Tag Archives: Saugatuck Rowing Club

Unsung Heroes #160

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink is its symbol — and the color of roses. What better way, Diana Kuen thought, to commemorate all of the warriors, past and present, who have been impacted by breast cancer than to turn the Saugatuck River pink?

And at the same time, raise money for charity.

That was not an idle notion. Diana is the director and head coach of the Survive-OARS — Saugatuck Rowing Club’s breast cancer survivor rowing program.

So last year, right before sunset, anyone who purchased rose petals was invited to scatter them. High tide carried them — biodegradable and freeze-dried — out to the Sound.

Proceeds benefited the Saugatuck Survive-OARS program, in partnership with the Smilow Family Breast Health Center at Norwalk Hospital.

Diana wanted an encore this year. The COVID pandemic made planning a tad tougher.

But — as breast cancer survivors know — perseverance pays off.

So this Saturday (October 3, 1 to 4 p.m.), the 2nd annual River of Roses will rock the town.

There’s live music. Chef Paul’s famous clam chowder, lobster bisque and butternut squash soup, charcuterie, hummus and apple strudel.

And more. Read on.

Around 2:30 p.m. — as rowers read names of breast cancer warriors past and present — they’ll scatter rose petals again.

Strewing rose petals, last year.

The event will be livestreamed on the Saugatuck Rowing Club website.

There are plenty of opportunities to help. Tickets are $75 each (with assigned seating). Rose petals are $25.

Saugatuck Survive-OARS has teamed up with a fierce group of young female entrepreneurs — the #SewSisters in Norwalk — to create and sell pink face masks.

Click here for tickets, rose petals and/or masks.

Pink face masks

All of that would make Diana Kuen and the Survive-OARS our Unsung Heroes of the Week.

But there are more.

In addition to the food and drink mentioned above, Donut Crazy — which did the same thing last year — said they’d donate a couple of hundred pink frosted donuts.

This has been a very tough year for the shop at the eastbound side of the train station.

They closed for a few months during the heart of the pandemic. Now rail traffic — their bread and butter — is non-existent. Donut Crazy is absolutely an Unsung Hero.

So is Copps Island. They’re contributing 300 oysters, with joy.

When Diane realized she needed a shucker, she asked Rachel Precious — the deliciously named owner of Precious Oysters — if she was available for hire.

Rachel replied quickly — volunteering her services. She’s a Staples High School graduate, a rower — and her cousin was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Rachel is an Unsung Hero too.

And how about a shout-out to Moët Hennessy USA. They’re sponsoring the River of Roses, and providing complimentary Chandon Rosé (of course).

Our list of Unsung Heroes would not be complete without including all the women everywhere, who fight their own battles with breast cancer, while reaching out to help others.

This month is for you. And Saturday is your special day.

Diana Kuen

Roundup: School Concerns, Supper & Soul, Parks & Rec & WTF Programs, More


As the reopening of school nears, stress levels are high. And they’re not just confined to adults.

Positive Directions — Westport’s not-for-profit center for counseling and mental health issues — offers tips for supporting a child with concerns about going back to school. Click here to read.


The Dead are coming to Westport.

Well, at least Terrapin: A Grateful Dead Experience, is. They draw raves, with their state-of-the-art equipment and true Garcia/Weir channeling.

They’re the next band for “Support & Soul,” the Westport- Weston Chamber of Concert/Westport Library drive-in collaboration.

Previous Supper & Soul shows — with Mystic Bowie, the Tom Petty Project and Mullett — have sold out.

Tickets are $100 per car (5 people max). The go on sale this Friday (August 28, 10 a.m.; click here). The Chamber urges concert-goers to support local restaurants, by ordering takeout for the show.


Registration began this morning for Westport’s Parks & Recreation fall programs. They include tennis clinics, Sports Squirts, IST Baseball and virtual at-home programs. Among the new programs: Skyhawks Hoopster Tots, Overtime Athletics Big Swing Whiffleball and High Fives Running Club.

Click here to see all programs, and to register.

Registration for Wakeman Town Farm’s fall programs will also be done through the Parks & Recreation department; just click here. Offerings include the Mommy (and Daddy) + Me “Little Farmers,” new Music Together classes, and programs for teens. All are safe, socially distanced and outdoors .

Questions about any program, or how to register online? Email recreation@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-5152.

 


An alert reader writes:

“In June of 2018, my wife was checking some flowers in our garden. She heard some rustling behind a large bush, and out popped a white deer.

“This prompted a bit of research. Only 1% of deer in the Northeast are white. In various cultures the white deer has some positive mythological significance. It can be viewed as a message from another world or the hereafter. This was startling to us, but in a good way.

“Two weeks before our first sighting, our family had put to rest a loved one just up the hill in the Christ & Holy Trinity Cemetery. So who knows?

“We continue to see the deer (there may now be 2) sporadically. Neighbors say  she (or they) are often sighted throughout Old Hill.”


Musicians everywhere have missed connecting with live audiences.

But when members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts and touring team attended the American String Quartet concert at MoCA Westport last month, they saw the potential in the museum’s outdoor stage, vast grounds, and the way  attendees maintained social distancing

So MoCA proudly announces a new concert event. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Spotlight features the Alexa Tarantino Quartet on Friday, September 4 (7 p.m, MoCA Westport, 19 Newtown Turnpike).  

Tarantino is an award-winning, vibrant young jazz saxophonist, woodwind doubler and composer. Jazz Times’ Critics Poll named her a Top 5 Alto Saxophonist of 2019.

Concertgoers bring their own lawn chairs and food. There are food and drink trunks on the grounds, too. