Tag Archives: Julia Marino

Roundup: Parks & Rec, Julia Marino, Twiddle …

Westport Parks & Recreation Department seasonal employees do it all.

Lifeguards keep everyone safe at our beaches and pools, handle first aid and medical concerns, and answer countless questions (over and over again).

Guest Services staffers collect daily fees, organize parking, keep the beaches and lots clean, and answer countless questions (over and over again).

Tennis clerks greet customers, schedule reservations, collect fees, and maintain the courts and surroundings.

Dock attendants assist boaters n docking, sell gasoline and ice, and oversee the marinas at Compo and Longshore.

Those are thankless jobs. So of course, most of us never say “thanks.”

On August 8, Parks & Rec operations manager Carmen Roda and waterfront foreman Michael Giunta will.

They (and guest services supervisor Donny Christopher, and tennis supervisors Jamie Boone and Matthew Schwartz) are treating those employees — well, the ones who won’t be working, anyway — to a “thank you” picnic.

It’s a welcome gesture. These (mostly) young men and women help make our summers rock. 

Meanwhile, the next time you see a lifeguard, beach or dock attendant, or tennis employee, say “thank you” too.

Westport Parks & Rec staff help the summer run smoothly.

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Over the past few years, the dingy pedestrian tunnel underneath the Westport railroad station tracks has been transformed into a much more welcoming space.

A partnership between the Westport Police Department — they’re in charge of railroad parking — and the Westport Arts Center, with gifts from Bill Scheffler and his wife Ann Sheffer, Robin Tauck, the late Gordon Joseloff and others, turned the sometimes-scary passageway into a stunning art gallery.

Westport native and noted artist Miggs Burroughs created 16 LED-lit lightboxes. Each continued a lenticular image that combined one from a 100-year-old postcard of Westport’s past, with a current shot of the same scene. Compo Beach, Longshore, the station itself — all are represented.

This spring, a new lightbox was added, on the station wall itself. You don’t have to descend into the tunnel to see another handsome lenticular, with scenes of the cannons and downtown. This one actually says “Welcome to Westport!”

Now there’s a new one, with a modern twist. It honors Olympic snowboarding silver medalist (and Westport native) Julia Marino.

It’s another great lenticular image by Miggs. Unveiled yesterday morning, it will be displayed for the next year.

One view of MIggs Burroughs’ lenticular image …

… and the other.

At the unveiling yesterday (from left): 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, Julia Marino, Deputy Chief Sam Arciola, Julia’s father John (hidden), Miggs Burroughs.

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Twiddle fans are all a-flutter for this Friday and Saturday’s special Levitt Pavilion shows (click here for details, and tickets).

An added bonus (besides the Vermont-based jam band, plus Mihail and The Nth Power):

The White Light Foundation supports causes and organizations important to Twiddle and its fans. They receive $1 from every ticket sold, then donate it back into each community where the band plays.

For their Westport shows, White Light has selected Earthplace and Project Return.

Great choices! The science/conservation/education group, and the empowerment program for homeless young women, both do wonderful work.

No wonder this weekend’s headliners have such a devoted following. They — and their fans — truly care about others. And they walk the talk.

They don’t just sit around twiddling their thumbs.

Twiddle. ©Jay Blakesberg

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Speaking of the Levitt Pavilion: Sunday’s Sweet Remains concert was a smash. A full house loved the sweet-sounding group, an annual Levitt Pavilion favorite.

But you didn’t have to haul a lawn chair to the grass to enjoy the show.

Dylan Germishuys has a different idea. He writes:

“I line up Sunday concerts with higher tides, then get some people on our boat to go up the Saugatuck River and listen  from the best seats ‘in’ the house.

“There was a perfect incoming tide for the Sweet Remains. We took a slow trip, found our spot, and had a picnic during the concert. The sound was great.

“At lower tides you have fewer options as to where you anchor, and have to be a little more cautious coming up this far. If the river was dredged, that might create more space.

“At higher tides , the Cribari (Bridge Street) bridge is a challenge for bigger boats. We only had a foot or two clearance on the way out.

“There’s enough room for quite a few more boats to do the same. You have to test your Bridge Street clearance at high tide before venturing up at low though, and being stuck for a tide cycle!”

Boating by the Levitt. (Photo/Dylan Germishuys)

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Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup noted the (aaaaargh!) holiday music at the Bridge Square Dunkin’ Donuts.

Halloween is a lot closer than Christmas: only 97 days away.

So hurry on down to HomeGoods, which has already stocked all your costume needs.

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

That area of town is quickly cornering the Halloween market. Just moments after Sandy Rothenberg sent her (aaaaargh!) HomeGoods report, Jack Krayson noted that Spooky Town — across from Stop & Shop, by Bulkley Avenue North — is open for business too.

No sign of pumpkins yet though, at either store.

Slackers.

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Connecticut’s Democratic and Republican parties have primaries on Tuesday, August 9.

Unaffiliated voters cannot vote in primary elections — unless they change their registration to either party. Unaffiliated voters have until noon on August 8 to change, and register with either party. Click here for the link, to make the change online.

