Tag Archives: Great Duck Race

Duck!

A large crowd gathered at Jesup Green today, for the annual running of the ducks.

(Photo/Matthew Mandell)

The Sunrise Rotary Club fundraiser returned live, after 2 COVID years. Proceeds go toward the organization’s many service projects, in Fairfield County and around the globe.

Warm-up activities included older kids …

Rebecca Yormark (shown with her mother Diane) built and raced her own “duck car.”

… and younger ones.

Grace Waldman is all in. (Photo/Mark Mathias)

Then Sunrise Rotary volunteers got to work …

(Photo/Matthew Mandell)

… and the race was on!

(Photo/Matthew Mandell)

Janet Mittleman won the $5,000 grand prize.

Runners-up — also winning substantial cash awards — were Nick Battaglino, Anna Brady, Rob Graham, Alexander Strompen, Tracey Cauley, Wen Hsu, Rady Johnson, Jason Wolgast and Silvia Durno.

They’re probably all out celebrating now.

At the Duck?

Roundup: Affordable Housing; Car Thefts, Traffic, Tax …

The Planning and Zoning Commission adopted a 5-year affordable housing plan last night. The bipartisan vote was 5-0, with 2 abstentions.

Highlights include:

Creating a new affordable community designed specifically for families.

• The formation of a town-funded Affordable Housing Trust Fund to direct resources towards future development of affordable housing.

• The immediate development of location specific plans for town-owned land to meaningfully expand and/or renovate existing rental housing/structures to create affordable housing, and potentially partner with nonprofits engaged in this work.

• Allocation of the approximately $1,700,000 in the town’s Real Property Fund to acquire land for future development of affordable housing.

• The deed restriction of existing town-owned rental properties so that they are affordable and remain affordable to renters.

• The adoption of a new zoning district at Powell Place to ensure that existing deeply affordable housing (40% State Median Income or less) can be more intensively redeveloped with flexible parking requirements reflecting the availability of public lots nearby.

There is much more in the 5-year plan. Click here for a full “06880” report.

Part of the 5-year affordable housing plan envisions a “model pocket neighborhood/cottage commons” design. (Courtesy of Ross Chapin AIA)

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You’d think by now everyone would have gotten the message.

Nope. Here’s the latest Groundhog Day news from the Westport Police Department:

On Saturday, several cars were broken into. All were unlocked. Go figure.

This often happens at night. However, these crimes occurred in late afternoon and early evening.

The WPD once again reminds Westporters to lock your cars and bring your keys or fobs inside. And never leave valuables — cash purses, wallets, electronics — in your car.

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The Police Department also offers this advice, for the June 30th fireworks:

Spectators should arrive early. Traffic delays are inevitable.

Compo Beach closes at 4 p.m. Only vehicles with fireworks passes can remain.  Parks & Recreation staff will collect passes. The beach should reopen to ticket holders by 5 p.m.

Vehicles with tickets can access the beach through South Compo Road only. Hillspoint Road south of Greens Farms Road will be open to residents who live south of that intersection.

Firework attendees should display their ticket prominently on the dashboard. It will be collected at the parking gate.

All ticket holders must be inside Compo Beach by 9 p.m.  No beach traffic will be allowed south of the Minute Man monument after that time.

Vehicles without tickets will not be allowed any further toward Compo Beach than the Minute Man.

Uber, Lyft or taxi users will be directed straight past the Minute Man, on Compo Road South. They can be dropped off at Soundview Drive. Return service will not be available until after 11 p.m., due to 1-way traffic leaving the beach.

When the fireworks end, there will be 2 lanes of 1-way traffic only on Compo Beach Road and South Compo, to the intersection of Greens Farms Road. Residents of that area returning from elsewhere should expect a delay of 1 hour or so.

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The fun doesn’t end with the fireworks. On Saturday, July 9, Westport Sunrise Rotary’s Great Duck Race returns. There’s a new location — Jesup Green — but the same family fun.

The day begins with a 10 a.m. Fun Fair in the Westport Library parking lot. Activities include a Nerdy Derby, face painting and bubble machines.

At 1 p.m. on Jesup Green, 3,000 plastic ducks will slide down a 160-foot sluice course. Each wears a number, matching a $20 raffle ticket. The first 10 ducks down the course win money for their ticket holders. First place is $5,000. Second place wins $1,000. The next 8 finishers get $500 each.

