This family moved here from Romania 6 months ago, and are living out of their car.

“They said they are connected with Family & Children’s Agency (their English was not great, so I think that is what he said). The father (playing/pictured here) was an electrician in Romania, but said he can/will do any kind of work. He learned to play music from his grandmother.”

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Rockwell Dance Center in Trumbull got to know Charlie Capalbo through his cousin Harrison, who danced there.

Every year, RDC organizes a benefit concert. Charlie — the Fairfield Ludlowe High School graduate/hockey goalie, and grandson of Westporters Ina Chadwick and Richard Epstein — was battling cancer for the 4th time.

When RDC asked Charlie if they could do this year’s concert in his honor, he said yes — provided the proceeds went to 2 local pediatric cancer charities that helped him and his family. He chose Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer, and LIVFREE.

Charlie died last week, a month before his 24th birthday. The concert — this Saturday (April 30, 7 p.m., Trumbull High School) — will celebrate his life.

The dance community and hockey community will come together for Charlie. The Fairfield Co-op, Fairfield Prep, Trumbull High and St. Joseph hockey teams will open the concert with a “stick tap for Charlie.”

The concert includes song and dance. Tickets are $20, and are available at the door (cash, check or Venmo), or through Venmo now (@theparkerproject).

Charlie Capalbo (Photo/Dave Gunn)

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MoCA Westport’s Family Day will have something for everyone.

Even the world-famous Piglet.

The June 18 event (noon to 2 p.m.) features the blind, deaf pink puppy of that name. He’s  inspired a global movement for acceptance, inclusion, empathy and kindness. Veterinarian Melissa Shapiro — author and co-creator of “The Piglet Mindset” — will share his story, and talk about her new children’s book “Piglet Comes Home.”

The day also includes healing art activities, mural painting, music by Dustin Lowman, an ice cream truck, meet-and-greet with dogs from Westport Animal Shelter Advocates, homemade doggy treats from Earth Animal, and free admission to the exhibit of Westport student artwork. Click here for tickets.

Piglet at Compo Beach.

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Starting Sunday (May 1,), stickers will be required to park at Westport beaches.

Part of the fee goes to beach maintenance. Crews were out in force yesterday, getting ready for the (hopefully) warm weather ahead.

(Photo/Pat Auber)

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)

Meanwhile, progress continues on the jetty/groin project at Burying Hill Beach.

(Photo/Peter J. Swift)

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The spring issue of Westport Magazine is out.

Author Jane Green graces the cover. Other features include dozens of ways to enjoy life, and a glowing review of Allium Eatery.

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Three years ago, RTM member Andrew Colabella turned 30. He wrote about that turning point for “06880.”

Today he turns 33. Time marches on. Happy birthday to a good old guy.

Andrew Colabella

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The Burying Hill osprey gets less press than its Fresh Market cousin.

But it too is majestic. It poses here, in all its “Westport … Naturally” splendor,

(Photo/John Prenderville Jr.)

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And finally … Duke Ellington was born 123 years ago today. The jazz pianist, composer and bandleader died in 1974. But his music is eternal.

 

 

 

Roundup: Battle Of Compo Hill, Willy Wonka, Take Back Drugs …

Susan Iseman subscribes to the “Today in Connecticut History” news feed. Every day, a different event is highlighted.

Today is Westport’s turn. The site cites the 245th anniversary of 1,800 British troops’ march from Compo Beach to Danbury, where they burned a supply depot.

April 26: British Forces Attack, Burn Danbury

The event — including the subsequent retreat back to their ships off Compo Beach, and the Battle of Compo Hill on April 28, when the patriots made life miserable for the invaders — is memorialized by our iconic Minute Man monument.

Click here for the fascinating story of those historic 1777 days.

Remembering 1777.

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Happy National Prescription Drug Take Back Day!

This Saturday (April 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Senior Center), the Westport Police Department partners with the US Drug Enforcement Administration to accept medications (pills or patches) that are no longer needed.

The Senior Center cannot accept liquids, needles or sharps. Vape pens whose batteries can be removed are okay, those whose batteries cannot be removed are not.

