Tag Archives: CLASP

Roundup: Taste, Playhouse, Cops …

It may be Westport’s best culinary event of the year.

The 17th annual “Taste of Westport” sold out quicker than ever this spring. Last night, hundreds of residents packed the Inn at Longshore, to enjoy food and drinks from more than 2 dozen restaurants and vendors — plus bid on an enormous silent auction, and buy raffle tickets.

It was all for a great cause: CLASP, the Westport-based organization serving adults with autism and developmental disabilities throughout Fairfield County.

The Inn went all out making it a special night. So did a host of groups that supported the Taste of Westport.

Special appreciation goes to the staffs who kept the treats coming all night:

  • Artisan
  • Boathouse Restaurant
  • Black Bear Wines & Spirits
  • Bridgewater Chocolate
  • Cold Fusion Gelato & Sorbet
  • DeTapas
  • 5th Estate Distillery
  • Gruel Brittania
  • Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse
  • Grumpy Dumpling Co.
  • Freisenet Mionetto
  • Isla & Co.
  • Little Pub
  • La Plage
  • Leven(thal) Bakery
  • Mrs. London’s Artisan Bakery
  • Magic Pie Co.
  • NewSylum Brewing
  • Nðmade
  • Nordic Fish
  • Rive Bistro
  • Rizzuto’s
  • Romanacci Pizza Bar
  • Post Oak Barbecue Co.
  • Tablao Wine Bar & Restaurant
  • Sono1420 American Craft Distillers
  • Tarantino Restaurant
  • Walrus Alley

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


Westport Country Playhouse artistic director Mark Lamos sent this email yesterday:

“Dear Subscribers and Donors –

“Thank you for your continued support during my 15 years with the Playhouse. Because I value the relationship we have, I wanted personally to inform you, before it is announced to the press tomorrow, that I will be leaving the Playhouse in January 2024.

“The pandemic, though challenging and globally tragic, also proved positive — for me — in many ways.

“While working tirelessly to sustain the Playhouse during this period of extreme uncertainty, I was also relieved of the burdens, excitement, and anxiety of producing and directing. I began to sense another way of living my life now. Though staff, trustees, and I worked diligently to keep the Playhouse functioning during 2 difficult years, the pandemic’s exigencies allowed me to spend more time at home with my husband Jerry, and to experience new-found quotidian joy: taking long daily walks, listening to more music, reading for hours a day, investing in our home, and taking care of an aging, beloved dog.

“The racial reckoning that awakened our country also had a profound, transformative effect on my feelings about how and why we make theater now. And I realized I’d need time to take the advice of 2 formidable female friends who insisted I create a new artistic challenge for myself. That project has begun but needs my full attention. And so after some thoughtful times over the holidays, last January 15 I felt the time had come to exercise the clause in my contract that allows me to leave upon 12 months’ notice.

“During my 15 seasons at this historic theater, I worked hard to raise its already formidable artistic standards as much as possible through my collaboration with some truly world class American theater artists. I sought to bring a wider range of voices to our stage in the most physically beautiful productions our budgets allowed. I took special pleasure in investing in the work of Black, Latinx, and AAPI artists, bringing the voices of many marginalized communities to our stage.

“And it’s been a real joy working with our amazing staff over the years, people who realized dreams and met goals, especially our Associate Producer/Director of Production David Dreyfoos, without whom the above — and so much else — would have been impossible. I’ll really miss them. I especially look forward to working with them all closely as I direct the upcoming production Dial M For Murder. I hope that you will join me during the run and celebrate all the wonderful memories we have made here, at the Playhouse.”

Mark Lamos


Westport Police made 3 custodial arrests between May 3 and 10.

One was for domestic violence, following an incident at a local business.

Another arrest was for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and failure to drive in the proper lane, after a head-on collision on Compo Road South.

The third was for violation of home improvement requirements, when a non-licensed contractor did not complete work.

Police also issued these citations:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 7 citations
  • Failure to comply with state traffic regulations: 6
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 4
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 3
  • Speeding: 2
  • Operating a motor vehicle without minimum insurance: 2
  • Failure to obey stop sign: 1
  • Failure to obey traffic control signal: 1
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 1
  • Improper turn/no signal: 1
  • Failure to display license plates: 1
  • Improper use of license plates: 1
  • Failure to renew driver’s license: 1

Every contractor in the state must have one of these.


