Tag Archives: pickleball

Roundup: Pickleball, Trampolines, Duck Race …

The agenda for next Monday’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting (July 11, 7 p.m., Zoom) includes important discussions, such as converting the current Westport Rehabilitation Complex on Post Road West into a more modern eldercare facility, and redeveloping the 117-room Westport Inn into a smaller hotel with a restaurant, bar, event space, fitness center, pool and site improvements.

The existing Westport Inn (left), and the proposed new structure.

Two other interesting items are up for discussion too.

Birchwood Country Club wants to construct 4 pickleball courts, near their existing tennis courts. They’d fill a need — at least, for members of the private club — but they’re close to a few homes.

The ball will be in P&Z’s court.

The other intriguing item involves trampolines: Should they be regulated by zoning? And if so, how?

Most trampolines are above ground. But what about permanent, in-ground trampolines? A resident has asked for an interpretation.

Click here for the full P&Z agenda, including a Zoom link.

In-ground trampoliine.

=======================================================

Westport Sunrise Rotary’s Great Duck Race returns this Saturday (July 9). There’s a new location — Jesup Green — but the same family fun.

The day begins with a 10 a.m. Fun Fair in the Westport Library parking lot. Activities include a Nerdy Derby, face painting and bubble machines.

At 1 p.m. on Jesup Green, 3,000 plastic ducks will slide down a 160-foot sluice course. Each wears a number, matching a $20 raffle ticket. The first 10 ducks down the course win money for their ticket holders. First place is $5,000. Second place wins $1,000. The next 8 finishers get $500 each.

The event is a major Sunrise Rotary fundraiser. Proceeds support charitable endeavors in this area, the state and around the world.

Click here for tickets. Click below for a sneak quack peek.

=======================================================

The Great Duck Race is not the only water-related activity this weekend.

Sunday marks the 43rd annual Westport Weston Family YMCA’s Point-to-Point Compo Beach Swim. The mile-long event includes competitors from across New England and the tri-state region.

All proceeds go to the Y’s aquatics programs to improve aquatics safety in the community, including swim lessons for all ages.

There are 4 heats, based on ability. Advanced swimmers start at 8 a.m., followed by intermediate swimmers (8:05), beginners (8:10) and myTeamTriumph (8:15).

That last group is special. My Team Triumph is a national non-profit serving children, teens adults and veterans with disabilities who could otherwise not experience endurance events like open water swims, road races, or triathlons.

“Captains” (special needs athletes) are paired with able-bodied “angel” volunteers, who use specialized racing equipment such as rafts to pull their captains during the race. Special needs athletes who would like to participate must register in advance with My Team Triumph.

Eegistration can be done online at westporty.org/43rd and is $50. Walk-registrations costs $60, starting at 7 a.m. The top 3 men’s and women’s finishers win awards. Swimmers get Point-to-Point swim caps and t-shirts.

The start of the Point-to-Point swim.

=======================================================

No small potatoes: 19 teenagers and 9 adults just returned from Saugatuck Congregational Church’s High School Youth Group mission trip to Maine,

They stayed in Old Orchard Beach, and worked on a Growing to Give farm in Brunswick. The organization raises organic vegetables using climate-friendly methods, and donates them to food banks and pantries.

The youth group also cleared trails for the Saco Land Trust.

Saugatuck Church youth group, in Maine.

=======================================================

Whatever’s old is new again.

Back in the day, movies like “Casablanca” drew large audiences to drive-in theaters across America.

Most drive-ins are long gone. But Westport has one: The Remarkable Theater, in the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Last night’s screening was (of course) “Casablanca.” Here’s a classic photo, of a classic scene:

(Photo/Pippa Bell Ader)

Next up: “Caddyshack,” on Monday. Click here for tickets, and the full schedule.

=======================================================

Westport Lifestyle Magazine’s July issue is out. Among the highlights: a deep dive into the Westport Library’s Verso studios. Click here to learn more about the professional-quality production facilities right under our noses (and open to the public).

One of the Verso studios. (Photo/Brendan Toller for Westport Lifestyle Magazine)

=======================================================

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is this visitor to Franco Fellah’s garden. Judging by its looks, I wonder if there is anything left for Franco to eat.

(Photo/Franco Fellah)

=======================================================

And finally … on this date in 1928, sliced bread was sold for the first time (on the inventor’s 48th birthday) by the Chillicothe Baking Company of  Missouri.

There is no record of when the phrase “the greatest thing since sliced bread!” was coined.

(“06880” may not be the greatest thing since sliced bread. But we do rely “greatly” — okay, entirely — on reader support. Please click here to help.)

Pickleballers’ Plea: More Courts!

To the next person who tells me I should play pickleball: Join the list.

There are already 10,577 ahead of you.

My sister, a doctor friend, half the people in the YMCA locker room — all are pickleball enthusiasts.

Actually, they’re evangelists.

They tout the enjoyment of the game. The ease of learning. The health benefits. The camaraderie.

I wouldn’t call it a cult. Then again, I wouldn’t not call it one.

Pickleballers at Compo Beach.

I’ll play pickleball at some point, I’m sure. In the meantime, here’s a report on the state of pickleball in Westport.

In a few words: It’s good. But it could be better.

Everyone (except me) plays. Which means there are not enough places to play.

In fact, besides the 2 pickleball-only courts at Compo Beach, and 4 others that share tennis lines at Doubleday (behind Saugatuck Elementary School), there are no other public spots in town.

The Westport Pickleball Association aims to change that.

The 6-week-old group is well organized. They have a board. They have members. And they have a mission: raise awareness of the sport; facilitate its growth, and get more courts.

Compo Beach pickleball.

The pickleball push comes as the Parks & Recreation Department is undergoing a study of Longshore’s facilities and future. There are spaces available — like a parking area near the E.R. Strait Marina — and the WPBA wants to make sure every option is considered. They’re working with Parks & Rec’s Racquets Advisory Committee on that effort.

WPBA member Robbi Feinberg knows there are many considerations for new courts, whether at Longshore or elsewhere; topography and terrain, proximity to neighbors, accessibility.

But, she says, those courts are crucial.

Then she invited me to play.

(To learn more about the Westport Pickleball Association, email wpba2022@gmail.com.)

Tom Lowrie is 93 years old, and the face of Westport pickleball. In 2018 he posed for the Westport Library’s “I geek…” campaign  (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Roundup: JoyRide For Ukraine, AAPI T-Shirts. Pickleball …

======================================================

JoyRide — the very community-minded cycling studio — teams up with WestportMoms to host a “Ride for Ukraine” fundraiser April 13 (6 p.m., 1200 Post Road East).

Five popular teachers will team up. DJ Mo will spin tunes. A minimum $25 donation is requested; proceeds go to Americares.

Click here to purchase a free class credit. Choose your bike for the April 13, 6 p.m. class. Then bring your donation the day of the ride.

=======================================================

May is AAPI Heritage Month.

To get ready, AAPI Westport — our great local Asian American/Pacific Islander group — is selling t-shirts.

“Love comes in all languages,” the organization says. To prove it, the word “love” is spelled out in a variety of languages, around a heart. Click here to order.

=======================================================

Congratulations to Drew Douglas and Wendy Ford!

They beat Lauren Festa and Patti Brill in the 2-out-of-3 finals of Westport Parks & Recreation’s 1st-ever pickleball tournament.

Sixteen teams competed in the single elimination event, held Sunday at Bedford Middle School. Don Christopher ran the event.

Wendy Ford and Drew Douglas, pickleball champs.

======================================================

Real-world issues — the supply chain and labor shortages — have forced Westport Country Playhouse to cancel the first preview performance of its first 2022 production, “Next to Normal.”

The pop/rock musical was set to begin tonight. Previews now run tomorrow (Wednesday through Friday, April 6 to 8). Opening night remains Saturday, April 9.

“Next to Normal” is a story about a family’s loss and endurance. The lives of what seems to be a typical suburban American family are anything but ordinary, as the mother struggles with mental illness. The musical presents the family’s story with love, compassion and spirit.

For more information and tickets, click here, or call 203-227-4177.

The Westport Country Playhouse 2022 season begins with “Next to Normal.”

=====================================================

We’ve featured plenty of birds in our “Westport … Naturally” series. But this is our first mockingbird.

He (or she) sat recently on a gray Compo Beach fence, on an equally gray day. We have no idea who he (or she) was mocking.

(Photo/Jo Kirsch)

======================================================

And finally … in 1976, CB radios were all the rage. All of America, it seemed, communicated from car to car like truckers.

C.W. McCall — in reality Bill Fries, an Omaha advertising executive — picked up on the craze with an unlikely #1 song, “Convoy.”

Fries died last week in Colorado, at 93. Click here to read his full obituary. Click below to hear what the country was listening to, in that bizarre bicentennial year.

Roundup: Halloween Parade, Jeera Thai, Pickleball …

=======================================================

In the winter of 2020. Jeff Manchester emailed “06880.” He was concerned about the “incredibly dumb placement” of a utility pole at the southwest corner of the Post Road West/Riverside Avenue intersection.  He sent this photo:

(Photo/Jeff Manchester)

Jeff warned: “It will surely result in a wedged tractor trailer at the intersection (trying to get back to I-95), or worse yet a fatality into the pole.”

