When Staples principal Stafford Thomas took the Levitt Pavilion stage at Saturday’s annual Pops Concert, he announced: “We’re baaaack!”
He meant that his high school’s singers, orchestras and bands were back performing live, outdoors.
Saturday night at the Levitt Pavilion. (Photo/Dan Woog)
But it was a reopening of the famed summer entertainment center too. After sitting dark during the very dark pandemic year of 2020, the Levitt has announced its June calendar.
Get ready for:
Charles Turner & Uptown Swing (Sunday, June 20, 7 p.m.): Jazz vocals, vibrant swing, vrituosic bebop and vital blues.
Treehouse Comedy (Tuesday, June 22, 7 p.m.): Sit down in your lawn chair for great standup.
Aztec Two-Step 2.0: Rex Fowler, Dodie Pettit & Friends (Thursday, June 24 , 7:30 p.m.): The long-running, beloved band’s latest incarnation, based right here in Westport. 2- and 3-part harmonies, multi-instrumental arrangements and dazzling guitar work. Special guest: Chris Coogan on keyboards.
P.J. Facifico: Full Band Show (Friday, June 25, 7:30 p.m.): The band’s debut single, “Coming Up For Air,” premiered on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and shot to #1 on iTunes’ Singer/Songwriter chart.
Binky Griptite Orchestra (Sunday, June 27, 7 p.m.): Binky was a founding member of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. He’s played with Janet Jackson and Amy Winehouse, and hosts WFUV’s popular Saturday night Boogie Down dance party. Now Binky is heavy into 1940s rhythm ‘n’ blues.
The Suzanne Sheridan Band (Tuesday, June 30, 7 p.m.): The singer-songwriter and guitarist channels Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Carole King, Carly Simon, Gordon Lightfoot and more. She tours internationally, from her Westport base.
Joanie Leeds: Children’s Series Launch (Wednesday, June 30, 7 p.m.): The 2021 Grammy winner for Best Children’s Album returns with an all-new show. She’s inspired by Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Bade Ginsburg and more.
All above shows are free. To reserve a ticket, click here; then click on the show you want to see, for a link to options for a 2-, 4- or 6-person pod.
Ticketed benefits include Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers (June 14, sold out), and The Lone Bellow (Friday, August 6; click here for details and tickets).
Click here for more information on the Levitt Pavilion’s June schedule. The July calendar will be announced soon.
The Levitt Pavilion June season opens soon. (Drone photo/Dave Curtis, HDFA Photography.com)
We all know that Westport’s real estate market has been hot during COVID.
But did you know that it’s the hottest in the entire state?
Our town has gained 672 people since 2019, according to CBRE. That’s the most of any place in Connecticut. Other Fairfield County towns showed strong gains too. Cities like Stamford and New Haven lost residents.
Click here for a report from WTNH-TV. (Hat tip: Tricia Freeman)
Westport has been an attractive destination for homebuyers since COVID struck. (Photo courtesy of Compass)
It’s May, which means it’s time to … “click it or ticket.”
That’s the Westport Police Department’s annual campaign to remind drivers and passengers to buckle up every time they drive or ride.
All month long — leading up to the Memorial Day unofficial start-of-summer/ let’s-hit-the-road holiday — local and state law enforcement will vigorously enforce seatbelt laws for everyone in a motor vehicle.
Connecticut law requires that all drivers and passengers in the front seat regardless of age — and all children under 16 anywhere — wear seatbelts. Fines start at $92 for the first offense.
Attention, lacrosse (and all sports) fans. And anyone else who wants to honor our military.
Staples is the Staples High School boys lacrosse program’s 9th annual “Sticks for Soldiers” event.
The JV (12:30 p.m.) and varsity (2:30 p.m.) host Ridgefield. The Wreckers are ranked #5 in Connecticut. The Tigers are #4.
The varsity game includes a presentation of colors by the Westport Police honor guard, and a brief address by John Sabino. A Westport resident, he served as an Army Ranger in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia.
Donations at the gate go to Sticks for Soldiers, which raises funds for wounded military personnel.
Lars Bolander just opened a new store at 1300 Post Road East (opposite the Lexus dealer). It joins others in New York, Easthampton, Miami and Palm Beach.
The shop features contemporary furniture, textiles and decorative accessories from all over the world, alongside a mix of 19th century Scandinavian, European and Swedish antiques.
Highlights include tents from India, lacquerware from Hong Kong, faux Mediterranean olive trees, custom Venetian paintings and umbrellas from Bali.
The store is light, colorful and eclectic, with a mix of colors and styles. Owners were attracted to Westport by its artistic heritage, institutions like the Playhouse and MoCA, and the diversity of stores in the area.
Chris Kalachnikoff runs the Westport operation. His father and mother are involved too.
Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Susan Filan has been a trial lawyer, Connecticut state prosecutor and senior legal analyst for MSNBC.