In other August 9 primary news: The town needs poll workers.

Poll workers must be registered voters in Connecticut. They must take part in a training session, for which they are paid $25.

Pay for the August 9 election day: A full day is $200, with a $40 food allowance;  a half=day shift is $100, with a $20 for food allowance.

Election Day work starts at 5:45 a.m. (polls open at 6 a.m. sharp) and concludes at 8:15 p.m. (polls close at 8 p.m. sharp).

For more information, email dgreenberg@westportct.gov.

Voting machines and poll workers, at the Westport Library.

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From time to time, “auction” signs pop up around Westport. Recently, we’ve been overridden with these:

(Photo/Matt Murray)

Alert reader Matt Murray writes:

“I called this number. Just for laughs. I wanted to see where they were located. It had been disconnected. Gee, do you think you could have been a scam?”

I’m not a betting man, Matt. But I’d bet my Patek Philippe, Rolex or Lamborghini on it.

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Dream Spa & Salon is turning 22 years old.

To celebrate, they’ve hired an ice cream truck to treat their clients (and anyone else who wanders by).

It’s August 5, from 5 to 7 p.m. (1220 Post Road East — the funky house in front of Crate & Barrel).

Happy birthday, Dream!

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We head inside for today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo — a cool image of Dusty Smith’s colorful zinnias.

(Phoro/Dusty Smith)

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And finally … if you’re intrigued by Twiddle (see story above), but have never heard of the band (or even if you have), give a listen:

(“06880” is your blog. Please click here to help support this online community.)

Long Lots Welcomes A Hero Home

It’s always fun to return to your old elementary school.

Especially if it’s as an Olympic champion.

Fifteen years ago, Julia Marino was a Long Lots student. This morning — now an Olympic silver medalist — she was back.

Before the assembly, Julia and her mother Elaine posed with an “Einstein” costume the Olympian wore in 3rd grade.

Energy was high, as nearly 600 students, staff, central office administrators and PTA members gathered in the auditorium for the first school-wide meeting since COVID struck 2 years ago.

With the Olympic theme playing and Mark Carmody — her former phys. ed. teacher, still at the school — serving as host, Julia came on stage to thunderous applause.

Host Mark Carmody read student questions. Julia Marino answered them all, with honesty and humor.

Video clips showed Julia on her 2nd spectacular slopestyle snowboard run. Students also saw her great display of sportsmanship, piling on the New Zealand athlete who had just edged her out for the gold medal.

“Everyone wants to win. You go to the Olympics to get gold,” Julia told the crowd.

“But it’s so important to be there for your friends. Even if they do better than you, it’s great to support them.”

Superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice and Julia’s mother Elaine enjoyed the assembly.

Julia answered students’ questions too. They ranged from the names of former teachers, her birthday (September 11) and whether she’s married (no) to her favorite part of the Olympics (“hanging out with my friends from different countries”), what she’d do if she weren’t snowboarding (film and photography), her favorite subjects at Long Lots (PE and art), whether she’s still friends with Long Lots kids (yes!), her other sports (soccer, basketball, softball, skateboarding and more), her favorite video games (Nintendo Switch and Mario Kart), her biggest challenge (overcoming fear of hitting big jumps), and advice to new snowboarders (“get butt pads — you’ll fall a lot”).

After gifts of flowers and a Long Lots swag bag, principal Kim Ambrosio unfurled a sign honoring the Olympic champion. It will hang in the gym.

Principal Kim Ambrosio (far right) and the new sign.

The assembly ended with Julia joining in, as students sang the school song.

Once a Lion, always a Lion.

Julia Marino’s 5th grade writeup, in the Long Lots yearbook. How many elementary school students’ dreams come true?!

Pics Of The Day #1811

The town of Westport honored Julia Marino tonight.

Hundreds of residents of all ages — including a huge number of awestruck young kids, plus former soccer teammates and her parents’ postal carrier — thronged the Westport Library to get autographs from, pose for pictures with, and hear the snowboard slopestyle Olympic silver medalist.

An added bonus: a chance to lift that actual medal themselves.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and State Representative Jonathan Steinberg read proclamations. ESPN Emmy-winner (and fellow Westporter) Jeremy Schaap led an intriguing Q-and-A session. It was announced that a lenticular image of Julia, by artist Miggs Burroughs, will hang at the train station, welcoming all to Westport.

And Library director Bill Harmer invited everyone back for a watch party — in 2026, when we all hope Julia will compete in the Milano Cortina Olympics. 

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker is often in the center of photos. Today she and her daughter happily flanked Julia Marino.

Scores of parents took photos of their children, and Julia Marino.

(From left): 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, Julia Marino and friends enjoy a video of Julia’s Olympic accomplishments, on the Library’s high-tech, high-res screen.

Julia Marino, at the start of her silver medal run, on the Library’s big screen.

ESPN host Jeremy Schaap chats with fellow Westporter Julia Marino.

A small portion of the large crowd gives Julia Marino a standing ovation.

