Tag Archives: LymanAID

Unsung Hero #293

It takes a village.

And two villages — Westport and Lyman, Ukraine — are indebted to an amazing villager, Connie Belta.

These days, Connie splits her time between Fairfield and Florida. But she was a longtime Westporter. For decades, she and her family ran the legendary Belta’s Farm (and farm stand) on Bayberry Lane.

Though not Ukrainian, she’s also a longtime member of Southport’s Ukrainian-American Club.

She was away last winter, when Westport adopted Lyman as a sister city, and raised over $250,000 to help pay for building materials, generators, communications equipment, police and garbage trucks, bulletproof vests, meals and more.

So this spring, she offered to organize a thank-you party for all those who helped.

And to raise even more money.

Connie Belta, at LymanAID. (Photo/Dan Woog)

“LymanAID” — last Sunday’s town-wide event — was special. There were free drinks, food, music and kids’ activities. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman Jim Himes and area selectmen offered heartfelt speeches.

And there was an array of creative ways to donate to Lyman. The money is more important than ever. Just 24 hours earlier, a Russian attack left 8 residents killed, and 11 injured. All were civilians.

It took a ton of volunteers to make LymanAID a reality. Connie recruited and inspired them all. Then, she put them to work.

The day included a giant raffle, a book pull, treasure hunt, sales of art and wheatgrass, and much, much more.

Oh, yeah: Connie underwrote it all.

Her brothers and their families, the Ukrainian-American Club, Ukraine Aide International, Mark Yurkiw, Steve Taranko, Sam Rossoni and so many others contributed to LymanAID’s remarkable success.

But Connie Belta was the heart and soul of it all. Everyone else followed her vision, and stood on her shoulders.

Congratulations, Connie, for being this week’s Unsung Hero. The entire villages of Westport and Lyman thank you!

(LymanAID is over. But donations through Ukrainian Aid International are still welcome. Click here to help. Under “Designation,” click the dropdown menu and select “Westport — Lyman Sister City.”)

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email nominations: 06880blog@gmail.com.)


LymanAID Lifts Westport’s Sister City

The final tally is not yet in.

But yesterday’s LymanAID townwide event raised deep into five figures for Westport’s sister city in Ukraine.

It was a chance to honor all who donated last winter, helping supply Lyman with building materials, communication equipment, home generators, bulletproof vests, police and trash vehicles, meals and Christmas gifts.

It came at a crucial time. Just 24 hours before crowds arrived at Southport’s Ukrainian-American Club, Russian artillery killed 8 civilians and injured 11 others, on the streets of Lyman.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas — who walked those same streets 7 weeks ago — were shaken by the news, and the photos their counterparts sent after the attack.

Tooker, and speakers including Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman  Jim Himes, congratulated the large crowd for their concern (and donations). Blumenthal spoke particularly strongly, denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “murderous war criminal thug.”

He also noted the importance of bipartisan support for Ukraine, adding that he spoke with Senator Lindsay Graham about that subject, in the parking lot while walking to LymanAID.

Several young Ukrainian children sang their national anthem. Blumenthal compared them to youngsters “climbing through the rubble, or in makeshift hospitals.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal (far left), with Ukrainian children and national anthem singer Olichka.

In a video recorded just hours after yesterday’s attack, Lyman Mayor Aleksander Zhuravlov described the scene in his town. He thanked Westport for its efforts to help.

The mayor’s words inspired one attended to offer — on the spot — to match all donations up to $15,000. A stream of people headed to the donors’ tent.

Lyman Mayor Aleksander Zhuravlov sent a video message, just hours after 8 residents of his town were killed by Russian artillery.

There was plenty to do, for all ages. The Mike McGovern Band played, and a Ukrainian singer from Hartford sang her country’s songs.

Booths offered free chili, chicken, burgers, hot dogs and pizza. Children had their own entertainment center.

Writing messages for Ukraine, at the kids’ center.

Organizers estimated that 500 people attended the afternoon-long event.

Meanwhile — thanks to the herculean organizational efforts of Connie Belta (who underwrote most of the event herself), and dozens of volunteers — there were many opportunities to give to Ukraine Aid International, the non-profit started by Westporters Brian and Marshall Mayer.

Connie Belta. A force of nature, she organized the entire LymanAID.

For $10, attendees could buy a pair of handmade socks, then write a personal message that would be delivered along with the socks.

For $20, anyone could buy a wrapped (surprise!) coffee table book.

Mark Yurkiw organized an art sale, including postcards with special Ukrainian stamps.

On Saturday Night, Aztec Two-Step (aka Dodie Pettit and Rex Fowler) played a sold-out show at the Levitt Pavilion. Yesterday afternoon, they headed to LymanAID.