There’s been no fatality yet. But yesterday, Jeff saw a bad accident right there. The pole leaned precariously against the building, as police and utility workers were figuring out what to do.

Moving forward, it’s a state road. The decision — to move the pole, or do something to the road — is in the Department of Transportation’s hands.

Don’t hold your breath.

=======================================================

Get those costumes ready!

Westport’s annual Children’s Halloween Parade returns — after a year’s COVID absence — on Wednesday, October 27. Kids and parents meet on the Post Road at Main Street at 3:30 p.m.

The vent — for all children (“especially those 8 and under”) heads up Main Street, right on Avery Place, left on Myrtle Avenue, and ends at Town Hall and Veterans Green.

Children may trick or treat along Main Street, and in front of Town Hall. Entertainment, refreshments and a small gift will be provided n Veterans Green at 4 p.m.

The event is sponsored by Westport Parks and Recreation Department, the Downtown Merchants Association and Westport PAL.

Seen at a previous Halloween parade.

==================================================

Speaking of downtown: It has a new look.

On Saturday afternoon, 5 paintings were unveiled in the walkway to Bedford Square off Main Street. “Westport Illustrated” portrays the history — and future — of Westport.

The mural project is a collaboration between the Westport Arts Advisory Committee, David Adam Realty and Charter Realty & Development, with support from the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.

From right to left: Eric Chiang, “A Vibrant New Community Unfurls”; Iyaba Ibo Mandigo, “The Ground Beneath Their Feet”; Hernan Garcia, “The Tides of Change”‘ Jana Ireijo,. “Keeping Memories Alive”; Rebecca Ross (Westport) “Westport of the Future: Circa 2070.”

================================================

Alert “06880” readers know that Jeera Thai is one of my favorite restaurants. The fresh ingredients, wonderful spices and special flavors — all lovingly prepared — make every meal a treat.

Now my go-to spot is open 7 days a week.

They’ve announced 3 new weekly specials, too:
• Prawn phat phong karee กุ้งผัดผงกระหรี่
• Basil fried rice ข้าวผัดกระเพาะกุ้ง
• Panang curry with chicken แพนงไก่

Jeera Thai — across from Design Within Reach, next to Finalmente — is easy to overlook. But you shouldn’t!

Jeera Thai, nestled in a small space off the Post Road.

======================================================

A “Roundup” item last week about the Westport Astronomical Society‘s observance of Observe the Moon Night impelled Paul Delano to head to the observatory on Bayberry Lane.

He reports: “Everyone was very friendly and knowledgeable. Quite a few people were checking out the view. It was a beautiful sky and great to use the telescopes to see the planets. It’s at the highest point in Westport, so it has a great view of the sky. That night the moon, Jupiter and Saturn were the brightest.

“I got a new camera and telephoto lens recently that I wanted to try out. They let me set up my tripod and camera. I was surprised I could see so much more than the naked eye.”

Paul sent along a couple of photos:

Westport Astronomical Observatory, and the moon. (Photo/Paul Delano)

Moon, from the observatory. (Photo/Paul Delano)

=======================================================

The 2 pickleball courts at Compo Beach get plenty of action.

And when the pickleball players finish, they often hang around and chat. It’s a great sport — and a very social one.

The other day, the pickleballers outdid themselves. Here’s their feast:

To learn more about pickleball in Westport, email Tom Lowrie: tlowrie123@gmail.com.

=======================================================

A first-ever International Market & Festival is set this Saturday (October 23, noon to 5 p.m.) at Lachat Town Farm in Weston.

It features include vendors representing various countries, cultural music and dance, and markets with food from countries like Italy, France, Kenya, Pakistan, Brazil, Peru, India, Japan, Romania and Mexico. Children will receive a “passport” they can fill up as they visit each exhibit.

Tickets are $20 per family. Click here for more information.

Westport celebrates jUNe Day. This Saturday, Weston hosts its own International & Festival. (Photo/Jeff Simon)

=======================================================

Westport artist Kelly Rossetti is a featured artist at the Norwalk Art Space’s next exhibition (October 28 through December 2).

An opening reception on October 28 (6 to 9 p.m.) includes a DJ, dance performances, and the indie pop and folk duo East River. Click here for more information.

Kelly Rossetti

=====================================================

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is all about dogwood berries. Scott Smith writes:

“We all get festive celebrating the blossoming of our lovely native dogwood trees early each spring. But Cornus florida deserves a special shoutout this fall.

