Tag Archives: Prospect Gardens

Roundup: Fireworks Trash, Long Lots, Prospect Gardens …

Thousands of people had a blast at last night’s fireworks.

There was wonderful community spirit. Friends met; strangers mingled; joy filled the air.

The one downside: Not everyone picked up after themselves.

Totney Benson notes: “Substantial debris was left behind. Most impressive was the carefully piled and bagged trash and pizza boxes a mere 15 steps from the trash bins!”

(Photo/Rick Carpenter)

So Public Works and Parks & Recreation Department employees were out in force, all night long and right through dawn, making sure Compo Beach and Soundview Drive look perfect for the weekend.

(Photo/Rick Carpenter)

Thanks to all who helped — those who cleaned up after themselves, and those who cleaned up after those who did not.

And if you left a mess: Just think about the message you sent to Westport.

Especially to your kids.

(Photo/Karen Como)


The Long Lots School Building Committee posted this on Facebook:

“The LLS Building is working through the feasibility phase of the project. The committee, along with an architectural design firm and construction management company, is still evaluating and discussing all three options for the future of LLS.

“Options include: 1) Renovate the existing school as new, 2) Renovate the existing school as new plus build additions, or, 3) Build a new school building. With all three options, the existing school needs to remain open and in use during construction.

“No recommendations or decisions regarding how to proceed have been made. The committee expects to make a recommendation to the Selectwoman’s office in August.

“The committee is taking great care to evaluate all aspects of the site to find the ideal location for a new building or additions, while respecting the residential neighborhood, maintaining town fields, ensuring adequate parking, and preserving or relocating town assets such as the community gardens – it is a challenging balance!

“While the school is the priority, the committee fully appreciates the beauty and value of the community gardens, as well as the importance of town fields and maintaining a symbiotic relationship with neighbors. At this point, the committee is considering all options before making its recommendation. We know the town governing bodies and Westport residents would want and expect nothing less.

“The LLSBC will hold its next scheduled meeting on Friday, June 30 at 10 a.m. All Building Committee meetings are noticed on the Town website. The public is welcome to attend and there is time for public comment/questions at the meetings.”

The Long Lots Elementary School campus. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)


Westport celebrated the 4th of July with fireworks last night, on June 29th.

But there are still 5 days to go until the holiday. And many Westporters will be thinking of more pyrotechnics.

Westport Fire Marshal Terry Dunn says, “The public has been overwhelmed with advertisement, signs, and sales pitches of so-called fireworks. The only legal ‘fireworks’ items in Connecticut are sparklers.

Sparklers are non-explosive, non-aerial devices that contain less than 100 grams of pyrotechnic material. They can be legally used only by persons aged 16 or older.”

Novelty items like party poppers, snakes, smoke devices and anything that emits a flame are not legal for private use in Connecticut. In addition to being illegal, exploding devices can cause painful, debilitating injuries.

Sky lanterns (small hot air balloons made of paper, with an opening at the bottom where a small fire burns) are also illegal in Connecticut. They can cause fires and injury. The flaming lantern can travel long distances and drop onto roof tops, fields, trees and power lines.

Our area has experienced dry conditions, making it very easy for fireworks, sparklers and fountains to cause brush fires. Extreme caution must be exercised even with campfires, as the fire danger has been elevated.

Possessing or causing to explode fireworks can result in a fine or incarceration.

Sparklers are legal — but only for people 16 and older. (Photo/Dan Woog)


Westport Police made 1 custodial arrest between June 21 and 28.

A woman was arrested for larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, identity theft and conspiracy to commit identity theft.

A companion had been arrested on similar charges earlier. They stemmed from the complaint of a First County Bank customer, after a fraudulent check of hers was cashed for $2,940. Her car had been broken into, and her purse stolen.

Police also issued these citations:

  • Failure to comply with state traffic commission regulations: 4 citations
  • Failure to obey traffic control signals: 3
  • Larceny: 1
  • Distracted driving: 1
  • Driving with a foreign license for more than 30 days: 1
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 1
  • Violation of readable plates: 1
  • Failure to obey stop sign: 1
  • Failure to drive right: 1


Over 30 Y’s Men of Westport & Weston members, and their guests, were treated to a tour of Prospect Gardens on Wednesday.

