Tag Archives: Debra Kandrak

Roundup: Motorcycles, Daffodils, Kelli O’Hara …

For 21 years, Stacie Curran and friends have ridden in the CT United Ride. The largest motorcycle ride in Connecticut pays tribute to the victims and first responders of 9/11.

Yesterday’s event took place on the actual date: September 11. Before the start at Sherwood Island, the group met at Stacie’s house:

The entire group — hundreds strong — gathered at the state park:

(Photo/Tom Lowrie)

Soon — with a police escort from several towns — they headed onto I-95. Their route of remembrance took them to Exit 17, Riverside Avenue, Wilton Road, and through 8 other Fairfield County towns.

(Photo copyright by Ted Horowitz)

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Every year, the arrival of spring in Westport is heralded by the “Daffodil Mile” — the long, winding rows of daffodils at Willowbrook Cemetery on Main Street.

Daffodil Mile, at Willowbrook Cemetery … (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

For the past few years, daffodils have also bloomed throughout the rest of Westport. On Prospect Road, in Saugatuck, in traffic islands everywhere, the week of yellow flowers brings smiles to Westporters sick and tired of snow and slush.

Greens Farms Road, at Prospect Road.

Those daffodils don’t just fall from the sky (to mix metaphors). They’re the product of plenty of planning — and planting.

“Paint the Town Yellow” is a project begun 4 years ago by Debra Kandrak. This fall — prime daffodil-planting time — she encourages everyone, of all ages, to plant “around our neighborhoods, around street signs, mailbox posts, in front of your business, in front of the Police and Fire Departments.” She’d love for schools to be involved too.

This year’s theme is “plant in memory of a loved one lost.”

The easiest way to plant, Debra says, is to dig a trench and pop the bulbs in (pointy side up). Costco sells 50 bulbs for $13.99.

After you plant, email the location to debra.kandrak@raveis.com. She’ll come around next spring, and take photos.

Which, of course, she will share with “06880.”

So get going. Spring is only 7 months away.

Daffodil bulbs from Costco. (Photo/Debra Kandrak)

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The New York Times says that this November’s Metropolitan Opera staged premiere of “The Hours” is “New York City’s opera event of the fall.”

In addition to renowned soprano Renée Fleming, it stars Kelli O’Hara. The Times calls the Westport resident “a Tony Award-decorated musical theater actress with opera bona fides (even at the Met, where she was a standout as Despina in Mozart’s ‘Così Fan Tutte’).”

That’s part of the intro to an interview published yesterday with Fleming, O’Hara and Joyce DiDonato.

Click here for the full (and very interesting) piece.

Kelli O’Hara (Photo/Thea Traff for New York Times)

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Every Staples High School reunion is a cause for celebration and remembrance.

COVID caused the Class of 1980 to wait an extra 2 years to gather for their 40th. But as they got together last month (and shook their heads that they’re all now 60 years old, or about to be) they turned their thoughts to classmate Susan Lloyd.

The popular, always-active native Westporter was diagnosed with cancer as a senior. She passed away while at Colgate University. Her parents and friends created the Susan Fund in her honor. For 4 decades, it has provided important educational scholarships to Fairfield County students diagnosed with cancer.

Ten years ago, the reunion class raised $2,300 for the Susan Fund. This year, they contributed $5,500.

Kelly Frey Pollard — Susan’s good friend, and a Susan Fund board member — created a beautiful display, with letters from classmates to Susan and her family during her battle with cancer. Classmates were encouraged to take their letters home, as mementoes.

Over 130 alumni attended the reunion. A 45th is planned for 2025 — with another contribution to the Susan Fund. To find out, more follow the “Staples Class 1980” Facebook page, or email Amy Potts: amy@aapk.com,

The Class of 1980 display, of cards and letters sent to Susan Lloyd.

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The Westport Woman’s Club big clothing tag sale is next month. They’re getting ready — which means, they need items to sell.

Tax-deductible donations of new or gently-worn women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, and accessories like shoes, handbags, scarves, hats and jewelry, can be dropped off weekdays (9 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4 p.m.) at the WWC (44 Imperial Avenue).

Funds raised from this clothing tag sale support the town food closet, local charities throughout Fairfield County, and student scholarships.

The clothing tag sale is set for October 28-29 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and October 30 (noon to 3 p.m.). For more information, call 203-227-4240 or email  wwc@westportwomansclub.org.