As a child growing up in Weston, she found an arrowhead and mortar in the woods behind her house. Ever since, she’s been fascinated by the history and culture of Native Americans.
That led her to the Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy Master of Laws program at the University of Arizona Law. She just graduated, and is focusing on indigenous human rights.
She’ll start work on a doctoral degree in juridical science there. Her goal is to become an advocate and scholar, and teach, write and argue before international human rights bodies and domestic courts.
Click here for a full story on the University of Arizona website.
As of last Friday, the percentage of Westporters receiving at least the first COVID-19 vaccination dose is:
Age 65+: 93%
Ages 45-64: 83%
Ages 15-44: 50%
These vaccination statistics are encouraging. It is recommended that all residents who have not received the vaccine do so as soon as possible. Click here to find a provider near you, and book an appointment. To register for an appointment via telephone, call 877-918-2224.
Given the success of Connecticut’s vaccine rollout, Governor Lamont recently announced significant easing of COVID restrictions.
Effective May 1, all restaurants will be allowed to remain open until midnight. Beverage-only service outdoors will be permissible, and the 8-person limit on outdoor dining will be lifted.
Effective May 19, all remaining gathering restrictions will be lifted; however, masks will continue to be required in all indoor public settings where social distancing is not possible.
Westport municipal buildings remain open to the public by appointment. Residents are encouraged to continue accessing town services online. Members of the public may also schedule appointments for in-person meetings or other services that require additional assistance.
Residents can make appointments for Town Hall business. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)
Governor Lamont’s declaration for remote public meetings remains in effect through May 20. Town officials are monitoring changes to the declaration, and legislation that might allow in-person “hybrid meetings” (with both in-person and remote participation). In the meantime, public meetings will continue to be conducted via Zoom.
Planning continues for opening or expanding town amenities and activities:
The Senior Center and Toquet Hall are planning for possible outdoor and limited indoor programming in late spring or early summer.
As of May 1, parking emblems will be required on all vehicles to enter Compo and Old Mill Beach parking lots, and on May 29 for Burying Hill Beach. Parking emblem purchases must be made online at www.westportrecreation.com. Daily parking for non-residents will be allowed this summer at Compo Beach and Burying Hill Beach. Visit www.westportrecreation.com for daily parking rates.
The Parks & Recreation Department and Selectman’s Office continue to plan for a Memorial Day parade. July 4th fireworks are still under consideration, pending further guidance from the state.
Bill Vornkahl looks forward to a 2021 Memorial Day parade. (Photo/Carmine Picarello)
The Parks and Recreation Department is preparing to open its facilities, and plans to offer programs not available last summer due to COVID.
Longshore golf course is open for play, as are several tennis locations. The Compo Beach pickleball courts, skatepark facility, platform tennis, Compo basketball courts and playgrounds are open as well.
The Board of Selectmen approved the closure of Church Lane, for expanded outdoor dining.
The Levitt Pavilion is planning its season, to be held in compliance with COVID considerations related to outdoor venues.
Today, Progressive Diagnostics opened a same-day public testing site at the Saugatuck railroad station parking loto adjacent to Exit 17 on Saugatuck Avenue. Services are available weekdays (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Saturdays (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
Plans for townwide reopening and a “return to normal” are encouraging, but we should be cautiously optimistic. According to the state Department of Public Health, 122 municipalities out of 169 (including Westport) remain in the highest COVID alert level (red). This is cause for concern, though more recent daily statistics indicate a downward curve in the spread.
It is also important to understand that being vaccinated does not prevent individuals from being COVID positive and transmitting the virus. Ccontinue to remain informed, and balance COVID safety with personal priorities for physical and mental well-being. This includes being empathetic to those around you, and the individual choices they make.
I encourage those who are vaccinated to be respectful of those who are not, or have differing opinions about the current guidelines and status of the pandemic. Westport town officials will continue to follow and employ science experts’ advice and guidance, so that all in our community will be safe and healthy.
Despite rising vaccination rates, masks continue to be important.
It’s April break for the Westport schools. And “official” opening week for the Remarkable Theater.
The Imperial Avenue parking lot lineup is a great one.
Today (Tuesday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.): “Minari.” Nominated for 6 Oscars this year, including Best Picture. A Korean-American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream.
Prior to the movie, a documentary short featuring Westport’s Asian-American rally organizers will be shown. It’s produced by 4th Row Films, in association with the Remarkable Theater.
In it, local residents share their experiences growing up, their journey to Westport. and how they’re raising awareness of rising Asian hate by forming a group (they’re on Instagram: @AAPIWestport or email: AAPIWestport@gmail.com).
Official opening night is Friday, April 16 (7:30 p.m.): “The Goonies.” In this 1985 adventure comedy, a bunch of kids trying to save their homes from foreclosure embark on a treasure hunt adventure.