Julia’s actual Olympic medal. It’s heavy! (All photos/Dan Woog)

 

Roundup: Julia Marino, Beach Digs, Beach Dogs …

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A bigger crowd will honor Olympic medalist Julia Marino tomorrow than was on hand when she actually won it.

Spectators were not allowed on the Chinese mountain where the Westport native snagged her snowboard slopestyle silver. Her parents, sister and friends watched from half a world away, on Vivid-Tek’s big screen.

They — and many more fans — will fill the Trefz Forum tomorrow, for the town’s celebration.

But if you haven’t already registered, don’t try getting in. All the (free) tickets were gone in a few hours.

You can still see it, though. The 7 p.m. event will be livestreamed. Click here for the link.

Hey — if watching Julia win an Olympic medal on a screen was good enough for her family, doing the same for her celebration should be okay for you.

Julia Marino, on the Olympic podium. Tomorrow she’ll stand on the Library stage.

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Fashionably Westport — the Downtown Association’s great benefit for Project Return, the Homes with Hope program for homeless women — kicked off last night with a runway event at the Westport Library.

Fashionably Westport continues today (Friday, April 1) with activities and promotions at downtown and Playhouse Square retailers and salons

Participating merchants include Middlemarch, WEST, Noya Jewelry Design, FRED, Marine Layer, Splash of Pink, Southern Tide, Cotelac, Barbour, Stephen Kempson London, Express Edit, Winged Monkey, Fleet Feet, The Plumed Serpent, Bobbles & Lace, Brochu Walker, 7 For All Mankind, Splendid, Scout and Molly’s, Great Stuff, Pure Salon and Artistex.

Looking fashionable last night at the Library (from left): Homes with Hope CEO Helen McAlinden, RTM member Sal Liccione, frequent food drive volunteer Anna Rycenga, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Westport Downtown Association president Maxx Crowley.

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Some of Westport’s most historic, unique — and breathtaking — homes are for sale.

And they’re all next to each other, on one of Westport’s most historic and unique sites: Compo Mill Cove.

#44 — a 1917 bungalow — is the gray house, most visible (and most painted and photographed) from Old Mill Beach. The oldest one on the Cove, with original framing and fireplace intact, it’s accessible via a footpath and teak boardwalk, just beyond 2 wooden bridges.

Incredibly, it never floods. Even Superstorm Sandy did no damage. The price was recently reduced to $3.295 million.

Fun at 44 Compo Mill Cove.

Also on the market: #42 (the cottage rebuilt in 2006 by Michael Greenberg), and #48 Compo Mill Cove. Like #44, they’re owned by Robin Tauck, and feature natural plantings. Together, they’re on hundreds of feet of private beachfront.

42 Compo Mill Cove, aka “The Pirate Shack.”

There’s an open house for all 3 Sunday (April 3, 1 to 3 p.m.). Park in the Old Mill lot, and walk over the bridges.

PS: Though not owned by Robin, #46 is far sale too. That means all of the Cove point is for sale.

Buy one of these spectacular homes.

Or all 4!

44 Compo Mill Cove is the gray house on the right side of this photo. Other homes nearby are also for sale.

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April 1 is noteworthy for 2 things:

  • April Fool’s Day
  • The start of the 6-month dog ban at Westport beaches.

A couple of alert readers/avid dog owners captured the final day of Fido and Fifi’s freedom yesterday, at Compo.

Frank, Oggy, Utah and Winston (Photo/Nicola Sharian)

(Photo/Collette Winn)

See you October 1!

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Pause + Purpose — the new mindfulness studio, across from the Library on Jesup Road — calls its sessions “Pause for a Cause.”

From tomorrow through Monday (April 2-4), that cause is Ukraine. All proceeds from meditations hosted by the studio staff will go to World Central Kitchen, to help feed the Ukrainian people.

Click here to book a session. Click here to learn more about Pause + Purpose.

Inside Pause + Purpose.

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An “06880” reader sends this cautionary tale:

The other day, an older woman was shopping at HomeGoods, near Southport. She returned to her car — close to the store — and put her bags in the car.

A “normal-looking person” said, “Hey, be careful backing out. Your rear tire is flat.”

She got out to look. When she turned back around, he had already grabbed her purse and vanished.

Be careful out there.

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Some “Westport … Naturally” photos can sit for a while before I use them.

Not this one.

Soon, the branches will fill out. In a couple of weeks — fingers crossed — this image of Owenoke Park, looking toward Compo Beach, will seem very dated.

Fingers crossed, anyway.

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)

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And finally … in honor of today:

Roundup: Julia Marino, Oscars, Organic Krush …

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Welcome home, Julia Marino!

Westport welcomes our Olympic snowboard silver medalist on Saturday, April 2 (6:30 p.m.).

She’ll join fellow Westporter Dave Briggs — former CNN, NBC News and Fox News anchor, now with Yahoo Finance — for a wide-ranging conversation.

It’s a family event, with free ice cream from Shake Shack (for the kids) and beer and wine (adults). Of course, Julia will sign autographs.

