Tag Archives: Jazz at the Post

Roundup: Catch A Lift, Wynston Browne, Railroad Bridge …

For the past decade, Westport has had a special relationship with Catch A Lift Fund. The national non-profit provides gym memberships and home gym equipment to help wounded post-9/11 service members heal physically and mentally, through physical fitness.

Westporters have donated funds, welcomed veterans, and joined in workouts at venues like the police station, VFW, beach and Birchwood Country Club. The vets give plenty back in return — as inspiration, and  serving as “angels” for children, teens and adults with disabilities through myTeamTriumph.

This year, Westport organizers invite our Fairfield neighbors to join us. Our first-ever Catch a Lift Golf & Tennis Outing is set for September 12, at the Patterson Club.

Click here for the many ways to participate, through golf, tennis, the cocktail party, and as sponsors.

And — because the vets are naturally competitive, in the gym and in life — this golf and tennis event involves a bit of competition too.

Check out the video below, to see the challenges between the Westport and Fairfield police chiefs and 1st selectwomen.

Because this is “06880,” not “06430,” I’m putting my money squarely on Foti and Jen.

 

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Speaking of special people: Wynston Browne’s story inspired many “06880” readers last month. The rising Staples High School sophomore is non-speaking autistic, but he is highly intelligent. He’s made spectacular strides recently using a communication device.

Today (Wednesday, August 10, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.), Wynston will “speak” (via his letter board) with interested residents at The Porch @ Christie’s.

He looks forward to sharing and learning more about everyone who stops by.

Wynston and his communication partner Elisa Feinman, at work with his spelling board.

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Elise Zimmerman asks: “Did you (and your readers know) that the tracks at the Westport train station flip up — like a draw bridge — for big boats?

“I witnessed this engineering feat today, and was very impressed. The train was delayed only a few minutes.”

I can’t speak for any other readers, but I sure knew.

In an amazing coincidence though, just 2 hours earlier Seth Schachter had sent me a collector’s postcard. It shows the same scene, from a different angle.

And from about 100 years earlier:

(Postcard courtesy of Seth Schachter)

Elise adds: “Do any of the other bridges on the Saugatuck River open up? If not, where is the boat going?!”

Have a seat, Elise. Let me tell you about the William F. Cribari Bridge …

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Bass master Brian Torff headlines tomorrow’s Jazz at the Post.

That’s the special Thursday night jazz series at VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399. Sets begin at 7 and 8:30 p.m.; dinner from 6:30, from chef Derek Furino.

The cover is just $10. Reservations are strongly recommended; email JazzatThePost@gmail.com.

Plan ahead:

  • August 18, David Morgan Trio
  • August 25: Ben Williams Jazz All-Stars
  • September 1: Rob Henke’s Cook County Stompers.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about telescopes, but didn’t even know to ask.

That’s the subject of the next Westport Astronomical Society’s lecture (August 16, 8 p.m.). Observatory director Bob Meadows is back from the 86tn Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers in Vermont, and will dish on the latest innovations.

Click here for the Zoom link; click here to watch on YouTube.

The Westport Observatory has a very impressive telescope. (Photo/Frank Rosen)

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Amy Simon Fine Art’s next exhibition (August 13 to September 17) is “Never-Ending Stories.” Featured artists are Clara Fialho and Ayse Wilson.

The gallery is at 123 Post Road East.

“Walking Through a Rose Garden Naked” (Clara Fialho)

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Wendy Van Wie sends along a “Westport … Naturally” challenge: Can you find the 3 goldfinches hiding in the sunflowers?

(Photo/Wendy Van Wie)

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And finally … Lamont Dozier died Monday in Arizona. He was 81.

I love many genres of music. But Motown is at the top of my list.

And for many of us who grew up listening to it, the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland was Motown.

They crafted an astonishing 80-plus Top 40 pop or R&B hits. An amazing 15 went to #1 — including 10 by the Supremes.

Click here for a full obituary. Click here for a list of all their songs. Then click “Comments” below to share your favorites.

It’s tough. My top 5 are here:

Roundup: Sweetgreen, Bridge Square, Saugatuck …

Sweetgreen went before the Architectural Review Board last night.

The salad-and-bowl fast casual restaurant — with over 150 outlets in more than a dozen states — will replace Organic Krush. The “lifestyle eatery” replaced Chipotle less than 2 years ago. Board members were pleased with the new look. (There were no comments on the menu.)

Representatives from Bridge Square faced more questions, about the new look of that venerable plaza. Questions centered around architectural additions, the back (river) side, and color.