The service is free and anonymous; no questions are asked.

Since its inception 22 years ago, the program has removed more than 15.2 million pounds of medication from circulation nationwide.

The WPD also has a year-round collection bin in the lobby of police headquarters. Prescription drugs can be disposed of any time there.

For more information about Take Back Day, click here.

Bedford Acting Group — the middle school theatre program — returned to the stage this year after a tough, 2-year hiatus due to COVID,

The fall production of “Annie” was a success, thanks to a cast of 7th and 8th graders (and professional actor dog Sandy).

This weekend the 6th graders debut on the Bedford stage. They perform “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” with the help of director Ryan Smith and nearly two dozen 7th and 8th grade student directors.

The youngsters shadow Smith, run scenes and lines, create blocking, make suggestions on character choices, and step in to read when students are absent.

This is Smith’s first year at the Bedford Acting Group helm. After performing with Staples Players before graduating in 1996, he acted professionally on national tours.

He returned to his hometown and served as associate director of Bedford Acting Group alongside Kevin Slater, then helped run the program with longtime director Karen McCormick.  Now in the head role, he works with assistant director Melisa Didio.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” features audiovisual and special effects, and surprises in the Wonka factory. Costumes reflect the 1970s, and the set is vibrantly colored.

Among the volunteers: theatrical designer Karen Root, whose daughter Helen acts in the show, and actor Colin Walker, whose daughter Brady is a student director.

Performances are Friday, April 29 (7:30 p.m.), Saturday, April 30 (2 and 7 p.m.), and Sunday, May 1 (2 p.m.). Click here for tickets and more information.

Harper Iglehart and Samantha Skopp are double cast as Willy Wonka

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A few days ago, “06880” announced the release of Alan Fiore’s first song, “Take the Bait!”

The 2021 Staples High School graduate/current Berklee College of Music student produced, mixed and mastered it all himself.

It’s already registered over 5,000 Spotify streams, and 2,000 on Apple Music. It earned rave reviews in Darkus (which called Alan “one of 2022’s newest rising stars”) and Wolf in a Suit (“with this stunning showcase of feelings and emotions (Alan) gives life to a tale so raw and so true”).

Click here for links to all streaming platforms. Click here for Alan’s website, and more music.

Alan Fiore

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The “06880” community has been heartbroken to learn of Charlie Capalbo’s death. The 23-year-old Fairfield hockey player — grandparents Ida Chadwick and Richard Epstein live in Westport, and whose mom Jennifer Wilde Capalbo graduated from Staples — battled cancer 4 times, before succumbing on Sunday.

The emotional toll on Charlie’s family over the past 5 years has been devastating. So is the financial toll.

A GoFundMe page is helping with medical expenses. Click here for more information, and to contribute.

Charlie and his mother, Jennifer Wilde Capalbo.

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Destination Haus — the new gallery and home décor store at 56 Riverside Avenue — invites everyone for cocktails and light bites this Thursday (April 28, 4 to 7 p.m.)

Like the original store in Montauk, Destination Haus offers

Offering curated artwork, furniture, glassware, candles, pillows, pottery, home accessories and jewelry from around the globe. It’s a “destination” for anyone moving into, redesigning or redecorating their “haus.”

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Designer/entrepreneur/humanitarian/Prince Charles’ goddaughter India Hicks comes to MoCA Westport on May 12 (5 to 7 p.m.).

After a cocktail hour, she’ll chat with Connecticut Cottages & Gardens editorial director DJ Carey about her recent book, “An Entertaining Story,” and more.

Tickets include hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and a copy of India’s book. Guests also get a peek at Hicks’ new collaboration with British luxury brand Tusting. Click here to purchase and for more information, or call 222-7070. Funds support visual arts, performing arts and educational offerings for the community.

India Hicks

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There’s no better sign of spring … nor a better candidate for “Westport … Naturally” than this image. Jill Grayson captured it, in her yard.