There were planters of wheatgrass (Ukraine is one of the world’s leading wheat growers), quilts in a variety of designs, dozens of raffles (including donations from Westport’s other sister city of Marigny, France), and hundreds of “treasures,” all for sale.

And, of course, $10 bought a bottomless amount of “LymanADE.”

(LymanAID is over. But donations through Ukrainian Aid International are still welcome. Click here to help. Under “Designation,” click the dropdown menu and select “Westport — Lyman Sister City.”)

Enjoying LymanAID (from left): Fairfield 1st Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick; Weston 1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor; Easton 1st Selectman David Bindelglass; Senator Richard Blumenthal; Ukraine Aid International co-founders Marshall and Brian Mayer; Westport 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker; USA4UKR founder and president Olga Litvinenko; Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas; Ridgefield Responds chair Annetta Hewko. (Photo/Dick Kalt)

Marshall and Brian Mayer, co-founders of Ukraine Aid International.

From left: Senator Richard Blumenthal, Reverend Aleksander of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bridgeport, Fairfield 1st Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick. (All photos/Dan Woog unless otherwise noted)

Roundup: Hip Hop, Rubik’s Cube, The Baroness …

Are you ready for some LymanAID?

This is the day Westport honors our sister city: Lyman, Ukraine.

In the wake of yesterday’s Russian artillery attack that killed 8 civilians, and wounded 13 others, it’s more important than ever to show solidarity and support.

Today’s event is free. Attendees will enjoy food, beer, wine, soft drinks, music from the Mike McGovern Band, and more.

But there are a variety of fundraising opportunities too, including a raffle with many items (including a gorgeous Ukrainian quilt); a treasure sale, Yankee auction, coffee table book pull, plant sale, “LymanADE” stand and more.

Lyman Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov is scheduled to speak on a big screen. Senator Richard Blumenthal will be there, in person. So will Tooker, Koskinas — and many, many caring, concerned Westporters.

LymanAID is on today (Sunday) from 1 p.m. until dusk. The site is the Ukrainian-American Club, on the Post Road in Southport just past the I-95 Exit 19 northbound entrance ramp.


Peter Reid’s work is never done.

On Friday, the Animal Control officer joined with the Westport Fire Department to conduct a baby bird rescue on Main STreet.

Larry Gall and his wife Jennifer heard a killdeer crying in distress in a storm drain by 185 Main Street.

They called Peter. But the drain grating was cast iron, and he could not move it.

He called firefighters, who quickly pried it open.

Firefighters helping save the killdeer. (Photo/Peter Reid)

The baby bird ran through a pipe into the adjacent storm drain. The WFD popped that grating too.

Peter captured the killdeer with a net. He released her in the nearby driveway so was in sight of her parents, who were flying around agitatedly.

Baby killdeer. (Photo courtesy of Peter Reid)

The Galls helped keep the birds safe the entire time, even when the mother strayed into Main Street.

Eventually, Peter and the firefighters got the birds headed down toward the greenbelt by the river.

Craig Bergamo of the Westport Police Department directed traffic around it.

Congrats — and thanks — to all, for their team effort!


Maria Funicello is the very popular co-owner of Tutti’s.

Her great-nephew Mason Steven Dent was born in April at 24 weeks and 3 days, weighing only 1 pound, 12 ounces.

“This teeny tiny miracle has been a fighter since day one,” Maria says, “but his journey has had many bumps in the road. At only 2 months old Mason has undergone numerous tests and procedures, more than some people will experience in a lifetime.

Mason’s parents have been by his throughout the ordeal. Steven — Maria’s nephew — has been unable to return to work. Her niece Alexandra has worked remotely.

Medical bills and living expenses are mounting quickly.

On Sunday, July 16, Tutti’s will host a fundraiser. Maria and her husband Pasquale will sell pasta and meatballs for $25, for pickup between 2 and 5 p.m. Email funi61@aol.com to order. All proceeds go to Mason’s care.

In addition, the entire staff is donating all cash tips throughout the month to the Dent family. That’s quite a gesture.

There’s also a GoFundMe page — just click here.

Tutti’s has been a Westport institution for years. They’ve served us well — including people in need during COVID. Now it’s time to help the extended Funicello family!

Mason Dent


Fresh off their very popular VersoFest appearances, Legends Beats and Grooves return to the Westport Library. It’s one more way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip hop.

The free event — set for Sunday, July 23 (3 to 6 p.m.) — includes a panel discussion (with The Original Jazzy Jay, Cutmaster DJ Cool V, and Connecticut legends Doc. P. and DJ Slick Vic), plus a Q-and-A, and DJ performances.

Library director Bill Harmer was blown away by the VersoFest hip hop program. He notes, “The combination of educational elements, an intergenerational community, and the electrifying blend of knowledge and pure fun created a truly magical experience.”

Click here for more information.


The Library is certainly serves everyone.