Ultimately, the ARB voted to let the project continue, with the recommendation that the owners come back with a new color scheme.

The ARB took the most time on a pre-application review of a text amendment for The Hamlet at Saugatuck, the proposed redevelopment of the area bordered by Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place and Charles Street.

No decisions were made. Members asked questions about height and architecture. ROAN Ventures, the project developer, continues the process with the ARB and Planning & Zoning Commission in September.

Part of the proposed Saugatuck Hamlet project.

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One of Westport’s oldest best known liquor stores is for sale.

A commercial real estate listing for Greens Farms Spirit Shop says: “Prime location on well-traveled road. Fantastic selection of all types of Spirits, with experienced Staff. Full delivery service, and help with all Events, Weddings, as well as corporate outings. Truly a must see to get the full affect [sic] of the operation.”

It’s listed for $2,250,000. Click here for details. (Hat tip: Amy Swanson)

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Hook’d — the Compo Beach concessionaire — remains controversial.

A few “06800” readers accused me of being too harsh, with my recent report that my request for a rare cheeseburger was denied.

That’s the Health Department looking out for beef eaters, apparently. (Don’t forget: The girl at the counter said that all their burgers are cooked the same: medium. I couldn’t have gotten mine well done, either).

So take this next item with a grain of salt. Alert reader Martin Iselin writes:

“Joey’s (the previous concessionaire) was known for one of the best hot dogs around. After a bike ride I always rewarded myself with one.

“After finishing a recent ride, I thought I’d try the new place. I ordered a hot dog, and asked if they had sauerkraut. No!

“I asked about relish. No!

“Disappointed, a put a little mustard on it. I don’t what brand they use, but it was so salty I could not eat it.

“What kind of beach summer place has no condiments, and such bad food?”

I’m guessing that’s a rhetorical question.

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Marine Layer — the small clothing store next to the much bigger Gap — is closing August 1.

But they’ll reopen in late August, at a new location: 59 Main Street. They’re taking over Intermix.

I searched the “06880” archives for a mention of Marine Layer. Up popped a story from 2017.

It described a new group — Earth Guardians — that encouraged businesses to keep their doors shut when air conditioning (or heat) was on.

Of all the stores they visited, only one had its door closed: Marine Layer.

Marine Layer, with its door firmly closed.

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Sarah Jane Cion snagged first place in the 17th annual Great American Jazz Piano Competition.

Tomorrow, she plays the magnificent Steinway — direct from the legendary Village Gate club — at Westport’s VFW (465 Riverside Avenue). It’s the next, and one of the most anticipated, “Jazz @ the Post” shows of the summer.

Cion has performed with legends like Clark Terry, Etta Jones, Anita O’Day, Bucky Pizzarelli and Don Braden, and is a regular at Birdland. Judges for her award-winning competition were Horace Silver, Kenny Barron, Ellis Marsalis, Benny Green and Bill Charlap.

Music begins at 7 p.m. The cover charge of $10 goes directly to the musicians.

For more information and schedules, click here or here. For table reservations, call 203-227-6796 or emailjazzatthepost@gmail.com.

Sarah Jane Cion

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Tag sales wax and wane with the weather. We don’t see too many in winter — or summer.

But on Saturday, August 6 (8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; early bird special $10 for 8 a.m. entry), the Unitarian Church in Westport sponsors its always popular (and massive) sale.

Thousands of items are donated by dozens of families. Among them: outdoor tools, kitchenware, china, artwork, home décor, rugs, clothing, books, blankets, sheets, arm chairs, lamps — even a unicycle.

COVID knocked out the past couple of tag sales. So there’s plenty of merch — and demand 

Proceeds fund operating costs of the congregation, and the social justice causes they support.

A pre-COVID Unitarian Church tag sale.

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The eagle has landed. And it stayed at Schlaet’s Point for at least half an hour.

Alert “06880” reader Mary Gai captured this magnificent bird — at least with her camera — for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo?Mary Gai)

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And finally … speaking of bad hot dogs …

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Roundup: Hartford HealthCare, Rachel Robinson, Pequot Library …

Hartford Healthcare recently opened a new Post Road location, opposite the Exxon station at Maple Avenue North.

I hope it’s a good addition to Westport.

I also hope it’s a lot more efficient than their eldercare division.

For over a month I’ve received several dozen calls, texts and voicemails from them, all asking me to set up a consultation for “Chante.”

I have explained to several phone center operators that they have the wrong number. I am not Chante’s caregiver. I don’t know Chante. I ask for my number to be removed from the list.

Each caller promises to do it, immediately. But the calls keep coming.

They’re from a variety of area codes. I don’t want to block them, because — like so many people nowadays — one of my real doctors is, or may at some point be, part of Hartford Healthcare.

Meanwhile, my opinion of the health network keeps plummeting.

PS: If you know Chante, please have her call Hartford HealthCare ASAP. They’re looking for her.

 

 

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On Tuesday, Rachel Robinson turned 100

In 1999, Westport photographer Larry Silver took a series of images of her. The founder of  the Jackie Robinson Foundation — a non-profit  providing educational and leadership opportunities for minority students, named after her late husband — was featured in an American Express ad, as a woman of color who made great contributions to society.

Rachel Robinson (Photo/Larry Silver)

Happy 100th, Rachel!

And thanks, Larry, for sharing.

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I don’t usually link to Channel 12 news reports. They’re great. But “06880” and News12 are usually on different wavelengths.

Tuesday’s feature on Jazz at the Post was outstanding.

In just 3 minutes they covered every aspect of the weekly series at VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399: the venue, the music, interviews with key people — especially the famed piano that was once the pride of the Village Gate club in New York.

The series continues tonight (Thursday, July 21, 7 and 8:30 p.m.; dinner service at 6:30 p.m.; $10 cover). Meanwhile, click here for the news clip.

Screenshot from the Cablevision News12 story.

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Sure it’s over the border (barely). But many Westporters know and love the Pequot Library’s summer book sale.

So here’s the scoop on the Southport institution’s 61st annual event: It runs from tomorrow (Friday, July 22) through Tuesday (July 26).

The squintillion items include over 250 “collectibles” (online). Click here to see.

Click here for hours, pricing, special events and more information.

The Pequot Library — without the book sale crowd.

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David Dear has a trail cam at the edge of his Westport yard.

At 6:30 a.m. recently, it captured this bobcat with kittens. Showing the wildlife around us — much of which we seldom see — it’s a perfect image for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Dave Dear)

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And finally … despite Hartford Healthcare’s continuing and annoying calls, there is one Chante I don’t mind hearing about:

 

Roundup: Dunkin’ Down, Politico Zoom, Oldenburg Sculpture …

Westport is down one Dunkin’.

The donut-and-coffee spot on the Post Road at Maple Avenue North closed abruptly yesterday.

Some folks thought it’s because there will soon be a new Dunkin’ in Compo Shopping Center, near CVS.

Nope — that’s the new home for the Dunkin’ across from Fresh Market. The shopping plaza there is being renovated, prior to Westport Hardware moving in from its current digs a few yards away.

The “CVS Dunkin'” will drive more traffic to that already gruesome lot. But it’s a toss-up which is more dangerous: Compo Shopping Center, or the angled spots and snake-like exit from the smaller strip mall at the now-closed Maple Avenue store.

The closed Dunkin’.

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A COVID diagnosis has turned tonight’s 7 p.m. Westport Library discussion with John Harris into an all-virtual event.

The founder of Politico — the must-read news site — will talk with Steve Parrish, the Westport public affairs and communications expert. They’ll chat about Harris’ career, his work with Politico, and the future of politics in an increasingly polarized nation.

Click here to register for tonight’s Zoom session, and more information.

John Harris

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Bostonians love Kured. The charcuterie company has a shop in Beacon Hill, and delivers throughout the area. Now it’s opening in the Seaport District, on the Ombrello patio that includes restaurants, retail and entertainment.

Kured is the brainchild of 2016 Staples High School graduate Gilli Rozynek. She captained the field hockey team, and was a Student Ambassador, Best Buddy and SafeRides board member.

Gilli started Kured as a part of the start-up accelerator program at Boston College. She calls it “Sweetgreen or Chipotle for charcuterie.” Expansion to New York may be in the works.

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: David Loffredo)

Gilli Rozynek, at Kured.

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The death of Claes Oldenburg — the pop artist known for his large sculptures of everyday objects — reminded Paul Lowenstein of a local connection.

For nearly 20 years, Oldenburg’s 19-foot, 10,000-pound work of a typewriter eraser surprised and entertained drivers and joggers on a staid stretch of Beachside Avenue. In 2019, the sculpture was moved to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida.

It now sits in Heyman Plaza. The site is named for Sam and Ronnie Heyman (she’s a Norton trustee) — the Greens Farms couple who donated the massive work. (Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

“Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” — Claes Oldenburg’s sculpture on Beachside Avenue..