The event is a major Sunrise Rotary fundraiser. Proceeds support charitable endeavors in this area, the state and around the world.

Click here for tickets, and to learn more about Sunrise Rotary. 

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When Dick Lowenstein received his 2022-23 tax bill yesterday, he was surprised to see that the gross assessment had risen on his 2 vehicles. The dollar amounts were not huge, but the percentages were: 29% higher for his 2002 Lexus, 11% for his 2014 Honda CRV.

He called tax assessor Paul Friia. The immediate response: Gross assessment is based on standard information provided to the assessor. “Presumably, because of supply shortages, new car production has been delayed. Many people are instead buying used cars, which has driven up their value,” Dick reports.

I wonder what this Maserati will be assessed at next year. (Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

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Yesterday’s rain postponed the Remarkable Theater showing of “Caddyshack.” The new date is Monday, July 11 (8:30 p.m.; gates open at 7:30 p.m.).

Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Our “Westport … Naturally” feature is open to everyone. We run photos of anything “natural” in town: animals, birds, flowers, trees — you name it. If it lives, we want to showcase it.

We are especially interested in images from young readers. Today we welcome 15-year-old Benji Porosoff, who captured this scene:

(Photo/Benji Porosoff)

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And finally … on this day in 1969, the Stonewall riots began in New York. The uprising — sparked by a police raid on the Stonewall Inn gay bar — is considered the start of the LGBTQ rights movement.

Ten years later, Diana Ross commissioned Chic founder (and current Westporter) Nile Rodgers to create material for her new album. One song was inspired after he saw drag queens dressed as Diana Ross at a New York club. It is now considered an anthem of the LGBTQ community.

(“06880” is supported solely by readers. Please click here to contribute.)

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pic Of The Day #775

A few of the many ducks preparing for today’s Sunrise Rotary Club Great Race. Did yours win? (Photo/Dan Woog)

Well, It Sure Didn’t Take Long For The Duck To Face Plant Itself This Year

“Sunny” — the enormous yellow duck that serves as great PR for the Sunrise Rotary Club’s annual Great Duck Race — was inflated yesterday on Jesup Green.

Usually it takes a few days — after it’s been moved to the Saugatuck River — for it to topple over.

This year: less than 24 hours.

(Photo/Richard Hyman)

(Photo/Aya Camp)

If you’re wondering: This year’s race is Saturday, June 1 (11 a.m., Parker Harding Plaza). Click here for tickets, and more information.

Westport’s Goal: A World Record Duck

Each spring, a giant inflatable duck floats in the Saugatuck River. It’s a fun, funny promotion for the Sunrise Rotary Club’s Great Duck Race.

This spring, he gets a companion.

On April 27, the 8th annual Maker Faire features a Great Duck Project. Attendees will try to set a world record for the largest 3D printed duck.

It’s “the first of its kind global crowd-sourcing science and art initiative,” says Mark Mathias. He’s the founder of the Westport’s Maker Faire, and a Sunrise Rotary member.

Artist’s rendering of the 6-foot 3D duck.

“Global” is no exaggeration. People from around the world are invited to 3D print and submit pieces. They’ll be combined into a 6-foot tall, 476-piece duck.

Mathias takes “around the world” literally. He reached out to the McMurdo station in Antarctica, to see if they’ll participate.

He even went galactic, asking if the International Space Station could print a part, then return it to earth on a supply mission. (Party-pooping NASA said no.)

But keeping the Great Duck Project terrestrial should be interesting enough.

Don’t have your own 3D printer? No sweat. There are plenty around, in libraries, schools and offices.

Once the world-record duck is printed, it won’t disappear. You can see it at the Memorial Day parade — and, of course, the Great Duck Race.

Quack!

(The Great Duck Project is a collaboration of the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club and Greens Farms Academy, which serves as the “technical lead.” For more information or to participate, click here. or contact Mark Mathias: mark@remarkablesteam.org; 203-226-1791.)

Pic Of The Day #418

Crowds line Parker Harding Plaza for the start of today’s Great Duck Race. Nearly 3,000 plastic yellow ducks are corraled at the north end of the Saugatuck River. The event is a major fundraiser for Westport’s Sunrise Rotary Club. (Drone photo/Ryan Felner)

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A bird’s-eye view of the Great Duck Race duck …

… and a wider-angle duck (Drone photos/Ben Berkley)

Pic Of The Day #403

Double duck on the Saugatuck (Photo/Patricia McMahon)