Tag Archives: “Feliz Navidog”

Roundup: Wakeman Tree, Snow Day, Feliz Navidog, More

The annual Wakeman Town Farm Christmas tree lighting celebration — a fun family affair filled with music, a bonfire and homemade treats — was one more victim of COVID.

But the tree is still lit!

Bill Constantino (a Wakeman relative), WTF steward John Montoni and Bert Porzio’s great tree company made sure of that.

“We see it as a beacon of light and hope,” Wakeman Town Farm says.

Westporters can enjoy it — from the safety of their cars — any evening.

Or you can just appreciate it here:


Just a thought:

With substantial snow predicted for Wednesday night, does that mean there’s a possible school snow day on Thursday?

Or with everyone now used to distance learning, will officials simply say, “Everyone work from home!”?

If that’s the case, then the end of snow days — a wonderful winter tradition — could be an unintended (and really bad) long-lasting COVID consequence.

Winslow Park snow day, March 4, 2019. (Photo/Molly Alger)

Last month, “06880” featured “Feliz Navidog.” The picture book by Ari Halper and his Saugatuck Elementary School daughter tells the tale of how Santa’s pet dog saves Christmas. (I won’t give the ending away. But it’s a quick read.)

Sales skyrocketed. Among the purchasers: Lori Levine van Arsdale.

She’s not the only one enjoying the book. Watson van Arsdale seems to have found a kindred canine under the tree.

(Photo/Lori Levine van Arsdale)

Yesterday I posted 2 photos of last night’s spectacular sunset. This morning I added 2 more.

All were taken by (or on) the water.

But nature’s beauty was on display all over town.

Chuck and Mimi Greenlee live way north (well, near Merritt Parkway Exit 41, anyway).

Here’s their view:

(Photo/Chuck Greenlee)

And finally … here’s a salute to Raymond Egan. He wrote songs for vaudeville and Broadway, from World War I through the Roaring ’20s and depressed ’30s.

Egan lived in Westport, and died here in 1952, age 61. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

Among his tunes: the 1921 foxtrot “Ain’t We Got Fun,” “Kaiser Bill,” “You’re as Welcome as the Flowers in May,” and the gruesomely titled, absolutely non-PC “Mammy’s Little Coal Black Rose.”

Fun Fact #1: Egan’s song “Hand in Hand Again” was remixed and covered by Midnight Syndicate on their album “The 13th Hour” in 2005.

Fun Fact #2: Egan’s son Ron, who grew up in Westport, is now a professor of East Asian languages and cultures at Stanford University.

(Hat tip: John Kelley)

Feliz Navidog!

Ari Halper is an advertising creative director.

very creative director. He developed the E*Trade Baby, made a short film with Ron Howard that shortlisted at the Oscars, and won an Emmy for his work on Canon. These days, the Westporter heads his own creative consultancy, Sauce.

Halper’s daughter Reya sure inherited his creative genes.

Last year at Christmas, the Saugatuck Elementary School student picked up their black goldendoodle’s paw. Reya began singing: “Feliz Navidog.”

Halper asked about her take on our Weston neighbor Jose Feliciano’s lovable holiday anthem. “That’s Santa’s dog,” Reya replied.

The creative director’s creative brain kicked in. Reya loves to read! What a great idea for a children’s book!

Ari and Reya Halper, and their goldendoodle.

Most people would leave it there. Halper — and his daughter — are not most people.

Over the next several weeks they wrote several drafts. It was fun. And, they realized, they had a salable product.

As they searched for a publisher — and Halper stresses this was a collaborative effort, with Reya providing plenty of input — they realized how big and unwieldy the children’s book world is.

They eventually discovered a children’s self-publishing group. The control and speed of that option appealed to them. Halper went to a writer’s workshop, educating himself on the ins and outs (aka the challenges and perils) of self-publishing.

There were many.

One was finding help. They found one through Reedsy, an online site matching authors with professionals.

“She was great,” Halper reports. “I wanted the book to be very Dr. Seuss-ish. Anapestic tetrameter is very regimented. She really held me to meter.”

The next task was finding an illustrator. Halper and Reyna settled on a woman who clearly understood the concept.

She lives in Mumbai. Fortunately, the internet shrinks the world. Unfortunately, the time difference made their collaboration less than instantaneous.

In July — just as the project neared its end — someone asked Halper if Rudolph was in the public domain. The world-famous reindeer was a central character in “Feliz Navidog.”

Turns out there are still 7 years left in Rudolph’s copyright. Turns out also though that Rudolph’s management is controlled by Character Arts. The company is based right next door in Wilton.

Aha! Halper thought. What an in!

He told them his tale. It was the middle of the pandemic; people were looking for a feel-good story. He added some personal details. How about licensing the rights to Rudolph?

Halper got “a categorial ‘no.'”

Christmas was coming (at least, in the book publishing world). What to do?

Fortunately, every other character in the book — Santa, Mrs. Claus, the 8 non-Rudolph reindeer — are all fair game.

Halper and Reya devised a new hook. They rewrote the book. The illustrator redid 10 of the book’s 40 pages. Just like Rudolph’s guided sleigh ride, everything worked out in the end.

Of course, it still was not easy. Normally a book like this would be printed overseas. But COVID complicated matters. Printing was done in the US — at a higher cost.

The hardcover version should be available any day. The paperback and e-book versions are live now, on Amazon.

Oh, yeah: The plot. It’s Christmas, and Pittsburgh is covered in a terrible fog. Even worse, the reindeer all get sick and can’t fly. When all hope seems lost, Feliz Navidog — Santa’s pet — raises his paw to help.

The book’s lesson is all about overcoming obstacles. The father-daughter author team sure did.

Here’s wishing them much success.

And, of course, Feliz Navidad.

(To order “Feliz Navidog: The Story of How Santa’s Pet Dog Saved Christmas — click here. To learn more, click here. Hat tip: Jerri Graham)