Speaking of the Westport Police:

Their newest K-9, Brute, just received a Kevlar bullet-resistant vest

The donation came from Responder Wellness, a non-profit that provides equipment and wellness services to first responders.

Brute, his bullet-resistant vest, his handlers and donors.


Kai Ross is a star on the Staples High School water polo team.

His star now shines a bit brighter: He’s just been named to the USA Water Polo national youth team.

The 6-6, 248-pound center competes in San Diego this weekend, then heads back to California for the US men’s senior nationals in July.

He has had several college scholarship offers. But he’s young — not yet 18 — so he’ll take a gap year after graduating next month. He’ll likely spend the fall with a California club, then head to Spain, Italy or Croatia to play in the spring.

Kai Ross


If you tried to email Luisa Francoeur yesterday about the model schooner she’s selling — my apologies. Her address was incorrect.

Here’s her email that really works: nutmeg5@optonline.net. Sail away!

Luisa Francouer’s schooner.


Crispin Cioe has been busy.

Last week the Westporter — who has played sax with James Brown, the Rolling Stones, Solomon Burke, Darlene Love, Tom Waits, Ray Charles, Robert Palmer, Bronski Beat, the Ohio Players, Usher and many others — jammed with Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Mark Naftalin at the Westport Woman’s Club art show.

On May 19 (6:30 p.m.), his latest project is unveiled at the Westport Library.

For the past decade he’s been co-producing a documentary film (with Westport director Larry Locke called “Heaven Stood Still: The Incarnations of Willy DeVille.”

Cioe performed with singer/songwriter DeVille often in the 1980s, on tours and festivals in Europe and US.

DeVille (né Billy Borsey) grew up in Stamford, where he led teenage bands. After England and San Francisco, he landed in New York in the mid-’70s with his band Mink DeVille, at the newly opened CBGB. He had a solo career from the ’80s until he died in 2009, at 59.

DeVille is one of the greatest “lost” artist in pop music history. Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Tom Waits, Boz Skaggs and Southside Johnny all cite him as a revered influence.

The film reflects his music and troubled life in detail. It includes interviews with Ben E. King, Chris Frantz, and J. Geils Band singer Peter Wolf.

The May 19 showing is free; click here to register. It will be followed by a Q&A monitored by Cioe, with Chris Frantz, and writers Nick Flynn and John Eskow.


Speaking of sounds: The Westport School of Music introduces listeners to the music and culture of India and Iraq this Saturday (May 13, 1 p.m., MoCA Westport).

The free concert features violinist Ameen Modad, who hid for 2 years and composed music secretly while Iraq was controlled by ISIS, and tabla player Nilanjan Bhowmik and his wife Dipita Chakraborty, a soprano. The couple will share stories and perform poems set to music by Nobel Prize-winning poet Tagore.


Wakeman Town Farm announced a 5-session A Child’s Pose yoga class on Saturday mornings, for youngsters 1 1/2 to 5 years old.

“Partner poses will strengthen and soothe both child and their grownup,” WTF says. Click here for more details, and to register.

Also at the Farm, and for kids: weekday afternoon “animal socials.”

Youngsters can snuggle, hold, brush and watch goats and lambs play.

It’s suitable for all ages; tickets required for anyone over the age of 1. Click here to select a date, register, and learn more.


Westporter Lewis Goldman died Tuesday, at home. He was 93 years old.

He graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, and earned degrees from City College of New York and Brooklyn Law School. During the Korean War, he served in the Army.

His family describes Lew as “a sweet, brilliant man, with a wicked sense of humor and a deep passion for learning.

He is survived by his wife Hedda; daughters Melissa of New York City and Amy of Novato, California; son David (Margo) of Santa Monica, California, and grandchildren Morgan Chapman, Andrew Goldman, and Alexa Goldman).

The family wishes thanks Karen Whittington, John Pounds, and others who cared for Lew in recent years.

A private burial took place at Temple Israel Cemetery. To share a condolence message, click here. Memorial contributions may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center.


