Tomorrow (October 30, 2021) is the deadline for Fairfield County non-profits to apply for a grant from the Westport Woman’s Club. They go to deserving groups working in education, health and safety, and the arts.
Applications are being accepted too for a one-time use of their clubhouse, for an event.
Typed proposals should be sent — postmarked by tomorrow — to: Westport Woman’s Club, Attn.: Community Service Grant, 44 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT 06880.
For more information, call 203-227-4240 or click here.
The Westport Woman’s Club on Imperial Avenue is giving out grants — and offering the use of its clubhouse for an event.
Craig Schmarr, the Westport Public Schools’ supervisor of building operations, died yesterday morning at Bridgeport Hospital. He served the district for over 27 years, in a variety of capacities. A full obituary will appear later.
Once upon a time, Halloween was a hallowed — and very neighborly — holiday.
Some kids wore mom-made costumes. Others had store-bought masks. The younger ones went out with parents. But everyone 8-ish or older roamed their road, and one or two nearby, on their own.
They scarfed up as much candy as they could, in an hour or so. A few pennies were collected for UNICEF. Sometimes a pumpkin got smashed, an egg tossed.
Then the arms race began. Costumes grew more elaborate. Parents drove their kids to Westport’s densest neighborhoods,* maximizing the candy-to-ground-covered ratio.
Adults joined in the fun, opening their homes (and liquor cabinets) to friends and srangers chaperoning ever-older trick-or-treaters. With so many parents (and security cameras) around now, kids have no idea how to smash a pumpkin or toss an egg.
Last year, the pandemic threw Halloween for a loop. Would trick-or-treating on crowded streets turn into a super-spreader event? Was it dangerous to grab candy from a communal bowl? Wasn’t everyone sick of wearing masks,, anyway?
Some parents said: Go for it. Kids have lost so much already, let’s not take away Halloween.
Others said: Not this year. COVID before candy.
Which brings us to Halloween 2021. The virus still lurks here. Many in their prime candy-grabbing years have not yet been vaccinated. What’s a parent to do?
Full steam ahead? Only with friends? Sorry — no candy this year, kids?
“06880” wants to know how your family is handling Halloween. Click “Comments” below.
Whatever your choice — and speaking now as an adult, not a youngster — let’s hope it does not involve eggs.
At least, not at my house.
* If you don’t know where, I’m not going to tell you.
In the winter of 2020. Jeff Manchester emailed “06880.” He was concerned about the “incredibly dumb placement” of a utility pole at the southwest corner of the Post Road West/Riverside Avenue intersection. He sent this photo:
Jeff warned: “It will surely result in a wedged tractor trailer at the intersection (trying to get back to I-95), or worse yet a fatality into the pole.”
There’s been no fatality yet. But yesterday, Jeff saw a bad accident right there. The pole leaned precariously against the building, as police and utility workers were figuring out what to do.
Moving forward, it’s a state road. The decision — to move the pole, or do something to the road — is in the Department of Transportation’s hands.
On Saturday afternoon, 5 paintings were unveiled in the walkway to Bedford Square off Main Street. “Westport Illustrated” portrays the history — and future — of Westport.
The mural project is a collaboration between the Westport Arts Advisory Committee, David Adam Realty and Charter Realty & Development, with support from the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.
From right to left: Eric Chiang, “A Vibrant New Community Unfurls”; Iyaba Ibo Mandigo, “The Ground Beneath Their Feet”; Hernan Garcia, “The Tides of Change”‘ Jana Ireijo,. “Keeping Memories Alive”; Rebecca Ross (Westport) “Westport of the Future: Circa 2070.”
Alert “06880” readers know that Jeera Thai is one of my favorite restaurants. The fresh ingredients, wonderful spices and special flavors — all lovingly prepared — make every meal a treat.
Now my go-to spot is open 7 days a week.
They’ve announced 3 new weekly specials, too:
• Prawn phat phong karee กุ้งผัดผงกระหรี่
• Basil fried rice ข้าวผัดกระเพาะกุ้ง
• Panang curry with chicken แพนงไก่
Jeera Thai — across from Design Within Reach, next to Finalmente — is easy to overlook. But you shouldn’t!
Jeera Thai, nestled in a small space off the Post Road.
A “Roundup” item last week about the Westport Astronomical Society‘s observance of Observe the Moon Night impelled Paul Delano to head to the observatory on Bayberry Lane.
He reports: “Everyone was very friendly and knowledgeable. Quite a few people were checking out the view. It was a beautiful sky and great to use the telescopes to see the planets. It’s at the highest point in Westport, so it has a great view of the sky. That night the moon, Jupiter and Saturn were the brightest.
“I got a new camera and telephoto lens recently that I wanted to try out. They let me set up my tripod and camera. I was surprised I could see so much more than the naked eye.”
Paul sent along a couple of photos:
Westport Astronomical Observatory, and the moon. (Photo/Paul Delano)
A first-ever International Market & Festival is set this Saturday (October 23, noon to 5 p.m.) at Lachat Town Farm in Weston.
It features include vendors representing various countries, cultural music and dance, and markets with food from countries like Italy, France, Kenya, Pakistan, Brazil, Peru, India, Japan, Romania and Mexico. Children will receive a “passport” they can fill up as they visit each exhibit.
Tickets are $20 per family. Click here for more information.
Westport celebrates jUNe Day. This Saturday, Weston hosts its own International & Festival. (Photo/Jeff Simon)
Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is all about dogwood berries. Scott Smith writes:
“We all get festive celebrating the blossoming of our lovely native dogwood trees early each spring. But Cornus florida deserves a special shoutout this fall.
“The profusion of red berries is the most vibrant I can recall. Whether it’s the summer that just won’t quit or the autumn that can’t get started, I don’t know, but I’m enjoying it.
“So too are the many birds that flock to this windfall of nutrient-rich berries. Robins in particular squabble over the berry-laden dogwood in my yard, even though there’s more than enough to go around. Let’s hope the birds spread the seeds of these treats far and wide.”
And finally … Peter Tosh was born today in 1944. From 1963 to 1976 he, Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer were the heart of the reggae band the Wailers. He then became a successful solo artist. He was killed in 1987 during a home invasion, at age 42.
You can tell Halloween is coming. CVS, Walgreens, Party Harty and pop-ups are chock full of ghosts and skeletons — plus Kit Kats, Hershey bars and other fine foods, most of them the size of small planets.
It’s a great time to be a kid.
Unless you’re allergic.
When Blake Hofmeister was 3 1/2, he ate an M&M. In a delayed reaction he broke out in hives, and could barely breathe. Tests showed he was allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish.
His mom, Lisa, learned to scrutinize food labels. Now a 1st grader at Kings Highway Elementary School, his life — and his family’s — has never been the same.
The Hofmeister family.
A year ago Lisa heard about FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education). The non-profit works to improve the quality of life of people with food allergies.
Last month, she helped organize a charity walk/fun day at Sherwood Island. The event drew hundreds, and raised over $150,000.
Now — as Halloween nears — Lisa is focused on her next effort: the Teal Pumpkin Project.
The national initiative promotes the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters in a holiday that excludes some.
Participation is simple. Parents are encouraged to buy inexpensive toys, rather than candy. They place a teal pumpkin or sign from FARE outside the home, indicating there are non-food treats inside.
“Parents are surprised how easy this is,” Lisa says.
Blake (Chewy) and Paisley (Minnie Mouse) Hofmeister enjoy Halloween last year.
Kings Highway has gotten on board. A “Pumpkin Palooza” fundraiser the Friday before Halloween includes magicians, music and other non-candy fun.
“Halloween used to be my favorite holiday,” says Lisa. “I loved the costumes, the candy, everything about it. Now I’m so nervous.”
She loves welcoming trick-or-treaters to her Old Hill neighborhood home. Last year, participating for the first time in the Teal Pumpkin Project, she was excited that many children — even those without food allergies — chose toys over candy.
“I want Blake to enjoy Halloween, like other kids,” she says. “I don’t want him to feel like an outsider.”
FARE makes it easy to take part. The website provides links to resources, including flyers, yard signs, ideas for non-food treats, and a trick-or-treat bag.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is not the food police. Giving candy is still okay.
But for kids with food allergies — as well as celiac disease and other issues — it can be a life-saver.
In the Compo Beach neighborhood — where densely packed houses draw chauffeured trick-or-treaters from across Westport (and waaaay beyond)* — Halloween is not orange.
It’s black or white. You either love it (and embrace it). Or you hate it (and go dark).
“Dark is for wimps,” Betsy Kahn says. “We completely go with it.”
“Completely” is right. Here’s what her Danbury Avenue home looked like before the hordes of Halloweenies descended.
This is the 3rd year in a row Betsy and her husband Dan have “decorated” their house with a theme. In 2011, the “ship” was buried in snow. Last year, Hurricane Sandy’s surging seawater made the “ship” a little too realistic.
But Betsy and Dan loved the boat so much, they dismantled it and saved it for another (non-rainy) day.
“Halloween at the beach is our favorite night of the year,” Betsy says. No word on whether she and Dan dressed up. If they did, I’m sure they were pirates.
*There’s a reason this story is running the day after Halloween. If I posted this yesterday, Compo would have been even more overrun than usual. Neighborhood holiday-haters would have spewed their venom on me.
It’s been 3 years since Westport has celebrated a proper Halloween.
Last year’s holiday was knocked silly by Superstorm Sandy.
The year before, it was a big-ass late-October snowstorm.
When you’re a little kid — say, 5 or 6 — 3 years is a long time. You can’t remember to tie your shoes or where you put your juice pack, so recalling what Halloween is like — forget it.