To attend in person at the Library, click here. To watch the livestream, click here.

Co-sponsors include the Weston Westport Chamber of Commerce, Westport Lifestyle magazine, and The Grapevine.

Julia Marino, on the Olympic podium. On April 2, she’ll stand on the Library stage.

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A Westport hiker is missing in the Adirondacks.

Thomas Howard headed to Mt. Colden in North Elba, New York last Friday. He was reported missing Wednesday, after failing to return from his trip,

His last known location was at the Marcy Dam lean-to. State Police and forest rangers ask anyone who has seen him to call 518-891-2000

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Sometimes you have to put down a book, and see a movie.

The Westport Book Shop understands. So the Jesup Road institution has paired with its Imperial Avenue neighbor — the Remarkable Theater — to celebrate the 94th annual Academy Awards.

They’re co-sponsors of a “Guess the Oscars Winners” contest.

Starting Sunday, you can fill out a ballot for who you think will win, in 9 categories. The top 3 entrants receive a ticket to any drive-in movie this year. Plus a $25 Westport Book Shop gift card — and Remarkable Theater and Book Shop swag.

Ballots will be available at the Westport Book Shop, and by visiting the Book Shop website or the Remarkable Theater website. The deadline is 5 p.m. March 27. Only one entry per person.

 

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In 2016, a section of Smith Richardson Preserve was a thicket of weeds, and invasive shrubs and vines.

Connecticut Audubon envisioned an ecological overhaul that would transform it into a rich, coastal forest and shrub-land filled with birds, bees and butterflies.

Then they did it.

The story behind the project will be told at Aspetuck Land Trust’s next “Lunch & Learn” (March 22n, 12 to 1:15 p.m.. Zoom). CT Audubon steward and ALT member Charlie Stebbins reveals how that tangle turned into a mixture of meadows, shrubs, thickets, conifers and open woods. Click here to register.

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Teenagers love to eat.

Of course, they don’t always eat well.

Organic Krush can help

On March 29 (6 p.m.), they’ll kick off a “Cooking Health” series at their Compo Acres Shopping Center location.

They’re inviting all students ages 15 and up for the free event. They’ll learn fun cooking and knife skills, and how to make amazingly healthy bowls.

Of course, they can eat all of their creations.

Naturally.

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April is Autism Acceptance Month. It’s a propitious time for Westport author Sivan Hong to release her 4th book in the best-selling “Super Fun Day” series. “Avery G. and the Scary End of School” is a social story that helps children express their feelings about the end of school.

It’s perfect for neurodiverse (autism, ADHD, dyslexia, etc.), and also neurotypical, youngsters who struggle with change, worry about new things and are working on being flexible.

Avery G. teaches them how to tackle change, including movement breaks and belly breaths.

For more information and to order, click here.

 

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The March 25 entry deadline for the Wheels2U limerick contest is approaching, even faster than a Westport Transit District bus that comes to your door.

The goal is to raise awareness of the $2 pick-up request service (5:45 to 10 a.m., 4 to 9:30 p.m.), to and from Westport’s 2 train stations. Seven winners earn gift certificates to Westport restaurants ($100 to $25).

Enter as often as you like. Email pgold@westportct.gov by March 25; put “Limerick Contest” in the subject line, and include your name, address, and email address.

Some great entries have already been sent in. However, some are actual poems, rather than limericks. A reminder: This is a limerick…

A brilliant lawyer named Lena
Said be smart and commute greener.
Give the bus a try.
It’s as easy as pie!
If not, you’ll get a subpoena!

For more information about Wheels2U, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities. click here.

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Ken Bernhard — the longtime Westport attorney who taught law in Ukraine — has continued his friendships with people he met there.

Yesterday, he passed along this email from one of them:

“On February 24, I woke up to the loud noise of 2 rocket strikes on my hometown. A short whistling sound was followed 2 seconds later by a loud bang.

“It was terrifying. Of course, there was no trace of normal sleep after that. The whole following day was grim and stressful with people shocked in disbelief. Food started disappearing from grocery shelves and cash disappeared, with no credit cards accepted.

“Because of the imminent danger of night air attacks, we decided to leave our city to the village about 30 miles away and stay with friends. We haven’t been able to go home since. We are now displaced people living alien lives. There are shortages of food, fuel, medicine and most basic necessities.  There is no re-supply capacity. We have to watch how much we eat.

“The kids don’t understand what has happened to us. Due to a major gas pipeline damage near Mariupol (shelling), there is no gas anywhere in the region for residential heating or cooking. We use wood in a wheel barrel to make coffee. Electricity is spotty. with frequent power grid outages.

“About 10 days ago I personally witnessed a column of about 75 Russian military vehicles pass through the village, indifferent and threatening at the same time. We hear explosions regularly and see rockets passing overhead. It is terrifying thinking one of them might land on us. We are worried to death about people we know in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Sumy and other big cities under bombardment. We hear about heavy battles going on.