Next Saturday (July 15, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), it’s the site of a World Cube Association Rubik’s Cube competition.

Spectators are invited, at any time throughout the day.


Noted physician and longtime Westport resident Dr. Martin Floch died last month. He was 94.

The Bronx native attended New York University, where he managed the track team. He earned a master’s of science at The University of New Hampshire, and an M.D. from New York Medical College. He completing his internship and residency training at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, and a fellowship in gastroenterology at Seton Hall in 1960.

He served as a captain and chief of gastroenterology at the US Army Tropical Research Laboratory in San Juan After military duty, Martin and his wife Gladys moved to Westport, where they raised 4 children.

Dr. Floch opened a private practice, becoming the first gastroenterologist in Norwalk. He was the founding chief of gastroenterology and nutrition at Norwalk Hospital, and the first in the area to perform endoscopic procedures.

While at Norwalk Hospital he developed strong ties with Yale University, becoming a clinical professor of medicine. He also developed the gastroenterology fellowship training program at Norwalk, and supported and developed pulmonary and radiology fellowships.

He served as director of the Medicine Training Program, chairman of the Department of Medicine, chief of gastroenterology, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Norwalk Hospital (1972-1978). At Yale he was chief of ambulatory gastroenterology,

Dr. Floch was the editor 5 medical journals, including the American Journal of Gastroenterology. He published 7 books, and edited and wrote for the best-selling Netter’s Gastroenterology.

Dr. Floch was elected a Master of American College of Gastroenterology and an American Gastroenterology Association Fellow. He lectured internationally.

Beyond his love of medicine, Dr. Floch was an avid sports fan, tailgating with his family at Yankees, Knicks, and Giants games. He also enjoyed photography, gardening, and traveling the world with Gladys.

Dr. Floch was predeceased by his son Dr. Jeffrey Floch. He is survived by Gladys, his wife of 68 years; sons Dr. Craig (Linda), Dr. Neil (Robin ), daughter Lisa Adelmann (Dr. Charles), daughter in-law Ivette, grandchildren Brandon (Dr. Stephanie Picon), Dr. Jared (Dr. Courtney Andres) and Justin Floch, Brittany Martin (Kyle); Cassandra, Samuel, Zachary and Brooke Adelmann; Sydney andJake Floch, and great-grandchildren Elijah and Benjamin Floch.

Contributions in Dr. Floch’s name can be made to “Norwalk Hospital Foundation,” and noted “Restricted to GI Fellowship Program. The address is 34 Maple Street, Norwalk, CT 06856.

Dr. Martin Floch


There has been no official obituary. But Baroness Gabriele von Langendorff — widow of Baron Walter Langner von Langendorff, who lived with her perfume “baron” husband at what is now the town-owned Baron’s South property — died on May 28 at her residence, a suite at the Pierre Hotel in New York. That’s where the Baron died too.

The Baron — founder of Evyan “White Shoulders” Perfume — and Baroness also owned what is now Winslow Park. She was his second wife. His first wife died in 1968.

A 2016 “06880” story quotes the New York Post as calling the baroness a “buxom red-haired widow” who — before marrying the Austrian baron — was “admired and pursued by some of the richest, most powerful men in the world, including Averell Harriman.”

The “06880” noted that a few years earlier, the New York Social Diary described her this way:

{The baroness] is easily spotted in any crowd, gilded or no because of her tall and tumbling flaming tresses, her satin and/or taffeta evening dresses, and above all, her famous milkmaid complexion — and above above all, her ensembles of astonishing jewels. Which are always in ample supply, generous weight, high lustre, and, in short, unbelievable on sighting.

The baroness is one of those individuals of indeterminate youth and age, to put it politely, whose legend, long having departed reality, provides a rich lore that may be more enticing than the facts (although maybe not). Her presence reflects a New York that is almost entirely a memory, where women were placed on pedestals (albeit, if temporarily) as birds of paradise, living paeans to glamour and luxurious living, to be adored, and above all, worshipped….

She has resided at the Pierre for many years now, and spends weekends at her estate on the North Shore of Long Island where when she entertains at dinner, the men wear black tie and the women of course wear long dresses and jewels. In the summertime, she leaves these shores for Monte Carlo in July and August.

The baroness still wears plenty of jewels. (Photo/New York Post)

Baroness Gabriele von Langendorff. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)


Tessie — the subject of today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature — does not seem the least bit interested in Fiona’s Disappearing Island behind her.

(Photo/Richard Abramowitz)


And finally … the Westport Library’s celebration of 50 years of hip hop (story above) got me thinking: a half century?

Yep. Hip hop culture dates to the early 1970s, in the Bronx. But the first

But Rapper’s Delight — in 1979 — is credited with being the first song to introduce hip hop to a wide audience.