(Photo/Jill Grayson)

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And finally … in honor of Jill Grayson’s photo above:

 

 

 

Remembering Charlie Capalbo

Charlie Capalbo — the Fairfield Ludlowe High School graduate and hockey player whose battle with 4 separate cancers inspired friends, neighbors, the sports world and countless strangers — died yesterday. He was 1 month shy of his 24th birthday.

Charlie’s Westport ties were long and deep. His grandmother is the writer/poet/storyteller Ina Chadwick. Her husband, Richard Epstein (Charlie’s grandfather) is a Westport native; his parents moved here in 1958. Charlie’s mother, Jennifer Wilde Capalbo (Ina’s youngest daughter) is a Staples graduate. 

Charlie’s family wrote:

After 5 years and 745 nights spent in hospitals, let’s just say that one got by Charlie in the 4th overtime today.

He passed away at 3 p.m.

When you are a goalie, sometimes you can do everything right, trying as hard as you can, and still lose.

The entire team can play with the utmost skill and energy and still not come away with a win.

The management, coaches, and team may have made all great decisions and have the right pieces in place and still lose.

The trainers, equipment managers, maintenance folks, parking attendants may have done everything right as well.

Charlie Capalbo (Photo/Dave Gunn)

While this loss is heartbreaking, Charlie, his family, friends, neighbors, community friends, doctors, nurses, technicians, clinical assistants, child life specialists, valet team, cafeteria, administrative and maintenance folks, volunteers, and security team, etc. all went way above and beyond what anyone would expect for all these years.

So many lessons were learned, and endless amounts of love and support were offered.

The depth of emotions we all feel are impossible to describe.

We will be forever grateful to the thousands of people that have made this entire journey special, despite each painful setback.

We will continue to honor Charlie in everything we do. We will stay grateful and hopeful and will recover from this loss the way that Charlie wanted us to.
Jenny, Anthony, Will, and Peyton would like to say “thank you” to everyone who has supported Charlie and them.

“Lean on me, and I’ll lean on you. And together we’ll get through…we always do” – Ray LaMontagne

“06880” was honored to share several stories of Charlie’s courage, and the Fairfield and Westport communities’ love for him. Click below to read 3:

Charlie Capalbo’s Biggest Battle

Charlie And Will Capalbo: Goalies Try For An Amazing Save

Charlie Capalbo: An Inspiring Update

Roundup: Original Pancake House, Pottery Barn, Westport Hardware …

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It’s been years since IHOP left Westport (though the bones of the building, a now-closed nail salon, can still be seen opposite Fire Department headquarters on the Post Road).

But a new pancake place is headed to town.

WestportMoms reports this morning that The Original Pancake House will open this summer on Main Street. They’ll take over the 2nd floor space formerly occupied by Boca restaurant (and before that, Acqua).

The original Original Pancake House — TOPH, to its fans — opened in 1953 in Portland, Oregon. There are now over 100 locations in 28 states and overseas.

But none are in Connecticut. The closest right now is White Plains.

Among the signature dishes: apple pancakes, Dutch Baby, German pancakes and omelets.

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Speaking of Main Street: Get set for some reshuffling of Westport retail space.

Westport Hardware will move a few yards west. The popular store opposite Fresh Market — the only one of its kind left in town — will take over the space formerly occupied by Sam Sloat Coins, Luxe Nail Spa, and part of Lester’s and now-closed Wish List. The nail salon will be relocating.

The new space — about the same size as the current store — will be bright, with open ceilings, a Westport Hardware spokesperson said.

So what’s replacing Westport Hardware?

Pottery Barn. They’ll move from Main Street. Pottery Barn will also take over the now-closed Mumbai Times restaurant and Vincent Palumbo Salon, on both sides of the hardware store. That’s around 15,000 square feet.

Target date for the move is late August.

In August Westport Hardware moves west; Pottery Barn moves in.

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There’s a lot on the Board of Finance’s plate at its March 2 meeting (7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium).

Among the agenda items:

  • Presentation of the 2022-23 town budget, by 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker.
  • Presentation of the 2022-23 education budget, by Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice.
  • A request for $1.431 million to extend sewers to Whitney Street, Roseville Road, Fernwood Road, Plumtree Lane, Pamela Place and Ledgemoor Lane.
  • A request for $3.1 million to extend sewers to Evergreen Avenue and Parkway, Tamarac Road, Lone Pine Lane, Gorham Avenue, Compo Road North and Brookside Drive.