“The profusion of red berries is the most vibrant I can recall. Whether it’s the summer that just won’t quit or the autumn that can’t get started, I don’t know, but I’m enjoying it.

“So too are the many birds that flock to this windfall of nutrient-rich berries. Robins in particular squabble over the berry-laden dogwood in my yard, even though there’s more than enough to go around. Let’s hope the birds spread the seeds of these treats far and wide.”

(Photo/Scott Smith)

=======================================================

And finally … Peter Tosh was born today in 1944. From 1963 to 1976 he, Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer were the heart of the reggae band the Wailers. He then became a successful solo artist. He was killed in 1987 during a home invasion, at age 42.

Roundup: Pink Aid, Bagels, Pickleball …

=====================================================

Like many charities, Pink Aid CT has pivoted this year to a virtual event.

They’re calling it “virtuous.” Hundreds of items –will be auctioned off starting Tuesday (October 5, 9 a.m.). Among them:

  • A flight on Marc Lasry’s private jet to sit courtside and watch the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks
  • Private safari for 2 in Tanzania
  • VIP seating at Christian Siriano’s fall 2022 show, with backstage passes.

All funds raised benefit women with breast cancer in underserved communities.

A video about the event features the auction’s host, Westporter and “A Million Little Things” star Stephanie Szostak.

For auction tickets and more, click here.

=======================================================

Adam Goldberg’s pop-up bagel project at the Manna Hub kitchen has grown into a full-time operation. It’s packed on weekends, and a full-time store opens soon in Georgetown.

Now he’s going even bigger time. Adam was the only out-of-state vendor invited to compete at this weekend’s Brooklyn Bagelfest.

Can a little Westport bagel guy beat the big boys at their own game? Fingers crossed. Stay tuned!

Behind the scenes in the Don Memo kitchen. From left: Rachel Golan,.David Levinson
Jason Epstein, Adam Goldberg. (Photo/Ria Rueda)

=======================================================

Leonard Everett Fisher is a Westport icon. He’s a World War II veteran, a civic volunteer — and, for over 70 years, a nationally enowned illustrator, painter and designer.

He’s being honored through the end of the year by the Westport Library. An exhibit of his work — “A Life of Art” — is open at the Sheffer and South Galleries.

Fisher has written and illustrated hundreds of children’s books, and created over 700 paintings and 6000 scratch boards. The Library show features many original illustrations and acrylic paintings. 

It’s an exhibit not to be missed. Before you go, click here (then scroll down) for a virtual studio tour of this remarkable man.

Leonard Everett Fisher at Westport’s 2016 Memorial Day ceremonies.

=====================================================

The agenda for Wednesday’s Parks & Recreation Commission meeting (7:30 p.m., Zoom) includes a discussion of possible pickleball sites.

The meeting ID is 879 8059 1192. The passcode is 480909.

The Compo Beach pickleball courts get plenty of use.

=======================================================

Two great Nash’s Corner businesses are offering 20% off deals for new customers. You can combine them, or just take advantage of one.

Felicia’s Salon Nash — run by the wonderful Felicia Catale — provides cuts for women, men, girls and boys. with blowouts and coloring too. Call 203-747-9753 and 203-349-5814.

For 20% off 3D synthetic mink eyelashes — usually $180, now $144 — at Nash’s Lashes by Judy, call 203- 557-8964,

Felicia Catale

=======================================================

On October 1, 1961 — 60 years ago yesterday — Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.

A young Westporter named Robert Mull was there. It was the first Major League game he ever saw. His father captured all of Maris’ at-bats that day — including the shot off Tracy Stallard, his hat tip and more.

Now Mull has posted the video online. Click here to see. (Speaking of hat tips: thanks, Fred Cantor!)

Screenshot from the Roger Maris video.

=====================================================

The other day, Chris Grimm was scrolling through a site that sells t-shirts of defunct Connecticut businesses. (I didn’t ask for details.) He found this classic for Arnie’s Place, the video game arcade that is now Ulta:

======================================================

Next up for the Westport Astronomical Society: NASA astrophysicist Scott Guzewich discusses “Roving Mars with Curiosity and Perseverance.”

It’s a clever title, and is sure to be out of this world. Click on the October 19 (8 p.m.) links: Zoom and YouTube livestream.

=======================================================

The National Charity League’s Westport chapter invites 6th grade girls to apply for the 2022-23 year. NCL With over 275 members, the local group provides volunteer service for over 30 community organizations. Members are women and their daughters in grades 7-12.

The 6-year core program includes leadership development and cultural activities. For more information click here, or email lisa22607@gmail.com.

The National Charity League gang takes a break from volunteer work.