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Speaking of art: Local artist Sherri Wolfgang gets her star turn next month at the George Billis Gallery.

Her show opens with a reception August 4 (4 to 7 p.m., 180 Post Road East). It runs through September 3.

“Same As It Ever Was,” oil on linen (from Sherri Wolfgang’s “American Pathos” series).

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Thursday’s Jazz at the Post (7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., VFW Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue; $10 cove) features legendary bassist Harvie S., with James Weidman,
Tony Jefferson and “Jazz Rabbi” Greg Wall.

Dinner service begins at 6:30. Reservations are strongly recommended: JazzatThePost@gmail.com

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Pam Kesselman is an avid beach-goer. A grossed-out one too, these days.

She writes: “Before I went for a swim. I picked up this debris. I wonder how many fish we’ve hurt with our garbage. It was disgusting!”

(Photo/Pam Kesselman)

She adds: “Everyone: Please pick up after yourselves at the beach . It can be lovely but won’t be unless everyone works at it.”

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How fierce was yesterday’s storm?

This drain at Stop & Shop could scarcely keep up with all the rain:

(Photo/Jacquie O’Brien)

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Gloria Ann Calise Franco, a member of Westport’s noted Calise family, died last week in New Canaan, surrounded by her family. She was 95.

Born in New York City, she moved with her parents Mike and Catherine Calise to Westport. Her father founded the Westport Game & Poultry Farm on the Post Road.

Following graduation from Staples High School in 1944, she attended Berkeley Secretarial School in New York.

The game farm became Calise’s Market. Her father opened a liquor store next door. A salesman caught Gloria’s eye. With some matchmaking from Gloria’s sister Susie, Gloria and Dick Franco married in 1949.

They moved to New Canaan, where they raised 11 children. She was involved in their school activities, as well as the Democratic Town Committee, UNICEE (chapter president), the New Canaan Women’s Club and Parks & Recreation Commission (board member of both), and the American School for the Dea.

She and Dick were presidents of the New Canaan Dance Club too. She was a faithful churchgoer, and well known for her 3 p.m. tea time.

Gloria was predeceased by her husband; their children Richard A. Jr. of New Canaan; Tom (Yvonne) of Ridgefield, Chris (Christie) of Monroe, New York, Anne Franco McAndrew of Kent, Tim (Marie) of Concord, Massachusetts, Mike (Mary) of New Canaan, Duffy (Megan Collins) of Norwalk, Carl of New Canaan, Claude (Val) of New Canaan, Katie Franco O’Neill (Mike) of New Canaan, and Kelley Franco Throop (Tom) of Rowayton; 16 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren, and her sister Marie Sodaro of Fairfield.

A wake will be held Thursday (July 21, 3 to 7 p.m., Hoyt Funeral Home, New Canaan). The funeral is set for Friday (July 22, 10 a.m., St. Aloysius Church). Contributions in her honor may be made to St. Catherine Center for Special Needs in Fairfield.

Gloria Calise Franco

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Most visitors to the Senior Center are a “certain age.”

Not this family. Jill Grayson spotted the young-looking parent and her children there the other day. They patiently posed for her — and for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Jill Grayson)

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And finally … on this date in 1848, the 1st US women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York.

(“06880” is fully reader-support. If you’d like to help, please click here.)

Roundup: Hook’d (Of Course), Saugatuck River Bridge, Entertainment …

A bit of good news from Hook’d!

They’ve finally posted their hours of operation on their door. They say they open at 11 a.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. weekends. They’re open until 8 p.m. 7 nights a week.

See you there!

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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Unfortunately, that’s not the only Hook’d-related news today.

A reader writes: “A quick Google search of (concessionaire) Upsilon Ventures and (owner) Itai Shoffman uncovers all sorts of stuff, like unpaid taxes.”

Attached was a link to Southern District of New York District Court judgment in “United States of America v. Itai Shoffman.” He was held liable for $201,659.73 in unpaid federal income taxes for 2007 and ’08, plus interest.

The judgment was dated February 12, 2021 — nearly one year after he and Upsilon were awarded the concession contract for Compo Beach and Longshore.

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The Onion is known for repeating the same post-mass murder headline, month after tragic month: “‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

Westport’s repeated headline is this: “Truck Stuck Under Saugatuck River Railroad Bridge.”

It happened again yesterday morning. A driver ignored the warning sign — “Clearance: 10 Feet, 11 Inches,” and plowed underneath.

As usual, the bridge won.