The meeting will also be livestreamed on the town website, and shown on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. Click here for the full agenda.

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Congratulations to the Staples High School girls ice hockey team (a co-op squad, with Stamford and Westhill Highs).

A 3-0 win over Darien vaults them into their first-ever FCIAC final. Kate Tortorella scored twice, Annie Forker once, adn goalie Sydney Butler earned the shutout.

They play New Canaan on Saturday. Good luck! (Hat tip: The Ruden Report)

The Staples/Stamford/Westhiill girls ice hockey coop team.

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Michael Chait’s photography has been featured on “06880.” He’s got a large following on social media too. Michael’s followers love his unique images of Westport, New York City and other locations.

But it’s one thing to see his work on a computer or phone screen. They’re even more impressive live, and in person.

You’ll get that chance on Saturday, March 5 (4 to 7 p.m.) and Sunday, march 6 (1 to 4 p.m.). There’s a special show at the Loft Studio/Office, 11 Riverside Avenue, 2nd floor.

That’s on the corner of Post Road West — one more favored spot for Michael’s photos.

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Charlie Capalbo — the 23-year-old standout Fairfield hockey goalie, and grandson of Westport writer Ina Chadwick — has beaten cancer 3 times: lymphoma once, leukemia twice. Countless friends and strangers have rallied to his remarkable cause.

Astonishingly, he’s just been diagnosed with leukemia a third time. His fourth cancer battle in 5 years will include very expensive experimental treatments and immunotherapies — on top of the immense cost of previous treatments.

To donate to Charlie’s Go Fund Me page, click here. You can also email words of encouragement to charlie@optimalservices.com; leave a voicemail at 203-293-8464 (his phone won’t ring), and join the Friends of Charlie Capalbo Facebook page.

Charlie Capalbo (Photo/Dave Gunn)

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Today’s New York Times has an interesting story on a Republican US Senate candidate in Pennsylvania. Michael David McCormick is trying to thread the needle between being seen as a Trump ally, and one not too extreme in the state President Biden won by 1.2 percentage points. One consultant advised running in the “Trump-adjacent lane.”

The story notes that McCormick — a West Point graduate, army Ranger, Ph.D. graduate of Princeton and Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration — was most recently CEO of Bridgewater Associates.

The Times calls notes that the hedge fund’s “fieldstone-and-glass headquarters … on a wooded, 22-acre campus in Westport, Conn (are) a world away from Pennsylvania cities like Scranton, McKeesport and Aliquippa, which have been hit hard by the kinds of shifts in global trade that Bridgewater’s traders and analysts seek to monetize each day.”

It adds: “A former Democrat, McCormick has made voluminous comments on world affairs, and they aren’t always very MAGA.”

Click here for the full story, including McCormick’s views on China — a country the Times says holds particular fascination for Bridgewater.

Bridgewater’s “fieldstone-and-glass” headquarters, off Weston Road.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows a beautiful sunset at Longshore. They just keep coming…

(Photo/Elisabeth Levey)

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And finally … a little tune to celebrate National Sauna Week:

 

 

 

Roundup: Christmas Tree, Charlie Capalbo, Aspetuck Land Trust

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For years, one of the highlights of the holiday season has been the beautiful fir tree at 58 North Avenue.

Just a few yards south of Staples High School, it was a lit lovingly every year by the homeowners, the Hardin family. In its high visibility location, it brought joy to everyone who drove by.

But the gorgeous tree was in bad shape. The owners had to remove it.

Jodi Christensen-Hardin carefully cut off branches. She collected more fallen branches at Winslow Park, along with large vines that were killing trees there.

She created a new structure — and hung lights all around. It looks intriguing by day …

Jodi Christensen-Hardin with her new creation. (Photo/Jane Green)

… and wonderful at night:

(Photo/Jodi Christensen-Hardin)

Thanks, Jodi and family, for finding a way to keep lighting up our lives!