Owners Melissa and John Ceriale welcomed the visitors, who were led by curator/landscape designer/master planner Cindy Shumate.

The Prospect Road property includes nearly 9 acres of flowers, shrubs, lawns, walking paths, meadows, orchards, trees and more.

Y’s Men and guests, at Prospect Gardens. (Photo/Dave Matlow)


If you missed Alison Stewart’s WNYC “All of It” interview about the Westport Library’s first-in-the-nation record label vinyl release — no problem.

You can hear it — including an interview with sound engineer Travis Bell, artist Dani Capalbo, and some of the music recorded at the Library’s Verso Studio — by clicking here.

Travis Bell, at work.


The year is winding down for the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club. On Wednesday, new president Liz Wong was inducted.

They’re still smiling over last weekend’s Great Duck Race. More than 3,000 plastic ducks “competed,” raising more than $70,000 that the club will donate to charities.

Here’s the entire event, in just 42 seconds:


Stacy Prince offers an intriguing close-up, in today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Stacy Prince)


And finally … Bobby Osborne, a singer and mandolin player whose bluegrass band flouted convention by using drums, electric bass, pedal steel guitar, twin banjos and string sections — and were the first to amplify their instruments — died Tuesday near Nashville. He was 91.

The Osborne Brothers are best known for their 1967 record, “Rocky Top.” Click here for full obituary.

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Roundup: Baseball, Tennis, Gardens …

The road to the state championship ended one run short — and 3 innings extra — yesterday for the Staples High School baseball team.

The Wreckers’ Hiro Wyatt and Fairfield Warde’s Griffin Polley dueled brilliantly — and scorelessly — for much of the game. In the end — the 10th inning — Polley drove home the Mustangs’ winning run, in a 2-1 contest at Palmer Field in Middletown that was even closer than the score. It was the 2nd straight state title for the Fairfielders.

Congratulations to the Wreckers, and coach Jack McFarland, on their great run to the ultimate game of the season.

Hiro Wyatt — the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year — had a heroic season on the mound for Staples. (Photo courtesy of Staples Baseball)


Congratulations too to Staples’ number 1 doubles team. Karenna Birns and Audrey Kercher won the State invitational championship Friday, at the Milford Indoor Tennis Club.

The #3-ranked pair defeated Fairfield Ludlowe’s top seed 6-4, 6-3. They also won the semifinals in straight sets, over #3 Amity-Woodbridge.

Karenna heads to Georgetown University in the fall, and Audrey to the University of Florida. Congratulations to both — and to coach Jena Wider.

Audrey Kircher and Karenna Birns: state champs!


Speaking still of Staples: Westport photographer Tom Kretsch just returned from a tour/workshop in Washington state.

Walking around Pullman, he spotted pictures in many stores of the high school graduates, in windows and on signs.

He wonders if it’s something we could replicate in Westport.

Sounds like something to investigate. And it sure would be less intrusive than the epidemic of signs that sprawls all along the entrances to Staples, for every team and activity imaginable, which no one can even read.


And speaking again of baseball: The Westport Winners Challenger team, for players with disabilities, ended their 10th season yesterday with a special event.

A big party included player announcements and personalized trophies, plus free ice cream gift cards from The Porch at Christie’s.

Scenes from yesterday’s Westport Winners party. Coach Mike Connors (top left) has been with the program since it began in 2013.  

The Little League Challenger division is one of the best sports programs in Westport. Congratulations to all who participate — and all who make it happen!

The Challenger crew. (Photo and hat tip/Beth Cody)


Today is the open house at Prospect Gardens.

The public is invited to the magnificent Greens Farms property (Sunday, June 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; GPS either 13 or 25 Prospect Road).

Besides 9 acres of beauty and joy, Prospect Gardens offers something else.

Last year, the Greens Farms Garden Club has assumed responsibility for the 3-tiered vegetable garden, for their Growing For Good program.