Saturday, April 17 (7:45 p.m.): “Mamma Mia!” ABBA stars in the best sing-along movie ever made.
Wednesday, April 21: “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.” One-time local residents Paul Newman and Robert Redford star in this 1969 classic.
The night includes 4 short non-fiction documentary films before the feature:
“Gatsby in Westport“: Deej Webb helps convince you that Westport is the town that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby.”
“Paul Shows Bob the New Playhouse”: A scene from the upcoming documentary about the Westport Country Playhouse.“
“A Townie Breakfast Sandwich”: A tour of Westport’s breakfast sandwiches, including Calise’s, Village Bagels and Coffee An’.
“Westport This Used to Be”: featuring Jill Gault and Antonio Antonelli.
Click here for tickets. Not all shows may be available yet. The Imperial Avenue lot opens an hour before showtime, for tailgating.
A couple of local guys starred in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
Starting May 2, children younger than 2 years old are welcome back to the Westport Library. A press release says, “We gladly welcome them to borrow books, audiobooks, CDs, and magazines.” I’m guessing most of that borrowing will be done for them, by somewhat older people.
The Westport Library welcomes children under 2 soon. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)
1st Selectman Jim Marpe issued another COVID update today. It includes information about vaccines — and word that the town is planning for a Memorial Day parade, and a Levitt Pavilion season. He says:
Beginning today, all Connecticut residents and workers aged 16 and older are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. For local vaccine scheduling instructions and locations, go to www.wwhd.org.
Health officials urge all who are able and eligible to register to get vaccinated. Those requiring special services and assistance with homebound vaccinations or transportation to vaccination appointments through Westport Transit should contact the town Department of Human Services (203-341-1050).
Fortunately, many of the most vulnerable in Westport are already vaccinated. They are enjoying the peace of mind and the realization that they are doing their part to help our community, neighbors, families and friends move into a spring and summer with less fear of infection from this horrible virus.
Although numerous people have been vaccinated, it is vital that COVID protocols remain in place until we are certain that transmission is decreasing.
Currently there is a surge in COVID-19 cases in Connecticut, and Westport remains in the red category with 28.5 positive cases per 100,000 population. We are seeing the effects of more social gatherings, travel, and a relaxation of COVID protocols.
Travel increases the chance of getting and transmitting COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control recommends that you refrain from non-essential travel and follow the travel guidelines,
The CDC also recommends continuing to follow its COVID guidelines and protocols, specifically mask wearing, social distancing and good hygiene, even as restrictions are loosened and the vaccine is further administered.
“Masked COVID Portrait” — drawn by Dereje Tarrant, age 14.
Much of the uptick in cases is occurring in younger residents, and those in their 20’s and 30’s. There have been reports of large teen and youth groups gathering at Compo Beach without masks. Parents, please remind your children to wear masks when they cannot socially distance, even at the beach and other outdoor locations.
The Governor’s Executive Orders declaring a state-of-emergency have been extended to May 20. That means that COVID protocols and restrictions remain in place unless noted otherwise.
The town continues to work towards reopening more amenities and activities with the optimism that Westport will return to the yellow or gray status on the State’s color-coded COVID map, and that more people will be fully vaccinated. These include:
The Center for Senior Activities and Toquet Hall are planning for the possibility of outdoor and limited indoor programming in late spring or early summer.
The Parks & Recreation Department and Selectman’s Office continue to plan for a Memorial Day parade.
The Parks and Recreation Department is preparing to open its facilities, and plan to offer programs that were not available last year due to COVID-19.
Longshore golf course is open for play, as are several tennis locations, Compo Beach pickleball courts, the skate park facility, platform tennis, Compo basketball courts, and playgrounds.
Compo Skate Park is back open. (Photo/ldinkinphotography)
The Board of Selectmen approved the Downtown Merchants Association’s Fitness and Health Expo for May 1,, and the Fine Arts Festival for May 29-30.
The Board of Selectmen approved the closure of Church Lane starting April 15, to allow for expanded outdoor dining.
The Board of Selectmen approved the use of the Imperial Avenue lot for the Remarkable Theater’s drive-in movie theater. and for the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library’s Supper and Soul events.
The Levitt Pavilion is planning its season, to be held in compliance with any necessary COVID considerations related to outdoor venues.
Westport is approaching the end of the Passover week, as well as this Easter weekend. Both are important symbols of renewal and new beginnings that we associate with the arrival of spring. I wish all who observe these important holidays the joy that is associated with those celebrations.
And to all Westport residents, I ask for a renewed commitment to working through the COVID pandemic together in a safe and responsible manner. In doing so, we can all enjoy the pleasures of our community that come with the spring and summer months.
As Easter approaches, the days get longer and brighter. But continued vigilance is needed. (Photo/Craig Patton)
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