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All across Connecticut, people have been inspired by Charlie Capalbo’s fight against cancer.

The 23-year-old Fairfield resident — grandson of Westport writer Ina Chadwick — had 3 different diagnoses, over the past 4 years. With the help of his younger brother, who donated bone marrow and T and stem cells — plus other family members, friends, teammates and opponents and others in the hockey world, and complete strangers, the former Fairfield Ludlowe High School goalkeeper has beaten the odds 3 times.

On Friday, hundreds of people gathered in Fairfield to welcome Charlie home. He’d spent 322 in a Boston hospital.

The crowd was overwhelming. Charlie and his family were overwhelmed. It’s hard to imagine a greater Christmas gift for anyone.

(Click here for the full Connecticut Post story.)

Welcome home, Charlie! (Photo/John McCormick)

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After 10 years of negotiations and fundraising, Aspetuck Land Trust has closed on the 10-acre Montanaro property in Wilton

It’s in an important spot. It fills a “donut hole” in the Weston Wilton Forest Reserve. If — as proposed — 2 large houses had been built there, cars and trucks would have driven right through one of ALT’s oldest preserves, 119-acre Honey Hill.

That’s the second property in a month acquired by Aspetuck Land Trust. The other is the 85-acre Fromson Strassler property in Weston.

To learn more about this important preservation organization, click here.

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Lou Weinberg is one of our town’s best nature photographers. His shot of a mourning dove is his latest “Westport … Naturally” contribution.

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … Ralph Tavares died last week, a few days before his 80th birthday.

With his 4 younger brothers, he was part of the group Tavares. They had several hits in the 1970s — including, of course, a classic “Saturday Night Fever” cut.

Click here for a full obituary.(Hat tip: Amy Schneider)

 

Roundup: Donut Crazy, Merritt Parkway, “La Mancha” …

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Donut Crazy — the wonderful, warm, not-for-the-calorie-conscious coffeehouse on the eastbound side of the Saugatuck train station — is closed today.

It’s unclear whether it’s permanent. Loyal customers hope not. Their fingers are crossed it will reopen — perhaps under new owners.

The past 17 months have not been easy. Always a bit out of the way for late-arriving morning commuters to New York, the steep drop in ridership during the pandemic must have hurt.

The arrival of Steam donuts and coffee at Desi’s Corner, at the Railroad Place by Riverside Avenue, is another blow.

Donut Crazy’s 4 other locations — in Stratford, Shelton, Branford and West Hartford — remain open. That’s not too far to go for some of the craziest donuts (and more) on earth. (Hat tip: Carolanne Curry)

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Hurricane Henri was a washout. It had virtually no effect on Westport — except for a ban on beach activities through Wednesday.

Swimming, fishing and paddle crafts are prohibited for the next 2 days, says Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper.

The cause: possible contamination of Long Island Sound, from untreated sewage discharges after the storm.

It’s a good thing Caroline Sherman swam to Cockenoe Island before Sunday. (Photo/Alex Sherman)

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The Merritt Parkway paving project between northbound Exits 40 and 41 appear to be a mess.

Readers report numerous flat tires, due to holes in the pavement. Be careful out there!

In better days …

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Sam Palmer is the son of a Staples High School teacher. A 2019 graduate of Fairfield Warde High School, he’s been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s waiting for a blood stem cell/bone marrow transplant.

And he needs a donor.

A “Swab for Sam/Be the Match” donor registration drive is set for this Saturday (August 28, 9 to 11 a.m., Fairfield Warde High School, 755 Melville Avenue).

It takes just 5 minutes to register, and have your cheek swabbed to enter the marrow donor registry. The more donors, the more chances Sam — and others like him — have to live long, full lives.

Sam Palmer

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Rod Gilbert — the New York Rangers great who died last weekend at 80 — leaves behind many fans.

Among them: Charlie Capalbo. The Fairfield hockey player — and grandson of Westporters Ina Chadwick and Richard Epstein — has battled cancer for several years. His spirits have been lifted by many people in the hockey world.