Owners John and Melissa Ceriale turned over the space for their effort. All produce is donated to the Mercy Center in Bridgeport, at time serving as the only source of fresh produce for some of families.

Last year, the Greens Farms Garden Club donated over 1,600 pounds of vegetables. It’s a win-win-win: for the Ceriales, the Club, and Mercy Learning Center.

A small part of Prospect Gardens. 


The Westport Rotary Club is one of our town’s true jewels. Members never stop giving.

Earthplace director Tony McDowell (with trash bag) and other Rotarians hard at work, at the Gillespie Center. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)


Registration is open for the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s annual Point to Point Compo Beach swim (July 16, 7:30 a.m.).

The annual open water race raises funds to benefit aquatics safety at the Y, through swim lessons for children and adults.

There are prizes for top finishers — and a kids race too.

Pre-registration is $60; day of registration, $75. Click here for details.

The start of the Point-to-Point swim.


America celebrates Groundhog Day on February 2.

Except here on “06880,” where today — June 11 — it’s “Westport … Naturally Groundhog Day.”

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


And finally … on this day in 2002, “American Idol” premiered on the Fox network.

This became the best-selling song to come out of the show:

And this song has been covered the most:

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Roundup: Cops & Firefighters, Lacrosse, Dogs …

It was a tense game, with plenty of close calls.

But in the end last night, the Westport Police Department defeated the Westport Fire Department, 19-14, in a benefit softball game at Compo Beach.

All proceeds go to the Tommy Fund, supporting patients and their families undergoing pediatric cancer treatment.

The opposing teams smiled, and celebrated together.

The next game is Saturday, July 8, also at Compo.

Friendly foes, before the game. (Photo and hat tip/Andrew Colabella)


And after another close game yesterday: Congratulations to the Staples High School boys lacrosse team!

They defeated archrival Darien — as they’ve made a habit of doing recently — yesterday 9-8, in the state “L” (large schools) tournament.

The victory by the #2 Wreckers over the #3 seed Blue Wave vaults Staples into the state championship game. It’s set for tomorrow, 3 p.m. at Sacred Heart University.

That’s a fitting spot for coach Will Koshansky’s team. They’re the defending state champs, after winning their first-ever title last spring.

Their foe on Sunday is Fairfield Prep. The Jesuits are the top seed.

Go Wreckers!

The 2023 Staples boys lacrosse team.


Prospect Gardens – the magnificent Greens Farms property — is open to the public tomorrow (Sunday, June 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; GPS either 13 or 25 Prospect Road).

It was first settled in 1813. Noted landscape designer Cindy Shumate first saw the property in 1997; at the time, an 1874 farmhouse sat on an acre of suburban yard.

It has been expanded over time by John and Melissa Ceriale to 9 magnificent acres. Prospect Gardens now includes a Mediterranean garden, 2 orchards, an amphitheater, terraced vegetable garden, woodland walk and wildflower meadow. Winding paths lead from one area to the next.

Mark Demmerle will play classical guitar in the newly finished stone/grass amphitheater. It’s the first performance by anyone in the venue. For more information, click here.

A small portion of 9-acre Prospect Gardens.


June is dog license month. And all dogs over 6 months old must be licensed.

It’s $8 for neutered male or spayed females. $19 for male or female. There is a $1 penalty per month for renewal licenses issued after June 30. A $75 infraction will be issued for any non-licensed dog, and for any dog not wearing a tag.

Click here, then scroll down for online registration. To register by mail, click here. For all dog license information, click here.

Yeah, you’re cute. But you still need a license. (Photo/Dan Woog)


Speaking of Staples: The World Languages Department has awarded 215 “Seals of Biliteracy” to graduating seniors. The Seal “affirms the value of diversity and honors the cultures and languages in our community,” school officials say.

More than half of the seals — 126 — were for Spanish. Other languages represented were French (29), Italian (26), Mandarin (12), German (7), Latin (6), Hindi (2), and Czech, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Japanese, Marathi, Polish and Thai (1 each).

¡Felicidades! Alles gute! 恭喜你!


Blue skies are back. The orange haze and acrid smoke are gone.