Cathy Malkin thought this tree at the Winslow Park entrance might make an interesting “Westport … Naturally” feature.

She’s right!

(Photo/Cathy Malkin)


And finally … though Crispin Cioe’s next gig involves a movie he co-produced (story above), we can’t forget his music.

Here are a few selections, from our Westport neighbor:


Roundup: Ice Cream, Dog Fest, Plant Sale …

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

The Porch @ Christie’s ice cream hut opens today, next to the popular Cross Highway deli/coffee shop. They’ll serve from 2 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, noon to 5 p.m. weekends, all spring and summer long.

The Porch uses J Foster local small batch ice cream. Dairy-free sorbet is also available.

The Porch ice cream hut.


We’ve all gotten doggy bags at restaurants. We’ve also moved way past the fib of saying we’re taking the rest of our meal home to out dogs.

On Wednesday, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce volunteers filled 1,000 actual “doggy bags.”

They’re stuffed with free swag from sponsors of the annual Dog Festival. It’s set for Sunday (May 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Winslow Park.

Some of the treats will be for you. Many of them are actually, truly, honestly for Fido.

Stuffing doggy bags.


Can’t get to today’s Westport Garden Club plant sale on Jesup Green? (There’s still time: It ends at 1:30 p.m.). Forgot or otherwise missed it? Or maybe you just can’t get enough plants.

You’re in luck. Greens Farms Garden Club follows with their own plant sale and garden boutique tomorrow (Saturday, May 14). It’s 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sherman Green in Fairfield.

I don’t know of any plant sales on Sunday. Maybe you can spend the day planting.


CLASP — the great organization that runs group homes for adults with disabilities in Westport and other area towns — needs a few items.

To provide any from the list below — or donate funds toward their purchase — call 203-226-7895, ext. 144, or email rhammond@clasphomes.org.

  • ·     Gardening supplies (seeds, plants, soil, gloves, gardening tools)
  • ·     Yard décor (birdbaths or feeders, statues) and yard games
  • ·     Pop-up canopy with screens
  • ·     Gas grill
  • ·     Deck furniture
  • ·     Picnic table
  • ·     Carpeting
  • ·     Painting (interior and exterior).


Not long ago, Westport Police participated in the state’s distracted driving campaign. They nabbed dozens of drivers.

Now it’s time to buckle up.

They’re joining the state Department of Transportation “Click It or Ticket” campaign. Officers will be vigorously enforcing seat belt laws, for drivers and passengers.

Connecticut law requires that drivers and passengers in the front seat, regardless of the age, as well as all children under 16 anywhere in a vehicle, to wear seat belts. Fines start at $92 for the first offense. For more information, click here.


Westport resident Aiden Rourke has been selected as one of 8 Lawrenceville School Heely Scholars for the 2022-23 school year.  

The honor goes to rising 5th formers who demonstrate a keen interest and ability in American history.

Heely Scholars will spend 2 weeks this summer exploring World War II material in the school’s archives. In the fall they will take an advanced research seminar.


While walking his little coton dog down Burr School Road this week, Gregg Tenser saw a feathered friend take a close look back. Gregg wondered if he was sizing up the dog for breakfast.

Here’s a great “Westport … Naturally” shot of an intense look, from a perch in a tree.

(Photo/Gregg Tenser)


And finally … with all the plant sales going on today and tomorrow (see above), why not honor the greatest Plant of all?



Drew Friedman: One In Half A Million

Drew Friedman was a pillar of downtown Westport. A major landowner, a founder of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association and landlord of restaurants like Onion Alley, Bobby Q’s and Acqua, he influenced much of Main Street.

His holdings once included the original Westport Public Library building on the Post Road between Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza (now Starbucks and Freshii). He also owned Post Road property beyond downtown. And was a presence in Weston too, as the owner of Cobb’s Mill Inn.

He died in February 2016, at 86.

Drew Friedman and his wife Laura Papallo Friedman, at Cobb’s Mill Inn. (Photo/Patricia Gay)

Now Friedman is back in the news.

In his will, he left $500,000 to set up a “Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.”

But it’s not a place.

It’s a foundation.