Gilbert was among the first. Here was his message to Charlie, in 2017:

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Did you miss the 2018 Westport Country Playhouse presentation of “Man of La Mancha?” Saw it, and want to see it again? Just looking for great entertainment, as the Delta variant has us all wary again of crowds?

The award-winning show is available now, on demand, through September 5.  Tickets start at just $25. Click here to order.

Pick a time. Buy sangria. Prepare paella. Enjoy!

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Laura Nelson died Friday, surrounded by family and friends, following a battle with cancer. She was 55.

Her family says: “Laura’s light always shined brightly. The people of Westport may remember sharing a friendly wave, a peace sign or a warm smile with Laura as she drove around the neighborhood in her clementine orange VW bus, laughing and soaking up every drop of life.

“She was an accomplished communications executive and public relations expert, dedicated wife and mother, loving sister and aunt, best friend, and adored colleague.

“Above all, Laura loved her husband Jim and their children Charlie and Annabelle fiercely and unconditionally. Her pride in their accomplishments knew no bounds.”

Laura began her career as a PR professional with Dan Klores Associates in New York City. For over 3 decades she rose through the media industry as the cable television business flourished.

In her early career she led the communications team at Comedy Central, then a fledgling startup channel. She rose to senior vice president of communications and public affairs for VH1 and MTV. She later joined Nielsen, where she served as chief communications officer during a transformative period.

Laura advised celebrities and media executives throughout her career. Her family says, “She was known as a savvy strategist and insightful advisor. She was a student of the spoken and written word and used this knowledge to advance the interests of her clients and organizations. Maybe most importantly, Laura knew how to bring out the best in her people—she was the perfect combination of mentor, coach, advocate, leader, and friend. Over the years, she assembled multiple award-winning teams, and many of her protégés have gone on to serve as chief marketing and communications officers themselves.”

Born in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, Laura grew up in Darien. In 1983, Laura served as a Page in the US Senate and attended the Capitol Page School. At Darien High School she was the editor of the school newspaper. She graduated from Boston College with a BA in ohilosophy. As part of her undergraduate studies, she attended Temple University in Rome, where she developed a lifelong love of Italy and its culture.

Her family notes: “Laura was generous, loyal, and warm, and she readily adopted friends into her extended family. She was known for her sense of humor, authenticity, and dedication to her family and friends. She was unyielding on the things that mattered to her and to the world, and she loved with her whole heart and soul.

She is survived by her husband James A. Kremens; children Charles Kremens and Annabelle Kremens, all of Westport; siblings Gina Wilcox (Brady) of Old Lyme; Paul Nelson (Julie) of Wilmette, Illinois, and Andrew Nelson (Meghan) of Cincinnati.

A mass of Christian burial will be held Friday, (August 27, 11 a.m., Church of the Assumption.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Cancer Couch Foundation, P.O. Box 1145, Southport, CT 06890, or thecancercouch.com.

Laura Nelson

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The rain seems finally to have moved away. As it moved out yesterday, it left this hopeful sign over Sherwood Mill Pond:

(Photo/Ferdinand Jahnel)

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The Friends of the Weston Senior Activities Center plan a flea market for Saturday, September 18 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Weston High School).

Past years have drawn 80 vendors, selling old, new and handmade items. Spaces are going quickly. To reserve a space, call 203-222-2608.

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It doesn’t get more “Westport … Naturally” than this Winslow Park scene.

(Photo/JC Martin)

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And finally … country singer/songwriter Tom T. Hall died Friday, at his Tennessee home.

He was known both for the songs he wrote and sang himself, and those he wrote for others. Click here for a full obituary.

Roundup: RTM & Hiawatha, Mercury & Cumby’s, Coral & Ospreys …

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This week, the Representative Town Meeting’s Planning & Zoning Subcommittee voted 5-1 to uphold the P&Z’s agreement with Summit Saugatuck, to build 157 units of housing — some of it deemed “affordable” — on Hiawatha Lane, near I-95 Exit 17.

The debate now moves to the full RTM. That meeting is set for June 8 (7:30 p.m., Zoom).

It will be livestreamed on http://www.westportct.gov, and shown on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020.