======================================================

The good news: Rebecca Schussheim, Lucia Wang and Tom Zhang  will represent Staples High School at the 8th annual Normandy International Youth Leadership Summit next month.. They were chosen because of their academic performance and interest in world affairs.

The bad news: This year’s event is virtual, so they don’t get to go to France.

But congratulations anyway, on a great achievement!

(From left): Rebecca Schussheim,Lucia Wang, Tom Zhang.

=======================================================

Samera Nasereddin describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

“Two baby raccoons visited our garden, and delighted my cat and me. They were very curious, unafraid and non-aggressive. We sent a photo to a local expert, who told us they were healthy 3-4-month-olds, learning how to fend for themselves. I’m so grateful for their sweet visit. I hope that they continue to be safe and healthy, wherever they are now.”

(Photo/Samera Nasereddin)

=======================================================

And finally … It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of Roger Maris. But seeing his name — and the video of his 61st home run — made me think of other famous players.

And of course:

Peeved Players In A Parking Pickle

An alert — and unhappy — “06880” reader writes:

For a long time, a number of pickleball players have used the parking lot behind 25 Sylvan Road South to access the public courts behind Saugatuck Elementary  School.

In fact, the Parks & Rec Department told those of us taking their clinics to park there. We park all the way in back. We rarely stay more than 2 hours — mainly on evenings and weekends

None of us have ever seen the back lot remotely filled, even during the busiest weekday times.  Yet here’s the sign we found today.

Sure, it’s private property. But is this really necessary when no real problem exists? A little heavy handed? On weekends, when the offices are basically empty?

I walked in with the Staples tennis coach, who was even more surprised than I was.

Okay, I won’t park there. But I certainly won’t rent space there either. Karma!

The reader emailed later, with a PS:

School starts soon, so the courts can only be used after school or on weekends. Most folks will just use the school lots.

And most of my pickleball crowd prefers to play at Compo, the new bathroom notwithstanding.

It was the mean-spiritedness of the sign that bothered me most.

Mr. Pickleball Turns 90

Tom Lowrie is “Mr. Pickleball.”

A tireless promoter of the game — and the driving force behind the Compo Beach courts — the longtime Westporter turned 90 years old on Tuesday.

Naturally, he celebrated it with pickles — er, pickleball.

About 30 picklers showed up to honor Tom. And they gave the new nonagenarian a great gift: a pickleball bench in memory of his wife Jean, who died just a few months ago.

A pickleball cake for Tom Lowrie.

Tom had a great time, with his many pickleball friends.

Then he went right back to work, pushing for more courts, clinics and programs for Westport picklers of all ages.

(Hat tips: Leslie Gallant and Patti Brill)

Unsung Hero #7

Tom Lowrie is Westport’s Mr. Pickleball.

The 89-year-old retired architect is the man who pushed the Parks and Recreation Department to create a court for the quickly growing sport at Compo Beach in 2015.

A member of the Parks & Rec Racquets Advisory Committee, he’s now advocating for courts at the Doubleday complex behind Saugatuck Elementary School too. He is proud to be Westport’s ambassador to the USA Pickleball Association.

Tom Lowrie posed for the Westport Library’s “I geek…” campaign with — of course — pickleball gear. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

But pickleball is not Lowrie’s only passion.

A longtime volunteer since moving to Westport in 1966, he was a charter member of the Sunrise Rotary Club. He received Rotary’s Service Award, and serves as the group’s unofficial historian. Though nearly a nonagenarian, he can be seen at every Sunrise Rotary event, doing the thankless work that helps them raise and distribute tens of thousands of dollars for good causes.

Tom Lowrie and a duck — a promotion for the Westport Sunrise Rotary’s Great Duck Race.

Lowrie’s contributions to Westport buildings include converting the downtown firehouse to the former Westport YMCA fitness center, and modifications to the Masonic Temple at the corner of the Post Road and Imperial Avenue.

Lowrie is also a longtime Westport Weston Family YMCA member. He’s also active with the Y’s Men. His pickleball and other activities — like golf at Longshore — help him say in great shape.

A Pittsburgh native, he graduated from Princeton University in 1950. He served in the Navy, earned his graduate degree from the Columbia University School of Architecture, and began working for Philip Johnson.

Lowrie married Jean Sammons. They raised 2 children here: Dave and Anne.

Most “06880” readers who know him will not believe Tom Lowrie is 89 years old. But all will agree he is a worthy honoree as this week’s “06880” Unsung Hero.

(Know of an unsung hero we should celebrate? Email details to dwoog@optonline.net)

In 2012, Tom Lowrie was runner-up in the Longshore Men’s Golf Association President’s Cup.