(There’s plenty of stuff in today’s Roundup. If you appreciate this daily feature — or anything else “06880” serves up — please consider a contribution. Just click here. Thank you!)

8 Civilians Killed, 13 Injured In Attack On Lyman

8 civilians were killed, and 13 injured, earlier today (10 a.m. local time), when Russian artillery struck Westport’s sister city of Lyman, Ukraine.

An apartment building, business and 3 cars were set on fire by multiple rocket launchers. No other details were available.

Russian forces occupied the town in the spring and summer of 2022. Ukraine’s army retook Lyman in October. But the Donetsk region continues to be the site of fierce battles.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas — who traveled to the Lyman and eastern Ukraine in May — have been communicating with their counterparts in Lyman this morning.

“Our support for our sister city Lyman is more important than ever,” Tooker said today. “We have stood with them, and while mourning together, we will continue to do so.”

Today’s attack makes tomorrow’s LymanAID event honoring our sister city more important too (Sunday, July 9; 1 p.m. to dusk; Ukrainian-American Club, Post Road in Southport just past the I-95 northbound Exit 19 on-ramp).

It is one more way for our town to show solidarity with, and support for, our war-weary friends halfway around the world.

Tomorrow’s event is free. Though pre-registration is not required, a couple of hundred people have already done so. (Click here to register, and for more information.)

The day includes free food, beer, wine and soft drinks, and music from the Mike McGovern Band. Fundraising opportunities will be available through a raffle with many items (including a gorgeous Ukrainian quilt); a treasure sale, Yankee auction, coffee table book pull, plant sale, “LymanADE” stand and more.

Lyman Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov is scheduled to speak on a big screen. Senator Richard Blumenthal will be there, in person. So will Tooker, Koskinas — and many, many caring, concerned Westporters.

Roundup: David Grann, Jon Wormser, LymanAID …

David Grann recently returned to Westport — and his hometown Westport Library — for a presentation on “The Wager.”

He discussed his best-selling story of shipwreck, survival and savagery. He answered audience questions. Then he was joined by his son Zach, who wrote (and accompanied himself on piano) a song, “the Lost Souls of Wager Island.”

Grann is a master story teller — in print, and in front of an audience. Click below for the entire presentation. (Hat tip: Jeff Manchester)


The last time we checked in with Jon Wormser, the 2012 Staples High School graduate had just launched Good Weird: an easy-to-use, gender-less makeup and skincare line.

It’s going great. But that’s not why Architectural Digest featured him yesterday.

The story is about some tubular chairs he discovered in Portland, Oregon, and how they fit in his New York apartment.

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip:Betsy P. Kahn)

Jon Wormser, in his tubular chair. (Photo/copyright Architectural Digest)


New items are arriving every day for Sunday’s big raffle.

It’s just one part of the “thank you” party for Westport’s $252,000 donation of much-needed goods and equipment to our sister city of Lyman, Ukraine last fall.

The event — LymanAID — is this Sunday (July 9, 1 p.m. to dusk, Ukrainian-American Club, Post Road in Southport just beyond the northbound I-95 Exit 19 entrance ramp).

Everyone is invited to the free bash.

There will be plenty to do, see, hear and eat. Along with the giant raffle, the family-friendly day will features food, beer, wine and soft drinks; music from the Mike McGovern Band, a treasure sale, Yankee auction, coffee table book pull, plant sale, “LymanADE” stand and more. Lyman Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov will speak on a big screen. Senator Richard Blumenthal will be there, in person.

To RSVP, purchase VIP tickets and for more information, click here.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is one of our most gorgeous ever.

Taken at the Westport Community Gardens, Eva Toft’s image shows a small slice of the beauty and bounty on display daily at the Hyde Lane oasis.

(Photo/Eva Toft)


And finally … on this day in 1946, Micheline Bernardini modeled the first modern bikini, at a Paris swimming pool.

(Even an itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie donation helps “06880”! Please click here to support our work. Thank you!) 

Roundup: Colonial Gravesite, Bruce Hornsby, LymanAID …

The other day, Andrew Colabella put out a social media plea.

The Representative Town Meeting member asked for donations of perennial plants, to spruce up the plaque on Compo Beach Road, opposite Quentin Road.

The site is the burial ground for Colonial patriots, killed in the Battle of Compo Hill as they ambushed British redcoats on their way back to their ships, after marching to an arsenal in Danbury.

Gardener/landscaper Sue Goldman offered 4 hydrangeas and 2 astilbes.RTM member Kristin Mott Purcell provided 2 hostas.

Andrew supplied the mulch, and the volunteer digging and planting.

It looks great — and it’s a wonderful complement to the newly cleaned and shined Minute Man monument, a few yards away.

Check it out the next time you stroll by. Visit the graves too — they’re in the back, by Gray’s Creek.