Members of the public may attend the meeting by video. Send an email before or during the session to RTMcomments@westportct.gov, with your name and address. Meeting details will be emailed to you. Registered electors attending by video can comment (3-minute time limit).

Emails to all members may also be sent before the meeting: RTMmailinglist@westportct.gov.

Artist’s rendering of one of the buildings at the Hiawatha Lane development.

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Mercury just spent a ton of money to upgrade their gas station on Post Road East, near the Southport border.

Cumberland Farms must have come in with a great offer. Soon, Mercury will turn into Cumby’s.

No word on whether it will replace the smaller store near Sakura, or if Westport is doubling its Cumberland Farms count. (Hat tip: Matt Murray)

Mercury, at Post Road East and Bulkley Avenue South. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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Around here, Jana Ireijo is known for her role in the vanishing murals project downtown. (She drew a koala.)

Now she’s earning renown clear across the country.

The Nature Conservancy Hawaii commissioned her to create a vanishing mural of a coral reef on Maui. Parts are done in chalk, and are already washing away.

The project was timed to coincide with Earth Day and World Ocean Day (June 8). Click here to learn more.’=

Jana Ireijo’s vanishing Maui mural.

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Charlie Capalbo’s battles with cancer have inspired people around the world.

The 23-year-old Fairfield native — and grandson of Westport writer Ina Chadwick — beat lymphoma and leukemia. Now he’s facing off against leukemia again.

It’s a costly fight. And the need is great. Charlie’s dad lost his job at the beginning of COVID, and is just getting his new real estate career off the ground. His mom, Jen, has been working per diem. That’s now on hold.

Fortunately, Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and radio personality Greg Hill have pledged to match every $1 donated — up to $20,000 each. That could mean a total of $60,000 to support Charlie and his family.

Click here to help. Then watch your contribution triple.

Charlie Capalbo (Photo/Dave Gunn)

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This week’s #FridayFlowers bouquet decorates an appropriate site: the Doughboy statue on Veterans Green, opposite Town Hall.

Hundreds of Westporters will gather there Monday, for the post-Memorial Day parade ceremony. The moving tribute will be extra special, thanks to the Westport Garden Club.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)

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Osprey update!

Carolyn Doan reports: “All is well at the Fresh Market nest. The female is up and around more. She faces inward, meaning she’s tending to something in the middle.

“I think I heard faint peeps while standing below, so presumably there are chicks! If so they are very small. We’ll have to wait to see their little heads.

“Yesterday the male brought home a fish. He patiently waited on his favorite branch for the family to wake up. Once there was enough activity, he swooped in with breakfast.”

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)

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“Westport … Naturally”: Today Lori Levine shares a shot of found a little fellow she found sunbathing in her back yard, on an Adirondack chair.

(Photo/Jan van Arsdale)

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Seen at Sherwood Island: Yeah, this means you!

(Photo/JC Martin)

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And finally … John Davis died this week, of complications from COVID. He was 66.

You may not recognize his name. But he was one of the real singers for the fake duo Milli Vanilli. They won a Grammy for their debut album in 1990, but lost it when news broke that the singers had not actually sung. Click here for a full obituary.

 

Roundup: Farmers’ Market, Outdoor Dining, Charlie Capalbo …

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One of the surest signs of spring is the return of the Westport Farmers’ Market.

Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 13. The Market will run every Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through mid-November, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. Cross Culture Kombucha will offer a special toast, to celebrate WFM’s perseverance through the pandemic.

The Market’s shopping experience and programming (including Get Growing, Music @ the Market, Artist Alley, Chef @ the Market, Friend of the Market and Young Shoots) will operate much like before COVID — while honoring all state and local health guidelines.

Over 50 vendors will participate this season (click here for the full list), with over 30 on site each Thursday. New vendors include

  • Parlor
  • Stonington Kelp Farm
  • Edenesque (alternative dairy)
  • Tribus Brewery
  • Sprout Juice Bar
  • Stylish Spoon
  • And more.

For more information, click here or email   director@westportfarmersmarket.com.

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State and local officials wanted to support for outdoor dining. What better spot to do it than an actual restaurant.