Today, Westport children may need a little ‘splainin’. You know: the hows and whys of this peculiarly American holiday. Tell them:
It may not seem like it, but Halloween is for kids. Once upon a time, parents’ involvement was simple. Mom sewed a goblin costume, while Dad checked the loot for razors hidden in apples. Nowadays, it’s much more complicated. Mom buys intricate costumes, while Dad sets up a bar to serve all the other moms and dads as they accompany their kids everywhere. It’s a stress-filled day.
Oh, and all those decorations in the yard? Cobwebs, skeletons, witches’ brews? They’re not real. They’re not even there to scare the crap out of anyone. They’re just to impress the neighbors.
Speaking of neighbors, the reason we pile into cars is not to go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house. It is to maximize the time/candy ratio. Studies have shown it is far more efficient to drive a couple of miles to neighborhoods with densely packed homes (email “06880” for a secret map!) than to trudge walk drive from house to house in otherwise highly regarded 1- and 2-acre-zoned areas.
“Trick or treat” once meant, “give me candy or I will throw toilet paper on your trees.” As trick-or-treaters morphed from tweens to teenagers, it meant, “give me candy or I will smash your pumpkin.” Now it means simply, “Give me candy. And it better be good.”
All of which explains why Mommy and Daddy need those drinks.
On the long list of early-adolescent activities I participated in, and of which I am not particularly proud (though nonetheless willing to share with thousands of “06880” readers), few rank higher than the true tale I am about to tell.
It is Halloween. I’m in 8th grade. I’m also desperate for acceptance by the hundreds of 8th graders clogging the halls of Long Lots Junior High, all of whom know telepathically how to dress (chinos and penny loafers), talk (“groovy,” “outasight,” “hey man”) and walk (coolly), while I have to work at such things as if they’re a full-time job.
Me, in 7th grade. A year later I was tossing mailboxes into ponds.
I am part of the in crowd, which is merely the most important thing in the entire universe to me, but I am fully aware that my position there is tenuous. I can be cast out at any moment by the queen bee, who has the power to do such things and often does, just on a whim (or perhaps simply to watch her fellow 8th graders squirm).
So naturally I am willingeager frothing to do anything it takes to stay cool.
Including tossing my own parents’ mailbox into the pond across the street.
I do not, mind you, set out that Halloween night to vandalize my mother’s and father’s mailbox. That is the furthest thing from my mind. The nearest thing is to follow along with whatever the rest of the in crowd does.
This, I quickly determine, is tossing other people’s mailboxes this way and that.
Now, I do not have anything against these folks. In many cases, I do not even know them. I have certainly never noticed their mailboxes.
And I should emphasize that I am not exactly a major player in this juvenile delinquency gang. I am not the person — Ricky, let’s call him — who cunningly determines which mailboxes will live, and which will die.
I am not the one — hmmm, Glenn sounds like a good name — who physically uproots the mailboxes Ricky has selected for extinction.
I am only one of many mindless drones who haul the mailboxes to the places our leaders decide will be the final resting places: The woods. The fields. The middle of the road.
Or, in the case of my parents’ mailbox, the pond across the street.
It was not easy being in the in crowd at Long Lots Junior High.
Let me say, in my defense, that I do not think trashing my parents’ mailbox is a particularly wise idea. I wonder whether they will be able to replace it in time for tomorrow’s postal delivery.
I hope they will not see me.
I pray the cops will not come racing down the street.
But like a good 8th grade follower, I keep my concerns to myself.
Part of my brain waits for my friends’ peculiar code of honor to kick in. The one that will enable them to say, in the middle of demolishing this particular mailbox, “Hey, wait a sec. That’s Dan’s parents’! Lay off, guys. This is wrong!”
Another brain part waits for someone to gracefully put his hands over my eyes while the dirty deed is being done.
I might as well wait for them to start discussing the use of imagery and allusion in Lord of the Flies.
Rather than letting me off the hook, my friends maliciously egg me on. To get me in exactly the right vandalistic frame of mind, they use the key phrase guaranteed to propel any insecure 13-year-old into action: “Come on, man. Everybody’s doing it.”
So I do it.
I help yank the mailbox out of the ground. I toss it in the air.
I hear the splash as it hits the water. I watch the ripples as it sinks slowly, s-l-o-wl-l-y, to its watery grave.
I feel ashamed, giving in so easily to my friends.
But I feel elated too, as my “buddies” slap my back. They congratulate me for trashing yet another mailbox.
For one more day, my place in the in crowd is secure.
There is, of course, a moral to this story. I am now many years older, and perhaps a bit wiser.
This Wednesday is Halloween. I know what it’s like to be a kid that night, and try like hell to fit in with the crowd.
So here is a message, especially to all you socially insecure 8th graders out there:
If you even think about tossing my mother’s mailbox into the pond, I’ll kill you.
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