Compo Beach Road burial ground. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

PS: Andrew is applying for a grant and funding to locate the exact grave sites. Older photos would help. If you’ve got any, email acolabellartm4@gmail.com.


A sold-out Levitt Pavilion rocked last night, to the music of Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers.



Bruce Hornsby (Photo/Nathan Greenbaum)

It was a paid-ticket event. But this week — as the Levitt has done for nearly half a century — they’ll sponsor several very cool (and free) shows.

Tonight (Sunday, July 2, 7 p.m.), Eight to the Bar brings their American roots music to the stage.

Celebrate July 4th (Tuesday, 7 p.m.) with the Jacob Jolliff Band, featuring some of the country’s top mandolinists.

Suzi Shelton headlines Wednesday’s Children’s Series (July 5, 7 p.m.).

It’s Americana rock on Thursday (July 6, 7 p.m.), with Chris and Marc Douglas Berardo.

Former Coasters lead singer Early Clover pays tribute to Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Otis Redding and more on Friday (July 7, 7:30 p.m.).

Internationally known (and Levitt favorites) Aztec Two-Step 2.0 — featuring Westport’s own Rex Fowler and Dodie Pettit — take the stage Saturday (July 8, 7:30 p.m.), for what is always a memorable show.

The week winds up next Sunday (July 9, 7 p.m.) with Charles Taylor & Uptown Swing.

All shows are free, but tickets are required. Click here for tickets, and more information.


Just one week remains before Westport celebrates our sister city of Lyman, Ukraine with a huge — and free — town-wide party.

Next Sunday (July 9, 1 p.m. to dusk), everyone is invited to the Ukrainian-American Club in Southport (just past the I-95 Exit 19 northbound entrance ramp).

The family-friendly event features food, beer, wine and soft drinks; music from the Mike McGovern Band, and more. It’s a way to thank Westporters for their $252,000 in donations last winter. Funds paid for building supplies, communications equipment, trash and garbage trucks, and hot meals.

But whether you contributed or not: Come celebrate Lyman, and learn more about our friends in that war-torn nation.

There will be opportunities to help too: a raffle, treasure sale, Yankee auction, coffee table book pull, plant sale, “LymanADE” stand and more. Lyman Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov will speak on a big screen.

VIP tickets ($350) include reserved seating, a commemorative gift, open bar, homemade Ukrainian-inspired meal and more.

VIP Plus tickets ($1,000) receive all benefits above, plus signage with your family name or company logo, a message for the Ukrainian people, and a Ukraine flag signed by Mayor Zhuravlov.

To RSVP, purchase VIP tickets and for more information, click here.

See you next Sunday!


Westport Veterans of Foreign Wars Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 has hosted Red Cross blood drives for 36 straight months. The collections have benefited thousands of people. One donation can save 3 lives.

The most recent event, on Friday, was sponsored by the Goddard School, a few yards away from the VFW on Saugatuck Avenue.

The next drive is July 19. Click here, then search for “vfwwestport” for more information, and to sign up.


At Friday’s VFW blood drive (from left): Phil Delgado, VFW Post 399 quartermaster, sponsor Kristen Bodenstein of Westport Goddard School, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Frank Veno, VFW Post 399 commander.


Westport Pride has joined 3 dozen community organizations in Connecticut and New York in condemning Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. By a 6-3 margin, justices sided with a Christian graphic designer who refused to create wedding websites for gay or lesbian couples.

The joint statement says:

“The highest Court set a chilling precedent that entities serving the public can pick and choose who they serve and deny services to queer customers. What’s more, it comes at a time when LGBTQ+ rights are under attack by legislators across the country.

“We, the LGBTQ+ leaders across New York and Connecticut see this decision as a dangerous step on an already roughly paved path towards fascism and the undoing of great gains we’ve made towards equality and justice for all. Freedom of expression should not be used to discriminate, especially against those most marginalized historically.

“We believe that our towns, cities, and country are stronger when we embrace the diversity of our communities and when we can live free from the fear of discrimination or attack.

“We call on all businesses to disavow the Court’s validation of discrimination and pledge to serve LGBTQ+ and all customers. We ask you to stand with us and staunchly against hate in all forms.”


“Westport … Naturally” often features deer. They are our unofficial town animal.

But we don’t usually highlight albino deer. They’re far rarer than the usual bush- and flower-eating, leap-across-the-road kind.

But Lou and Joan Mall see them regularly, in their yard. Here’s one, from this past week:

(Photo/Joan Mall)


And finally … before Bruce Hornsby formed the Noisemakers (story above), his band was The Range.

His song “The Way It Is” — a social commentary song about civil rights — reached the #1 spot in 1986.

(From Lyman, Ukraine to the Levitt Pavilion, “06880” keeps you in the loop about all things Westport-related. Please click here to help us keep doing it. Thank you!)