Yesterday, the group gathered at Tarantino’s. They discussed a new state expansion of rules, and the possibility of making them permanent. Removing parking, adding seating on Railroad Place, and the use of town- and state-owned parking lots were among the concepts.

Dining and discussion at Tarantino’s (clockwise from left): 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce executive director Matthew Mandell, State Senator Tony Hwang, State Representative Stephanie Thomas.

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A few spots remain for tomorrow’s (Saturday, May 1) Fleet Feet 5K and kids’ fun runs. The youngsters start at 9:30 a.m., with the 5K following at 10. Click here to register.

Both kick off the 2nd annual Fitness & Health Expo. The event takes place all along Main Street (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), but many more businesses and organizations are involved.

Westport’s leading studios and clubs — including JoyRide, Pure Barre, Row House, Elliptica, Intensity, Physique57, Club Pilates, Saugatuck Rowing Club, The Dance Collective, Stretch Lab, Kaia Yoga and the Westport Weston Family YMCA — will organize fun (and challenging) classes on main Street.

Walk-ups are not permitted for classes. To register, contact each studio directly. Observers are welcome, of course!

Other health and wellness folks will have a presence too: Franny’s Farmacy, RESTORE Cryo, Cparkly Soul, Wisdom and Youth MedSpa, Embrace Orthodontics, New England Hemp Farm, TAP Strength Lab and Organic Krush. It’s sponsored by the Westport Downtown Association.

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Jill Bodach is an adjunct professor at Fairfield University. Describing Charlie Capalbo — the Fairfield resident whose grandmother is Westport writer Ina Chadwick, and who has fiercely battled cancer twice — she says:

“Over the years, I have had the privilege of being allowed into some of my students’ most intimate moments: the grief of losing loved ones, the end of relationships, engagements and graduate school acceptances, but never has a student’s story impacted me as deeply as Charlie’s.

He was enrolled in my Creative Writing: Fiction 1 class this semester but before classes could really begin, I learned he wouldn’t complete the semester due to his treatment. I wanted to help. Maybe it was because I saw this handsome, curly-haired young man’s face on my class roster and thought, ‘Wow, the world can be so incredibly unfair sometimes. Maybe it was because I’m a parent myself. Maybe it was because my son Jack was very sick when he was born and my husband and I endured the mental and emotional rollercoaster of having a hospitalized child. Maybe it was because as we emerged from the dark isolation of the pandemic I felt the need to connect with others deeply and more fervently than ever before.

When Jill’s trainer challenged her to run 100 miles in May, she saw it as a way to help Charlie.

When he told Jill during a text that he uses Uber Eats regularly — and she thought about the important role food plays in our lives — she had an idea for a fundraiser.

“I will think of Charlie with every step I take,” she writes of her 100-mile goal. “I am in awe of his courage, bravery, resilience and grit …. Someday Charlie will be back on the ice, back on campus and back to enjoying his life, but in the meantime, I’m grateful to be able to help.”

All proceeds from “Fuel for the Fight” will purchase Uber Eats gift cards for the Capalbos. Their expenses have been enormous. Click here to contribute.

Charlie and his mother, Jennifer Wilde Capalbo — with food.

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Attention, middle schoolers looking for an in-person social justice theater camp:

Check out Camp WCP. That’s the newest offering from the Westport Country Playhouse. It runs July 6 through 30, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the rehearsal studio.

Actin will be taught in the morning, playwriting/production in the afternoon. Young artists  will create original pieces focusing on “What does home mean to you?” Working with playwright and University of Michigan professor José Casas, they’ll weave their stories into a play.

On July 31, students will share their original creations at the Playhouse. with family and friends.

Registration begins Monday (May 3); click here.

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The Unitarian Church is nestled in the church off Lyons Plains Road. Nature is everywhere — including this photo by their director of social justice, David Vita.

“Dinner time,” he says simply.

(Photo/David Vita)

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And finally … Johnny Horton was born today, in 1925. If he hadn’t been killed in an automobile accident in 1960, there’s no telling how many other historical saga songs he could have recorded.