“Apart from the devastation (evacuations, killing and suffering), there is social devastation as well. We do not work; kids don’t go to schools; kindergarteners, pensioners suffer; there is no postal service or cell connectionl millions of active citizens leavr the country for safety – this all effects the Ukrainian economy, social life, education, healthcare. The longer the conflict goes, the worse such impact will be. This is especially hard, since Ukraine, like the rest of the world, has been badly hit by COVID for the past two years.

“My hometown is occupied for now, with Russian propaganda machine slowly but steadily infiltrating local minds. For now, locals protest daily in peaceful but organized ways and resist Russian humanitarian convoys. But how long will they be able to resist with not much food or any other opportunities available?

“My wife and I discussed her option to escape with the kids from the region toward Europe, probably Poland, but there are too many risks for our children. They could bring with them only the things they could carry. I am waiting to be called up for duty.

“At this point, nothing can be predicted for sure. Things are out of control. With God’s will, things will come to a peaceful end. Glory to Ukraine!”

p.s. Thank you for reading this and your continuous support of us. Your words and prayers matter!”

A graphic photo by Staples High School 1988 graduate Tyler Hicks. (Photo/Tyler Hicks for The New York Times)

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Here is the full obituary for Leonard Flom. The internationally known ophthalmologist, medical pioneer and inductee in the National Inventors Hall of Fame died Tuesday at Norwalk Hospital. He was 94.

The son of Polish immigrants Murray and Pauline Flom of Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Flom entered New York University at the age of 16. He received a medical degree from the NYU School of Medicine, where he studied ophthalmology and was certified as an ophthalmic surgeon.

He then became a first lieutenant in the US Army Medical Corps. He was stationed in Trieste, Italy during the Korean war conflict.

Following his service, Dr. Flom founded a private medical practice and surgical center in Fairfield. He served Fairfield County for nearly 50 years. With his colleague Dr. Aaron Safir, he conceptualized and patented an idea for an iris identification system, and co-founded IriScan. Today, this biometric is considered to be one of the most accurate in the field of biometric identification.

Dr. Flom taught and worked at a number of New York and Connecticut universities and hospitals, and remained a member of the faculty of the NYU School of Medicine after retiring from practice. He served on the Ethics Committee of the Connecticut Medical Examining Board, and was an active member of the Y’s Men and a frequent guest speaker at Camp Invention.. His passions included politics, photography, humor and faith.

Dr. Flom is survived by Marilyn, his wife of 74 years; children Cherie Quain, Jonathan Flom, Sara Goldstein and Rachel Chason; 12 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his oldest son, Murray.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations in his memory may be made to Friends of Sheba Medical Center Tel HaShomer Guild or Congregation Beth El.

Dr. Leonard Flom

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Yesterday’s Roundup included an incorrect date for the Staples High School Guidance Department’s “Spark Your Future” virtual session on careers in business and computer science, with alums Georgia Fox, Megan Root and Jake McCambley.

The correct date is Tuesday, April 5 (6:30 to 7:30 p.m.). Click here to register. Everyone is welcome.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo asks: “Why did the turkeys cross Partrick Road?”

(Photo/Jordan Hix)

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And finally … Timmy Thomas’s best-known hit was “a soulful, plaintive statement against the Vietnam War that he sang to his own accompaniment on the electric organ and drum machine,” the New York Times‘ said.

He was not a one-hit wonder, but that’s what led his obituary. He died last week in Miami. He was 77, and had battled cancer. Click here for the full obituary, and below for his memorable song.

Catching Up (And Air) With Julia Marino

February was a wild month for Julia Marino.

The Westporter won a silver medal in slopestyle snowboarding at the Beijing Olympics. She withdrew from the big air event due to injury — and promptly got embroiled in a controversy with the International Olympic Committee over it.

After a couple of days’ rest at the Sturges Highway home where she grew up, the 24-year-old flew to Milan. She hung out with other celebrities at Fashion Week — and why not? Prada is one of her sponsors.

Last weekend, she was back in Westport. As Julia caught her breath, I caught up with her.

Her backyard held many memories. As a 3-year-old, she learned to ride a bike on the tennis court. Later, her dad John helped her build a skate ramp nearby. Always, she and her younger sister Cece played in a tree fort, and on rope swings.

(From left): Julia, Elaine and Cece Marino, at Maine’s Old Port in 2019.

She also skateboarded at the Compo Beach park, and played soccer, basketball and softball in town.

After Long Lots Elementary and Bedford Middle Schools, Julia transferred to St. Joseph High in Trumbull. They accommodated her already-hectic snowboarding travel schedule — and besides, they had a powerhouse soccer team.

Julia Marino’s 5th grade writeup, n the Long Lots yearbook. How many elementary school students’ dreams come true?!

The Staples girls program had not yet reached its current state championship heights. But as a junior, Julia — who began playing with the Westport Soccer Association, then continued with Yankee United, CFC and Beachside — helped the Cadets win a Class L state title.

Julia Marino’s U-9 Westport Soccer Association team. She’s in the front row, far right.

By senior year, Julia was taking her classes online. Snowboarding had become her primary sport.