Westport Woman’s Club tag sale.

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Longtime Westporter Geoffrey Hooper died last week. He was 87 years old.

He was born in Victoria, British Columbia. After serving in the Canadian Air Force he met his first wife, Jeannette Lauzon, and moved to Connecticut to work for his father-in-law at Stamford Typesetting Corporation. In 1976 he bought the company with a partner, Frank DeBartolo.

At Stamford Type Geoff was a force to be reckoned with as a typesetter, salesman, accountant, proofreader and generous employer. He loved taking clients out charter fishing from Old Saybrook, and delivering bags of bluefish fillets to clients and friends. As the business changed from linotype to computers to desktop publishing and scanning, he kept up with all the new technologies.

When his children were growing up in Westport, Geoff was active in the Westport Community Theater and other acting groups. 

After retiring in 2008 he spent most of his time at his favorite place: home. Geoff was a talented gardener who always grew too many seedlings, but was happy to share them with family and friends. He enjoyed reading, cooking, traveling, theatergoing, and the YMCA’s water aerobics classes.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Suzy; his brother Murray (Barbara); his children and their partners Debbie (Norman), Lynne (Gary), Geoff Jr. (Susan) and Kenneth (Kim); his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; his brother- and sister-in-law, Ken Solomon and Janice Lakey, and many other relatives and friends.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to a cause of your choice.

Geoff Hooper, in the water.

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Last March, 3 dolphins hung out for a few days in Bermuda Lagoon, by Saugatuck Shores.

Westport architect Peter Cadoux did not see them. In all his years has boating on Long Island Sound, in fact, he has not seen a single dolphin.

Yesterday he made up for that. Peter was awed by a pod of about 100 dolphins, cavorting a couple of miles off Smithtown Bay. That’s almost directly across the water from Westport.

Here’s a close-up, for today’s fascinating “Westport … Naturally” feature:

(Photos/Peter Cadoux)

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And finally … in honor of the pod of dolphins, last seen frolicking in Long Island Sound:

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(Without “06880,” would you know there were dolphins right off our coast? Please click here, to help us continue to bring you all the stories of where Westport meets the world.)

It’s That Time Again: Paint The Town Yellow!

It’s early October. Fall will soon hit full force, with a spectacular array of colors. It’s Westport’s most gorgeous time of year — rivaled only by spring, 6 months from now.

As the leaves turn, Debra Kandrak is thinking about daffodils.

It’s time, she says, to “paint the town yellow.”

Rotary at Church Lane and Myrtle Avenue (Photo/Dan Woog)

Kandrak is the woman behind the town’s 4th annual daffodil-planting project. Her efforts over the past 3 years have resulted in an explosion of flowers, from neighborhoods like Greens Farms to the Westport Library, Cribari Bridge, traffic island and the entrances to Staples High and Bedford Middle Schools.

Groups like the Westport Garden Club and National Charity League have helped. But Kandrak is the driving force, helping the project, um, flower.

Willowbrook Cemetery daffodils (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

This year’s theme is “In Memory of a Loved One Lost.” Kandrak encourages Westporters to plant flowers to honor those who died in the pandemic — or any other time.

Kandrak also hopes to plant a Memory Garden for Layla Malon, the young child killed last June. She is looking for ideas for an appropriate site.

Meanwhile, she urges Westporters to plant daffodils wherever they can. Sites include roadsides in front of homes, around mailboxes and street signs, in front of businesses, or anywhere else needing a pop of color.

(Photo/Scott Smith)

Kandrak’s goal is for Westport to have an annual Daffodil Festival, like Nantucket’s.

For now, please email debra.kandrak@raveis.com. Let her know where you’ve planted your flowers. Next spring — just 6 months from now — she’ll take a photo.

Sherwood Island Connector, at the Post Road. (Photos courtesy of Debra Kandrak)

Daffodils Thrill

After last fall’s 2nd annual “Paint the Town Yellow” campaign, organizers were pleased.

All over Westporter, groups and individual gardeners had planted daffodils.

Now — as the bulbs sprout — they are really happy.

So are the rest of us — even those who don’t realize where so many beautiful flowers came from.

Prospect Road — with 7,000 daffodils — is particularly gorgeous. Melissa and John Ceriale invite anyone to clip a bouquet in front of #11, 13, 21 and 25, to give to someone who has been bullied — or stopped a bully. (Please take them from the road only — not the garden beyond the stone wall!)