Yesterday at the Saugatuck Avenue railroad bridge. Similar scenes are repeated regularly. (Photo/David Stone)

Readers always offer suggestions, such as better warnings for truckers (particularly those coming off I-95 Exit 17 eastbound, and not paying attention).

The bridge itself can’t be raised. But what will happen to Northeast corridor train traffic if repeated accidents make it structurally unsound?

Meanwhile, every time a truck driver misses or ignores the warning sign, we all smack our heads in disbelief.

And take a detour.

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The magnificent Steinway piano — formerly at New York’s Village Gate jazz club — has not been played since the day before COVID struck Westport.

But tomorrow (Thursday, July 7, VFW Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue), Janice Friedman joins “Jazz Rabbi” Greg Wall. She’ll play it again, at “Jazz at the Post.”

There are 2 sets: 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The cover is just $10; there’s also dinner from 6:30 on, with chef Derek Furino. Reservations are “strongly recommended” via email: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Before COVID, the Steinway piano was played at 323 restaurant.

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If jazz is not your thing, what about art?

“Double Indemnity” — the Westport Library show of work by Miggs Burroughs and Ann Chernow, based on the noir classic — continues tomorrow and the following Thursday (July 7 and 14).

Both artist will be at the gallery, from 6 p.m. on. At 7, films will be shown on the Library’s big screen: “Detour” this week, “Nightmare Alley” next.

Popcorn and other goodies are available too.

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Meanwhile, just added for Friday, at the Levitt Pavilion:

Hayley Jane & The Primates combine Americana, soul and rock & roll. They bring a powerful vocal range, vibrant dance choreography and explosive energy. The opening act is One Time Weekend.

Click here for free tickets.

Hayley Jane & the Primates.

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Michael Wolfe has no idea who put a sign up on Marion Road this morning.

But, Michael says, “he’s clearly on a quest to spread the word/embarrass Denise on her birthday. Might as well help the cause!”

(Photo/Michael Wolfe)

So: Happy Birthday, Denise, from all your friends at “06880.”

But don’t worry … we won’t tell anyone else 🙂

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Every day, there’s family fun at Wakeman Town Farm.

But this Saturday (July 9, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), it’s an official, capitalized Family Fun Day.

Kids of all ages can visit feed animals, plant sunflower seeds, and enjoy music from the School of Rock Fairfield. Food and drink for purchase includes ice cream, smoothies, iced coffee, lemonade and wood-fired pizza.

The schedule:

  • 11 to 2:45: Animal visits; reading room
  • 11 to 12:30: Buzzin’ Bees Craft
  • 11:30 to 12:45: Seed planting
  • 11:30 to 2:30: Pizza
  • 12 to 2: Ice cream
  • 12:30 to 2: Face painting
  • 1 to 2:45: Flight of the Butterflies Craft
  • 1 to 3: Music from the School of Rock House Band
  • 1:15 to 2:45: Farm Olympics.

Click here for advance tickets. Walk-ins are welcome too.

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There’s a lot going on at Earthplace, too.

Canoe paddles along the Saugatuck River — in search of egrets, osprey, ducks, shorebirds and much more — are set for this Saturday (July 9, 10 a.m. to noon); Friday, August 12; Saturday, September 10, and Sunday, October 16. Click here for reservations and more information.

Family campfires, with (of course) roasting marshmallows — plus meet an animal ambassador, and enjoy s’mores and a guided activity. There is a different theme for each campfire. Each family has their own picnic table. Dates are July 15, September 16, October 21, November 26 and December 21. Click here for details.

Meanwhile, admission to the Earthplace Museum is free through September 5, for Connecticut residents age 18 and under, and one adult caregiver. Support comes from Connecticut Humanities, the Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts, and ARPA.

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George Billis Gallery — now in a new location, 180 Post Road East — hosts an opening reception tomorrow (July 7, 5 to 8 p.m.).

“Ride the Wave” features 8 women artists, including Westporter Dale Najarian.

“Southampton Coastline” — oil on canvas (Dale Najarian)

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Round Pond is one of Westport’s most historic (and overlooked) sites.

Located near the Longshore entrance road — and across the street from the house F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald rented in 1920 — it was where social reformer Lillian Wald lived for many years. Eleanor Roosevelt was a frequent guest.

These days, it’s better known as a winter skating spot.

A small sign now notes its name. It’s in keeping with the beauty of the place — and a great image for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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Never heard of Hayley Jane & the Primates — this Friday’s Levitt Pavilion band (story above)?

Neither have I.

They’ve been around a while, apparently. Here’s a 2015 clip, from Bridgeport’s Gathering of the Vibes festival:

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