It began years earlier, when Julia, Cece, John, her mother Elaine and uncle took their annual trip to Beaver Creek, Colorado. Her skis snapped on a mogul, so she spent the rest of the week snowboarding.

In 8th grade, Julia Marino’s Bedford Middle School Science Fair project was on “Testing the Best Type of Wax to Increase the Speed of a Snowboard.”

With encouragement from instructors — and a love for the freewheeling nature of the sport — she was soon competing. At 13, her parents signed her up for Vermont’s Stratton Mountain weekend program. She missed school every Friday — but she was hooked.

She spent the next winter at the Stratton Mountain School. The year after that, she and her father were in Colorado, where she competed and attended school.

By the time she was 16, Julia was on the national team. She traveled the world. She missed her family and home town. But there were mountains to conquer.

Which she did. Julia is a 7-time X Games medalist, and was on the US team for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.

This year’s Olympic Games were different — and not just because Julia became the first US athlete to medal there, in any sport. COVID meant that families were not allowed in China. Julia’s mom, dad, sister and friends watched from half a world away, on Vivid-Tek’s huge Post Road screen.

Julia Marino, on the Olympic podium.

“It was really weird. We were heavily bubbled in China. There were lots of restrictions. It would have been tough for parents,” Julia said.

But because Elaine and John had not been at most of her competitions, it was nothing new.

And though this was the Olympics — with exponentially more worldwide attention than any other event — Julia treated it as, well, just another event.

“I tried not to overthink things, or get too stressed out,” she said. Meanwhile, texts and emails from back home helped motivate her.

Despite the injury that forced her to withdraw from big air, and the controversy over the IOC’s banning of her board because of its Prada logo, she is “over the moon” with her slopestyle results.

That’s her favorite part of snowboarding, Julia said. It’s a creative event, always different and new. She loves linking all the rails together, soaring from one to the next. “I really get into a flow on the course,” she noted.

Of course, winning an Olympic medal is every athlete’s dream.

Then came her whirlwind trip to Milan. She had a great time meeting the rest of the Prada team, meeting other celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Charli D’Amelio, and strengthening connections between sports and fashion.

Julia Marino (right) and actress Emma Mackey, in the front row at Milan’s Fashion Week.

Soon it was back to Westport. But not for long.

Julia heads to Colorado on Friday, for a media event with Mountain Dew. Then comes Whistler, in British Columbia, for a vacation — snowboarding with friends.

Beyond that, Julia — an avid videographer — would like to make snowboarding films. “I’m close with a lot of girls from the Olympics. We talked a lot about that,” she said.

And why not? For Julia Marino — Westport’s Olympic medalist snowboarder — the sky’s the limit.

Click below for a video of Julia’s years in Westport, created by her mother Elaine.

Roundup: Staples Basketball, Lice, Julia Marino …

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Due to today’s weather, the Westport Weston Family Y is closed all day. It will reopen tomorrow (Saturday).

The Senior Center has canceled all of activities, including the lunch program. Questions or concerns? Call 203-341-5099.

In addition, the Westport Library has delayed its opening until 11 a.m.

Closed today.

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The Staples boys basketball team is gunning for their first FCIAC championship since 1962. It won’t be easy — but tomorrow’s quarterfinal game should be a great one.

It’s against Fairfield Warde (Saturday, 5 p.m.) — at Fairfield Warde. It’s a rematch of a fantastic contest a couple of weeks ago, when the Wreckers edged the Mustangs by 1 point in a thriller before a packed house. Though Staples is the higher seed, Warde is the site of all 4 quarterfinals.

Staples finished 15-5 this year, tied for 3rd place. They play exciting basketball, and Warde will pack their home gym with fans.

If you can’t get to Fairfield Warde, click here for the livestream.

Staples boys basketball fans packed the Wreckers’ gym, earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of The Ruden Report)

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Who knew? One of the unintended consequences of COVID is that head lice has pretty much vanished.

And who knew that that would have an unintended consequence: the closing of Hair Genies Lice Treatment, on the Post Road near Calise’s.

Just a month before the pandemic, Westport-based Sharkey’s was expanding its Hair Genies franchise with new locations in Houston and Frisco, Texas. Those were halted immediately. Now comes the closure of the Westport site.

The good news is that Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids — the parent business — is opening 46 new locations in 2022. Their original Westport spot is now the #1 location throughout the entire brand (104 current sites).

Sharkey’s newest brand — EveryHomeShouldHaveAChallah.com is also in full expansion mode. They’re leasing additional space on the Post Road to meet our expansion plans for both brands.

Hair Genies — aka Lice Treatment Institute — on the Post Road is closed.

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Westport’s 16th annual Martin Luther King Day program — a keynote address by Heather McGhee, whose book The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together spent 10 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, and whose TED talk “Racism Has a Cost for Everyone” reached 1 million views in just 2 months — has been rescheduled for May 18. The original January date was postponed due to COVID.

To attend in person at the Westport Library, click here. For the livestream, click here. To purchase copies of The Sum of Us, click here.