Prospect Road

Also last fall, the National Charity League placed daffodils around the trees at the entrance to Staples High School.

Staples High School

Nearby, parents and children planted them in front of then Bedford Middle School entry drive too.

Bedford Middle School

The Westport Garden Club put daffodils around the Westport Library. “Paint the Town Yellow” organizer Debra Kandrak did the same in front of the pine trees along the William F. Cribari Bridge.

William F. Cribari Bridge

Other residents planted in front of their homes and around their neighborhood.

One Greens Farms scene …

… and another.

“Everywhere I drive, I see a burst of yellow. It makes me smile!” Debra says.

She wonders if one day Westport could have a Daffodil Festival.

Why not? It would sure make other towns green with envy.

Greens Farms Road, at Prospect …

… and the Sherwood Island Connector. (All photos/Debra Kandrak)

Paint The Town Yellow — Again!

Last fall, Debra Kandrak had an idea.

She wanted everyone in town to plant daffodils.

“Imagine driving through Westport and seeing thousands of daffodils around mailboxes, on the roadside, in front of stores,” she said. “It would be so pretty. And they can be in honor of loved ones, so they’re even more meaningful.”

She got commercial landlord David Waldman on board. Laurelrock and Northeast Horticulture, which maintain several traffic islands, joined in. So did the Westport Garden Club, town officials, businesses, and plenty of random Westporters.

A collage of daffodils.

As she drove around last spring — when the town was laid low by the coronavirus — Debra was heartened to see thousands of new daffodils.

The residents on Soundview Drive had planted hundreds of beautiful flowers along the beach exit road. Project Return planted them in front of their North Compo shelter. They sprouted in front of The Learning Community School on Hillspoint Road, at the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, and at dozens of other spots, both public and private.

The Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown.

Now, Debra announced the 2nd annual “Paint the Town Yellow” campaign. This year’s theme: Every daffodil represents a stand against bullying.

“Bullying destroys lives,” Debra says. “It chips away at someone’s self-esteem. As you plant flowers with your children, teach them empathy, not excess.

“Our country is in turmoil. Let Westport, show the world that we practice kindness, compassion and empathy. We can do this!”

Debra asks residents, committees, businesses and the town of Westport to plant daffodils “in front of your home, around the mailbox post, by street signs, at your store or office — everywhere!”

She would love to see schools get involved. (Parents can donate daffodils, she suggests).

Sherwood Island Connector, at the Post Road. (Photos courtesy of Debra Kandrak)

Last spring, when we desperately needed to be uplifted, daffodils did the trick. No one knows what this spring will bring.

Except many more daffodils.

(To contact Debra directly, email Debra.Kandrak@raveis.com)

Paint The Town Yellow!

This is peak fall foliage time. The wonder of nature is on display all over town. It’s an amazing, spectacular, all-too-brief moment that makes us realize, yeah, Westport really is someplace special.

So why is Debra Kandrak thinking of daffodils?

The yellow bulbs are an early sign of spring. But they’re planted in autumn. Debra wants Westporters to plant thousands of them soon.

A while back, she started a memory garden on her property, in honor of loved ones lost.

She has hundreds of daffodils, and adds more each year. Just when winter seems to drag drearily on,up they pop. (And even if it snows again, they survive. They’re a lot tougher than they look!)

Debra would like to see daffodils everywhere — not just on her property, Willowbrook Cemetery and random other spots.

“Daffodil Mile” at Willowbrook Cemetery.

She’s started a campaign: “Paint the Town Yellow.” If residents, business owners and town officials participate, she says, “it would be a beautiful thing.”

Both literally and figuratively.

“Imagine driving through Westport and seeing thousands of daffodils around mailboxes, on the roadside, in front of stores,” she says. “It would be so pretty. And they can be in honor of loved ones, so they’re even more meaningful.”

She reached out to landlords David Waldman and Roger Leifer. They’re on board. So are Laurelrock and Northeast Horticulture, which maintain several traffic islands.

Debra is waiting to hear back from the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, and Parks & Rec.

Haskins Preserve’s daffodils and dogwoods — a lovely combination.

Now is the perfect time to plant daffodils. So as soon as you finish raking leaves, put some bulbs in the earth.

Then grab some apple cider, light a fire, and wait till spring. It will be worth it.

PS: Debra says that daffodils are deer-proof. There’s no better reason to start planting now!