But Charlie Scott is making sure we don’t forget.

The Staples High School junior — a talented photographer, videographer, runner and WWPT-FM sports announcer — has created a visual montage of the past few days.

And he’s picked an apt metaphor: “Blade Runner 2949.”

Click below for Charlie’s 53-second video. Let’s hope he does not have to make another.


Kathie Motes Bennewitz and Robin Jaffee Frank are Westporters.

But the women — executive director of the Hopper House Museum & Study Center/Westport town arts curator and senior associate curator of American paintings and sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery, respectively — cross the Hudson River next Thursday.

Frank will discuss “Social Distancing: Edward Hopper’s Paintings of Women Dining in Public” at the center in Nyack (June 15, 6 p.m.). She examines the artist’s “sexually and psychologically charged urban dining scenes, interpreted in the context of his life and art, and the larger history of women in American society.”

Click here for tickets, and more information.

“Automat” (Edward Hopper, 1927)


For the 4th year in a row, Church Lane is closed to vehicular traffic through the summer. It’s pedestrian-only, with outdoor dining and music.

Signs and barriers at Elm Street are pretty clear. But yesterday, one driver did not get the message:

(Photo/Molly Alger)


Former Westporter Frances Hyman died Thursday in Lynchburg, Virginia. She was 90.

The Roosevelt High School (Bronx) graduate met her future husband Leon through a mutual family acquaintance. They both loved classical ballet, and married in 1956.

They lived in Greenwich Village, Stamford and Sacramento, where Frances was a devoted member of Hadassah.

They returned to the East Coast in 1974 and lived in Westport for 45 years, until Leon died in 2019.

Frances led an active life here, volunteering for many causes including Save The Children , Dress For Success and the Stamford Arboretum. She loved Longshore, was an avid bridge player and gardener, and with her husband was a lifelong supporter of the New York City Ballet.

One of her proudest moments was participating in the 1987 “Freedom Sunday for Soviet Jews” rally in Washington.

Frances was also predeceased by her sisters Eleanor Feffer and Barbara Skydel. She is survived by her sons William (Sarah) of Manhattan, and Scott (Phoebe) of Lynchburg, and grandchildren Alexandra and Chloe Hyman of Manhattan, Samuel Hyman of Athens, Ohio, and Jonathan Hyman of Denver.

A graveside service will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday, June 11) at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Flushing, New York. Memorial contributions in her name may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association. To send online condolences, click here.

Frances Hyman


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features man’s best friend — with a new friend, in the Coleytown woods.

(Photo/Julie Blume)


And finally … speaking of biliteracy (see story above):

 (“06880” is your hyper-local blog — and a non-profit. Contributions are tax-deductible. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Taber Onthank & Britt Baron, Prospect Gardens, Havdalah …

In July 2021, Taber Onthank proposed to Brittany Uomoleale.

“06880” covered the story because:

  • They were well-known former Staples Players actors, and dated in high school.
  • The proposal was done on the Staples stage, with current students and even lighting designer Brandon Malin taking part.
  • Brittany — now known professionally as Britt Baron — was on several seasons of “Glow,” among many other roles.

Click here to read all about that great proposal.

Taber proposes to Brittany. (Photo/Kerry Long)

And if you read People magazine, you can read all about the marriage itself.

It happened Sunday, at the Ebell Club in Long Beach, California. The 130 guests included some of Britt’s co-stars from “Glow” and “The Thing About Harry.”

People noted their high school connection, and included exclusive photos.

Taber Onthank and Britt Baron (Photo courtesy of People Magazine by Albany Katz)

One detail that People missed: The wedding was officiated by Taber and Britt’s longtime friend — and former fellow Staples Player — Adam Kaplan. He was ordained for the ceremony by the Universal Life Church.

(Click here to read the entire People Magazine story. Hat tip: Liz Rueven)


John and Melissa Ceriale have spent 20 years buying property, planning and planting an oasis between Greens Farms Road and Hillspoint Road.

Prospect Gardens — nearly 9 acres of flowers, shrubs, lawns, walking paths, meadows, orchards, trees and more — are a delight for anyone driving on Prospect Road, or walking past.