The event is sponsored by the Westport Library, Westport Country Playhouse, TEAM Westport, Westport/Weston Interfaith Council, and Westport/Weston Interfaith Clergy.

Heather McGhee

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Where do you go after winning an Olympic medal?

For Julia Marino — the Westporter who took a snowboarding silver in China — it was off to Milan. She’s sponsored by Prada, and Fashion Week beckoned.

Click here to see Julia on the runway. She’s on at the 7:55 mark. Just after (ahem) Kim Kardashian.

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It’s 2022. You know that practicing meditation just a few minutes every day can improve mental health and emotional wellbeing; increase focus, productivity, and creativity; promote kindness; reduce anxiety; manage addiction and pain; help heal grief, even regulate sleep patterns.

But if you’re uncertain how meditation can work for you: Relax!

The Westport Library and Pause + Purpose — the new mindfulness studio, across from the Library on Jesup Road — are partnering on a new monthly event series.

The event is called “Self-Checkout” (get it?!). The first event is next Wednesday (March 2, 6 to 7 p.m., Westport Library).

Emily Tuttle — founder of Pause + Purpose — will discuss why there’s a need for a positive communal space to explore meditation. That’s followed by a discussion on parenting during uncertain times, and guided group meditation

Click here for more information, and to register.

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Winter is still hanging on.

So is this creature — the subject of today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/Betsy Pollak)

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And finally … Mark Lanegan, part of the 1980s and ’90s Pacific Northwest grunge scene as a singer with Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age, died Tuesday at his home in Ireland. He was 57. He had struggled with drug use in the past, and been hospitalized with COVID last year.

The New York Times said

Though his stints in Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age and the Gutter Twins (a collaboration with Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs) never brought him the kind of fame achieved by other Seattle grunge bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden, Mr. Lanegan nevertheless drew attention for his deep, world-weary voice that could take a song to both soaring heights and melancholy lows….

His voice could be a haunting, mournful rasp, conveying mystery or, as he got older, weariness and vulnerability. Its evocative power made Mr. Lanegan a favorite of critics and especially of fellow musicians. Among his many varied collaborations were recordings with the British alt-rock star PJ Harvey and Tinariwen, a group of nomad African blues masters from the Malian desert.

And this:

In his memoir, he chronicled his journey from a “self-loathing redneck” to a rock star to a homeless heroin addict, and said (Kurt) Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, had helped get him to rehab after Mr. Cobain’s death.

Click here for a full Times obituary.

Olympic Controversy: Did IOC Contribute To Julia Marino’s Injury?

Kamila Valieva’s drug test and China’s treatment of its Uighur minority are not the only controversies of the 2022 Olympics.

Sports Illustrated reports that the International Olympic Committee is under fire after an injury to US snowboard silver medalist — and Westport resident — Julia Marino.

According to SI, the IOC demanded that Marino cover a Prada sponsorship logo on her snowboard, or use a different board. The fashion company is not an official Olympic sponsor.

Front Office Sports notes: “Marino and Prada have earned raves from the global press for the ‘Linea Rossa’ line, merging high fashion with action sports.” A Wall Street Journal headline read: The Silver Wears Prada.” 

Marino covered the logo, but fell during practice for the big air event. The sponsorship distraction may have been a cause. She later dropped out of the competition.

When Marino won silver in slopestyle, she had acceded to the IOC’s demand to tape over the Prada logo on her helmet.

Julia Marino (center) waits for slopestyle results. The Prada logo on her helmet was covered up. (Screenshot photo/Jeanine Esposito)

A helmet is of course less important to a snowboarder than the board itself. The US Olympic & Paralympic Committee took up Marino’s cause, arguing to the IOC that her board was no different than one that says Burton or Roxy — 2 famous snowboard brands.

The USOPC said that covering the log was “not a feasible option. The logo is molded to the board and altering it would cause drag and interrupt the surface intended to glide,”

Marino posted on Instagram: “The base of a board is important for your speed and not meant to have anything on it but wax, having marker and other things on the bottom basically defeats the purpose.

“Anyway, I dropped into the jump to see how the tailbone felt after taking a slam the other day in practice and after my base (was) altered, I had no speed for the jump and wasn’t able to clear it several times. Was just feeling pretty physically and mentally drained from this distraction and the slam I took … decided not to risk further injury even (though) that didn’t appear to be the top priority of the IOC.”

(Click here for the full Front Office Sports story. Hat tip: Dave Briggs)

Roundup: Julia Marino, Bistro du Soleil, Ben Esselink …

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Julia Marino’s dream of a second Olympic medal ended yesterday.

The Westport snowboarder — already a silver medalist in slopestyle — pulled out of the big air qualifiers. She had fallen in practice 2 days earlier, and injured her tailbone.

That was tough news, for her millions of fans here and across the country. But that silver medal will be on display soon. Details of a townwide celebration will be released soon.

NBC’s split screen last week: Julia Marino in China, the Marino family and friends in Westport. (Screenshot/Jeanine Esposito)

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“Body of Work” — an exhibit of Westport artist Ruth Kalla Ungerer’s prints and collages — opens at Bistro du Soleil this Sunday (February 20, 4 to 6 p.m.).