Friedman’s former business partner Nick Visconti asked artist/photographer Miggs Burroughs — whose “Tunnel Vision” project is installed next to and across from some of Friedman’s former properties — and Visconti’s sister Louise Fusco to join him on the foundation board.

Their mission is to give $50,000 a year to one or more worthy artists and/or arts organizations and activities in Westport or Weston.

Nick Visconti, MIggs Burroughs and Louise Fusco announce the fulfillment of Drew Friedman’s dream.

So far, money has gone to Homes With Hope, CLASP Homes, the Westport Arts Center and Westport Historical Society. It will help fund art classes and activities for under-served students and young adults. This spring, an art exhibit will showcase all their work.

In addition, the foundation will award 2 scholarships, of $7,500 each, so high school students with need can attend an arts college, or art classes at a community college.

A special gala at the Westport Woman’s Club on May 17 will celebrate the arts program — and artists’ — great accomplishments.

Though not an artist himself, Friedman married one. His wife Bobbie created memorable works of art on canvas, and in clay and bronze, in a beautiful studio he built at their Westport home.

Now Bobby Q’s, Acqua and Cobb’s Mill are all gone.

So are Drew and Bobbie Friedman.

But thanks to his generosity and foresight, the arts — and artists — in Westport and Weston will live on for years.

(Candidates for Drew Friedman Community Arts Center scholarships should click here for more information.)

“A Taste Of Westport”: A Testament To CLASP

Tracy Flood grew up on South Compo Road — just down the street from CLASP’s Pine Drive house.

The raised ranch is home to 6 women — members of the long-time, low key organization that provides family environments for people with autism and intellectual disabilities.

CLASP’s Pine Drive home.

As a grad student in 1984, Tracy began working weekends at Pine Street. What started as a short-term job turned into a passion — and her calling.

Like many CLASP folks, she found an extended family among colleagues and residents.

Shortly after Tracy began her Pine Street job, her mother died. The residents swarmed her with hugs, and told her how beautiful she was. Their support helped her through a very tough time.

Tracy realized that being part of the CLASP family meant not only giving love, but receiving it back in volumes.

CLASP residents on a baseball outing.

More than 30 years later, Tracy is president of CLASP. The organization has grown to include 13 group homes. Four are in Westport: Pine Drive, Weston Road, Kings Highway and Sturges Highway. Residents — some of whom have lived there for decades — are deeply rooted in the community. They work, shop and play here, leading full, productive lives.

CLASP is one of those local organizations most Westporters are only vaguely aware of. Many don’t even know that the big spring event they always see signs for — A Taste of Westport — is CLASP’s major fundraiser.

It’s one you can really dig your teeth into.

Many of Westport’s finest restaurants offer specialty dishes. You can sample wine, beer and specialty cocktails — and end with dessert from Le Rouge Chocolates.

There’s music too, plus a silent auction.

All money raised goes directly to the residents. So they can continue to thrive — and give back the love they receive, to CLASP staffers and the entire community.

(A Taste of Westport is set for Thursday, May 4, 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Westport Inn. Participating restaurants and vendors include Amis, Black Bear Wines & Spirits, Bobby Q’s Cue & Co., Da Pietro’s, Dough & Co., El Segundo, Garelick & Herbs, Geronimo, Greens Farms Spirit Shop, Harvest, Hummock Island Oysters, Le Rouge Chocolates by Aarti, Little Pub, Matsu Sushi, Mionetto Prosecco, Pane e Bene, Pearl at Longshore, Rive Bistro, Tacos Mexico, Tarantino Restaurant, The Spread and Washington Prime. Click here for tickets and more information. 

Memorial Day 2012: Westport On Parade

Happy Memorial Day!
Who doesn’t love a parade?

The start of the parade.

Al’s Angels — one of the many civic organizations to march (or ride).

The Y’s Men’s float was, as usual, spectacular. This one honored Korean War veterans — complete with freezing mist.

Middle school musicians keep the beat.

Buck Iannacone (left), this year’s grand marshal, poses with his son and granddaughter. Buck’s great-grandchild was born 10 days ago.

CLASP celebrated 30 years of service to people with disabilities.

Staples junior Tyler Jent sings “America the Beautiful,” framed by the doughboy statue and flag at half-staff.

The next generation celebrates past ones.