Usually, the beauty can only be enjoyed from the street. But on Saturday, September 17 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

The event is sponsored by the Garden Conservancy. Tickets are $10 each. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

Looking northeast, on the Ceriales’ property.


This photo is not as pretty:

(Photo/Bob Mitchell)

It’s a bunch of utility wires on Coleytown Road.

Though they are bunched nicely, that’s still a lot of them.

And they’re hanging awfully low.

Recent “06880” posts and comments have mentioned the preponderance of wires — telephone, cable, etc. — and the fact that inoperative or outdated wires are seldom removed, just abandoned.

Every company that owns wires points fingers at everyone else. Meanwhile, this is what we’ve got.


On the eve of the opening match of Staples High School boys soccer’s 64th season, here’s news about the 63rd:

For the 20th time in 22 years — and the 17th season in a row — the Wreckers were honored with a national award for academic excellence.

United Soccer Coaches presents the Team Academic Award. A squad must have a 3.25 grade point average for all varsity players. The award is given for the previous academic year. In 2020, Staples’ varsity players had an average GPA of 3.67 — the highest on record for the Wreckers.

Indications are good that the 2022 squad — whose first home match is Saturday (10 a.m.) — will continue the impressive streak.

The 2021 Staples High School boys soccer team. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)


Speaking of sports:

For 8 years, Westport has supported Catch-a-Lift Fund. The national organization serving post-9/11 combat-wounded veterans through fitness programs and gym memberships has run fundraisers, workout sessions and more here.

The Police and Fire Departments, town officials, the VFW, and local gyms, restaurants, business owners and residents have rallied behind the cause.

Now our town’s support will be visible at every youth and high school football game. Every player, from PAL 4th graders through Staples seniors, will wear the CAL logo on their helmets.

This Friday, when the Staples Wreckers open their season at home (7 p.m.) against Conard-West Hartford, will be special: Catch-a-Lift veterans will be at Paul Lane Field, to cheer them on.

The Catch a Lift decal, on a football helmet.


The final Havdalah celebration of summer is set for this Saturday (September 10, 6 p.m.) at Compo Beach.

Hosted by the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, it’s open to all. People curious about CHJ’s philosophy and practice are welcome.

Klezmer and traditional music will be led by Adam Feder, founder of New York’s Shul Band.

Beach stickers are not needed; tell the gate attendant you are with CHJ. Attendees should bring dinner, beverages and chairs. Dessert and soft drinks will be provided.

Havdalah at the Beach. (Photo/Fred Cantor)


Jason Pike moved to Westport only in January. But he’s quickly developed an eye for special scenes — like today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature, in the middle of downtown.

(Photo/Jason Pike)


And finally … 25 years ago today, over a million people lined the streets of London for Princess Diana’s funeral. Another 2.5 billion watched around the world, on television.

Roundup: Shonda Rhimes, Moving Up, Pollinator Pathway …

Shonda Rhimes — the producer/screenwriter/author/global media company CEO/Television Academy Hall of Fame inductee — entertained, inspired and wowed a sold-out crowd at last night’s Westport Library “Booked for the Evening” fundraiser. Actors Tony Goldwyn and Scott Foley were there too.

The leader in both her industry and for women of color, Rhimes is known for telling great stories (check out Netflix!). On stage before an appreciative audience, in a conversation with Vanity Fair editor Rhadika Jones, she spent her evening in Westport doing exactly that.

Shonda Rhimes, at the Westport Library. (Photo/Jerri Graham Photography)


This is “Moving Up” week.

Ceremonies are held at Westport’s 2 middle and 5 elementary schools.

Dylan Chatterjee captured this scene yesterday, outside Bedford, where his sister Mia was celebrated. It seems symbolic: 8th graders moving toward the light of Staples High School, both literally and figuratively.

(Photo/Dylan Chatterjee)

Congratulations to all 5th and 8th graders — I mean, rising 6th graders and freshman — all over town!


Happy Pollinator Week!