The show coincides with a return to indoor dining at the popular Riverside Avenue restaurant.

Ungerer asks, “Where else can you enjoy art and cuisine in such a welcoming setting? 

Works by Kalla Ungerer

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Bernard Esselink of Westport, CT died earlier this month. He was 81.

His family calls Ben “a loving and generous husband, father and grandfather who was shaped by a life spent all over the globe. He was exceptional in connecting with and making others feel valued, whether family, friends or complete strangers, no matter now different from himself. His balance of humor, authenticity and willingness to serve others was an incredible gift to all of us who loved him.”

Born to Dutch parents in Indonesia, Ben earned a degree in chemical engineering from Delft University in the Netherlands. He worked for the United Nations in Thailand. before moving to Singapore and a career with Colgate-Palmolive.  He spent the remainder of his career with them, in Australia, California, South Carolina and New York.

Ben loved sailing. and was an active member of the Connecticut Orchid Society.  He was also committed to his church, and regularly involved in his local Gideons chapter.

Ben was predeceased by his wife Heleena Tjeenk Willink, daughter Karien and brother Bert. He is survived by his sons Rik and Frank, grandchildren Saskia, Philip, Marik, Bjorn, Claudia and Andreas, and nieces and nephews.

He is also survived by his wife Jean McGilvray, who he counted himself especially blessed to have met and married later in life.

A celebration of Ben’s life will be held in April.

Ben Esselink

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“Westport … Naturally” celebrates Valentine’s Day with this beautiful arrangement, courtesy of Ellen Wentworth (and her dining room):

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

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And finally … on this Valentine’s Day, there are thousands of great love songs to choose from.

Here are a few of mine, from one particular moment in time. What are yours? Click “Comments” below.

Roundup: Mindful Drinking, Car Thefts, Olympics …

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It’s no secret that alcohol consumption has soared during the pandemic.

What is a secret is that few people have talked about it.

Westport Together — the town’s health and wellness alliance — wants that to change.

On February 17 (7 p.m., Zoom), they’re sponsoring an online roundtable discussion. “Mindful Drinking: Reimagining Our Alcohol Habits & How They Impact Our Relationships” includes local residents talking about the role of alcohol in Westport culture, and its impact on ourselves and friends.

Click here for more information, and to register.

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Yesterday morning at 7:40, a car was stolen from the Playhouse Square parking lot. It was soon involved in an accident near the office building across from Fire Department headquarters, though the car thief escaped.

Around the same time, a wallet was stolen from a vehicle parked near Trader Joe’s.

In both cases, the cars were unlocked. The vehicle that was stolen had the key fob inside.

These incidents are astonishingly common in Westport. For a town that prides itself on its schools, the simple lesson of “lock your vehicle — and take the fob with you!” seems to take waaaaay too long to sink in.

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Calling all Olympics fans — especially those who follow Westport’s own Julia Marino:

The silver medalist snowboarder has one event left: big air.

Qualifiers are set for this Sunday (February 13), 8:30 p.m. EST, on NBC or USA. However, that may be pushed back to Monday morning at 12:30 a.m., due to Super Bowl coverage.

The big air finals are Monday (February 14), 8:30 p.m. on NBC.

Go for the gold, Julia! (Hat tip: Matthew Mandell)

NBC’s split screen last weekend showed Julia Marino in China, and the Marino family and friends in Westport. (Screenshot/Jeanine Esposito)

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For over 75 years, “Soundings” and “QED” have published Staples High School students’ prose, poetry, artwork, photography and more.

The publications have won many awards — including most recently 1st place in the American Scholastic Press Association’s national contest. The publications show off our town’s teenage talent, and inspire countless students to find careers in the literary and visual arts.

For the past couple of years — for reasons both economic (budgets) and medical (COVID) — the magazines have been digital only.

Yet editors and readers know there is something special — still — about print.

To publish on paper, they need money. It’s not a lot — just $3,000 — but they’ve asking for help. Via GoFundMe.

Click here to contribute. And if you need a few dozens reasons why this is important, click here for “Soundings”‘ website.

Make sure you’ve got time, though. Those 7 decades of archives won’t read themselves.

A page from the 1983 “Soundings.”

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It’s a lone little tree, stuck in a tiny park with no name on the windy walkway from Old Mill Beach to Compo Cove.

But it’s proud. And these days, the mini-tree is sprouting a special Valentine’s Day heart (and garlands).

Love is truly where you find it.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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George Billis Gallery hosts an opening reception tomorrow (Saturday, February 12, 4:30 to 6 p.m.) for its new show. Adam Noel and Karen Recor are the featured artists, at the Main Street space.

Adam Noel, in his studio.

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Gregg Tenser writes: “Some mornings, I found my bird feeder on the ground. I wondered: Did we have a bear?

“Apparently not. Tonight i busted the culprit.”

And there it is — in all its “Westport … Naturally” glory.

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And finally … happy 60th birthday, Sheryl Crow!