Roundup: Minute Man, LymanAID Party, Road Closures …

The Minute Man — proud symbol of Westport — looks prouder than ever.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

The 1910 statue was recently power-washed. Now it’s been refinished, and treated with a UV lacquer coating to prevent it from weather and foreign material.

Thanks go to Francis Miller, owner of Conserve Art. He’s the one who raised the statue a few years ago, to protect it from the elements.

Thanks to Francis, the plaque is now legible too. The next time you walk, jog or bike by, stop and read it. The history of the area — and the monument itself — is fascinating. (Hat tip: Andrew Colabella)


Signs like these are popping up all over town:

(Photo/Tom Kretsch)

They’re advertising the summer’s biggest (non-fireworks) party.

On Sunday, July 9 (1 p.m. to dusk), there’s a huge thank-you bash honoring our sister city of Lyman, Ukraine.

Everyone’s invited. It’s worth it just to see the great, welcoming site: the Ukrainian-American Club (just past the I-95 Exit 19 northbound entrance ramp in Southport).

The free, family-friendly event includes snacks, drinks, music and more.

There will be opportunities to help Lyman too: a raffle, treasure sale, Yankee auction, coffee table book pull, plant sale, “LymanADE” stand and more. Lyman Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov will speak on a big screen.

VIP tickets ($350) include reserved seating, a commemorative gift, open bar, homemade Ukrainian-inspired meal and more.

VIP Plus tickets ($1,000) receive all benefits above, plus signage with your family name or company logo, a message for the Ukrainian people, and a Ukraine flag signed by Mayor Zhuravlov.

To RSVP, purchase VIP tickets and for more information, click here. And if you’d like one of those cool yard signs, have questions, or would like to be a sponsor, email connievonzwehl@gmail.com.


Work has begun on the Whitney Street sewer project.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Between now and August 4, the road will be closed to through traffic during weekday work hours.

So all those drivers who used Whitney as a cut-through between Roseville Road and downtown (shush!) will have to head to the Post Road or North Compo.

But that would have happened anyway. Work on the Evergreen Avenue sewer has closed that important through road weekdays too.


A simple post on Facebook’s “Westport Front Porch” page urged the town to keep the rainbow crosswalk (on Jesup Road at Taylor Place), after Pride Month ends June 30.

By midday yesterday it had amassed nearly 400 likes, and about 300 comments.

Nearly every comment was positive — “It’s beautiful!” “It makes me so happy!” “There’s no time limit on inclusivity” — except for a tiny handful (“The rainbow is God’s symbol”; “What contribution or what value do the LGBT people bring to the table?…”).

There are several options to make a permanent crosswalk better suited to cars that turn, and New England weather. All material and work would be privately funded.

Meanwhile, a Change.org petition has also begun. As of yesterday afternoon, it had 147 signatures.

At 5 a.m. on June 1, Dr. Nikki Gorman (above) — one of the crosswalk’s sponsors — joined a dozen volunteers, including the 1st and 2nd selectwomen, and Public Works director, for the rainbow installation.


Pianist Janice Friedman headlines this week’s Jazz at the Post (Thursday, June 22; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m., dinner service at 7; VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399).

She’ll play with her longtime saxophone collaborator, Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall, plus bassist Leon “Boots” Maleson and drummer Brian Floody.

The evening begins with a presentation. The Jazz Society of Fairfield County — presenter of the weekly VFW post series — will give a $5,000 check to Ciara Bustillo-Rodriguez of Bridgeport, winner of their first Micky Golomb Memorial Scholarship.

Ciara will perform a few pieces with Janice and her group. She began studying music 8 years ago with the KEYS program.

She excels in both jazz and classical music, as principal flutist with the Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestra Philharmonic, and their Jazz Orchestra.

Ciara is studying music at Western Connecticut State University, with the goal of a career as a jazz educator and performer.

The fund was established in memory of Myron “Micky” Golomb (1931-2019),
a jazz saxophonist and educator who moved to Westport in 1978. The award will be presented by his wife Kathy and their daughter Becky.

This is the final Jazz at the Post of the season. The series resumes in September. Reservations are strongly suggested: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Ciara Bustillo-Rodriguez


This week’s “What’s Next in Weston” podcast explores the town’s new relationship with Silver Hill Hospital.

1st Selectwoman Sam Nestor and Human Services director Alison Lisbon discuss new help for people with mental health issues.

Click below to hear the latest presentation from the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.


Every day brings new joy to Westport gardeners.  All are “Westport … Naturally”-worthy.

This is part of Rick Hochman’s back yard, off Long Lots.

(Photo/Rick Hochman)


And finally … On this day in 1837, Queen Victoria succeeded to the British throne. She ruled for 63 years and 216 days — a record that stood until 2015, when Queen Elizabeth surpassed it. She lived, and reigned, for 70 years and 214 days.