To celebrate, Pollinator Pathways organizers in Westport and surrounding towns are showcasing properties — both public and private — where habitat-friendly landscaping is done. They’ll also provide information on how homeowners can create Pollinator Pathway yards of their own.

It’s this Saturday (June 25) at 4 separate Westport sites, all 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Earthplace (3 gardens), Prospect Road (privately owned), Smith-Richardson Wildlife Preserve (2 meadows) and Wakeman Town Farm (a 100-foot pollinator border).

Weston’s Onion Farm tour is also Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Guides and gardeners will be on hand, to answer questions.

Click here, then scroll down to plan your tour. You’ll also see Pollinator Pathway tours throughout Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester Counties.


 The Westport Public Schools and Westport Weston Family YMCA have teamed up to coordinate child care — before and after school – for youngsters in grades K-5, during the coming school year.

The program includes arts and crafts, STEM activities, themed projects, outdoor and physical activities, homework help and snacks.

Transportation will be provided to and from the elementary schools, and YMCA.

The before-school program runs from 7 to 9 a.m. for Coleytown, Greens Farms, Kings Highway and Long Lots Schools, 7 to 8:30 a.m. for Saugatuck.

The after-school program runs from dismissal until 6 p.m. Students who sign up for any youth programs taking place during after-school care hours — karate, swim lessons, soccer shots, basketball, gymnastics, fencing or dance — will be accompanied to their program by a staff member. There is a separate fee for those programs.

3-, 4 and 5-day signups are available. Click here for more information, and to register.


Sure, it was 2 days ago. But we can’t resist a good photo. Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the Levitt Pavilion during Sunday’s Michael Franti & Spearhead show:

(Photo/JC Martin)

Encore: Here’s a video of Michael, complete with a shout-out to Westport:

Looking ahead, the Levitt celebrates the final days of Pride Months with 2 performances.

Isle of Klezbos is this Thursday (June 23, 7:30 p.m.). New York magazine says their repertoire ranges from “rambunctious to entrancing: Neo-traditional folk dance, mystical melodies, Yiddish swing & retro tango, late Soviet-era Jewish drinking song, re-grooved standards, and genre-defying originals.”

It’s about time Levitt had some Yiddish swing and late Soviet-era Jewish drinking songs! Click here for (free!) ticket information.

Next week, it’s “Queer + Quiet”: an evening with Treya Lam (Tuesday, June 28, 7 p.m.). They’ll “lift up the underrepresented, quiet, marginalized voices in the BIPOC trans, non-binary, queer community.” Click here for (also free!) ticket information.


Speaking of Pride: Fairfield County Story Lab opens this Sunday’s Write-In to all LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly writers and creatives — for free.

At 2 p.m. June 26, there’s an hour of socializing. Work on projects follows from 3 to 4:30; then there’s a wrap-up chat.

The Story Lab is a shared workspace, on the 4th floor of Saugatuck’s 21 Charles Street office building. Click here to reserve a spot.


The June 27 (7 p.m.) Westport Library showing of the award-winning documentary “Four Winters” is noteworthy.

The film tells the story of the 25,000 Jewish partisans who battled the Nazis and their collaborators from the forests of Eastern Europe. The men and women — many in their teens — blew up trains, burned electric stations and attacked enemy headquarters.

But there’s also an important local connection: “Four Winters”‘ writer/producer/director Julia Mintz is a Weston High School graduate.

For more information, click here.

NOTE: “Four Winters” supporters have designed a program for screenings and talkbacks at colleges that don’t have Jewish Studies departments, or funding for Holocaust programming. Click here to donate.

Weston native Julia Mintz, with an interviewee for “Four Winters.”


Lou Weinberg is the passionate, creative and very hands-on director of the Westport Community Gardens. He knows flowers, trees, grasses and bushes — and birds, bees, rabbits and all other wildlife there.

He’s also a gifted photographer.

Here’s his description of today’s stunning “Westport … Naturally” photo: “This gray catbird is eating a berry from a serviceberry tree. This native tree produces flowers and an abundance of fruit for a multitude of birds this time of year. If you like birds, plant serviceberry trees!”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)


And finally … because this is the first day of summer:

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