(We’ll never forget Queen Elizabeth. Or Victoria! But please don’t forget to help support “06880.” Just click here. And thank you!)

Roundup: Traffic Survey, Fiery Crash, Real Estate University …

It appears another traffic survey is underway.

Devices have been placed at various points downtown.

Results will be posted, when available.

Meanwhile, here’s an early finding: There’s a lot of traffic these days.

Traffic survey device at Post Road East and Myrtle Avenue. (Photo/Sal Liccione)


Tragedy was averted at 8:30 p.m. Friday night. A northbound SUV driver on Newtown Turnpike went into the woods. The vehicle caught fire, but he was pulled out by a neighbor.

A nearby resident notes that young children live in the area. “The road is very dangerous, because drivers who use it as a cut-through speed by.”

The Fire and Police Departments, and EMTs, were on the scene. Eversource responded quickly, and replaced the downed power line.

Newtown Avenue car fire.


LymanAID — the huge party thanking Westporters for their support of our sister city in Ukraine — has a booth at the Yankee Doodle Fair.

Stop by today and tomorrow to learn about the big event. It’s Sunday, July 9, 1 p.m. until dusk, at the Ukrainian-American Club, Post Road in Southport next to northbound I-95 Exit 19 entrance ramp.

There’s music, food, drinks, and much more. And it’s free — though there will be opportunities to help support Lyman through  raffles, a treasure sale, Yankee auction, coffee table book pull, plant sale, “LymanADE” stand and more.

VIP tickets are available too. Click here to register, and for more details.

Katya Wauchope, at the LymanAID booth at the Yankee Doodle Fair.


Davide — the new Church Lane pop-up — is a year-old brand. Its first retail outlet features its second collection ever.

Davide (pronounced dah-vee-day) is the brainchild of Joseph Davide Tacopina. A Westport native (and son of one of President Trump’s attorneys), he attended Cheshire Academy and met students from around the world.

Inspired by his father’s ownership of several Italian soccer clubs, Tacopina’s collection blends “athletic culture” with pieces inspired by Marlon Brando and Lake Como. There is plenty of loose-flowing linen and silk.

The 24-year-old designer is self-taught. He chose Westport as the site of his first pop-up because it’s his home. He hopes to take it global.

Click here for more information; click here for the Instagram.

Joe Tacopina, with one of his designs.


Wakeman Town Farm’s annual Family Fun Day is set for Saturday, July 8 (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

The event includes ice cream, pizza, burgers and dogs for purchase, plus cocktails for adults, cold lemonade and iced coffee. 

There’s a scavenger hit, bubble show, School of Rock music, and visits to the animals. 

Click here for tickets, and more information.

This guy is ready for Wakeman Town Farm’s Family Fun Day.


There’s a new school in town.

Real Estate University — the school for aspiring (and current) real estate professionals, founded in 2005 by Karena Piedmont — has moved from Norwalk to Saugatuck.

The move felt right. She’s already trained scores of Westport realtors over the years. Classes are both in-person and via Zoom.

The address is “Saugatuck Lofts, 101 Franklin Street” — the exposed brick, co-working space in a former grain facility at the Westport Metro-North station, as you take a right at the end of Railroad Place. It’s literally “steps from the train,” for students who travel that way.

“There’s so much synergy here,” Piedmont says. “I share space with real estate attorneys and other professionals. I love being part of a community of like-minded, hard-working small business owners. I wish I moved here years ago.”

“And I love hearing and seeing the trains pass.”

There’s one more bonus: She’s also just a few steps away from “The Benjamin“: the Airbnb she owns at 35 Franklin Avenue.

Saugatuck Lofts


Also new: the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s director of gymnastics.

Former USA national team gymnast Bryon Knox brings over 40 years of competition. coaching and program development to his new role.

Most recently, he was head gymnastics coach at Southern Connecticut State University. Before that, he led the University of Bridgeport to 6 straight NCAA Division II national championships.

Byron coached 70 USA Gymnastics/All-Americans, and 150 scholar-athletes. He is a former USA women’s national team coach.

He has been with the Y part-time since October, coaching the competitive girls team and instructing coaches. Click here for more information on the Y’s gymnastics program.

Byron Knox


Rob Docters’ new book — “Ethics and Hidden Greed: Your Defense Against Unethical Strategies and Violations of Trust” — answers questions like, “How do we protect ourselves and our business interests from the unethical behaviors of others? Why doesn’t intuition serve as the best guide for detecting unethical strategies?”

The 1975 Staples High School graduate hopes to make people more aware of (and armed against) scams, as well as choosing more ethical choices themselves. (A strong animal rights activist, he covers the brutality of boiling lobsters alive).

Click here for details.


Charles McGillion-Moore of Westport helped Norwalk’s Maritime Rowing Club to a national championship in the Men’s Under-15 Coxed Quad, at least weekend’s 28th USRowing Youth National Championship in Sarasota, Florida.

Other top finishes by  Westport and Weston rowers include Men’s Youth U-16 Coxed Quad, 4th place (Adam Turner and Matthew Lupinacci); Women’s Youth U-17 Quad, 6th place (Mina Leon); Men’s Youth U-17 Quad, 7th place (Jack Cushman); Women’s Youth U-15 Coxed Quad, 8th place (Syke Coats); Men’s Youth U-16 Coxed Quad, 12th place (Fox Parker), and Men’s Youth U-16 Eight, 18th place (Simon Meyers).

The regatta marked the final high school event for Maritime’s seniors, including Dan Kleeger and Lilly Murphy of Westport, and Justin Sun of Weston.


Two years after taking over Rosebud Slumber Parties, Helen Martin-Elmer is expanding.

Rosebud has helped nearly 2,000 area children celebrate birthdays and special occasions with themed slumber, outdoor teepee and picnic parties.

This summer, they’re expanding to Westchester County. Click here for details.

A unicorn-themed party from Rosebud.


It’s a dog-eat-dog world.

Or, at any rate, a Sherwood Mill Pond “Westport … Naturally” scene yesterday, where cormorants chased breakfast, and egrets grabbed whatever was left.

(Photo/Matt Murray)


And finally … on this day in 1994, Los Angeles police chased OJ Simpson’s Ford Bronco for an hour and half. He finally gave up, and was arrested for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog — and a non-profit. Please click here to make a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you!)

One Month Left Until July 9 “Lyman AID” Townwide Party

In just a month, Westporters will enjoy one of our biggest bashes ever.

On Sunday, July 9 (1 p.m. to dusk), we’ll celebrate our sister city of Lyman, Ukraine. The site is the Ukrainian-American Club on the Post Road in Southport, at Exit 19.

Sure, it’s a few yards over the town line. But it’s a chance to thank all who donated to help Lyman last winter, and to introduce the still-under-siege town to those who don’t know it.

And though the cause is serious, the (free!) family-friendly day will be filled with food, fun and music.

The event is called Lyman AID (pronounced LEE-mon-aid, almost like the drink).

There is no admission. You don’t have to pay anything for snacks, drinks and entertainment.

But there will be plenty of opportunities to help Lyman too — including raffles, treasure sale, Yankee auction, coffee table book pull, plant sale, “LymanADE” stand and more.

There are two tiers of VIP tickets, too. $350 include reserved seating, a commemorative gift, open bar, homemade Ukrainian-inspired meal and more.

VIP Plus tickets ($1,000) receive all those benefits , plus signage with your family name or company logo, a message for the Ukrainian people, and a Ukraine flag signed by Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For information, email  connievonzwehl@gmail.com.

To RSVP, purchase VIP tickets and for more information, click here. To make a direction directly now, click here; under “”Designation,” click on “Westport-Lyman Sister City” in the dropdown menu.

NOTE: The entire event has been privately underwritten. No Ukrainian Aid International funds will be used. All money raised will go directly to Westport’s sister city. 

PS: Want to help promote Lyman AID with a yard sign? Text 203-216-1608 with an address; one will magically appear.

If you see these jars around town, toss in some change. It’s one more way to help Westport’s sister city of Lyman.

First Reflections From Lyman: Tooker And Koskinas Speak

Several days after returning from Ukraine, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas are still processing the sights, sounds and smells of that war-torn nation.

But they sat down with Dick Kalt, podcast director for the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.

In this special addition of the biweekly feature “Westport … What’s Happening,” Tooker and Koskinas — the first American officials to travel east of Kyiv, to the Donetsk Oblast — describe their visit to Westport’s sister city, Lyman. The trip was arranged by Ukraine Aid International, founded by Westporters Brian and Marshall Mayer.

They saw first-hand the life-changing impact of residents’ $252,000 fundraising, over the holiday season. They spent hours with their counterparts, Lyman’s mayor and police chief, cementing relationships that had begun by Zoom.

Though just a few kilometers from artillery shelling, they were well protected by military forces from the moment they crossed the Polish border.

Their time in Lyman was highlighted by impromptu meetings with grateful residents. Some put on their best clothes to greet the Americans, and say thanks.

Click below to hear Tooker and Koskinas’ first reflections from their groundbreaking, friend-making journey.

(The second round of donations for Lyman has begun. Click here, then select “Westport” from the “Where it is needed most” dropdown menu. And mark your calendar for July 9: A town-wide “Lyman-AID”  celebration with food, music and more. It’s free — but there are also many ways to contribute to help our sister city. Click here for details.)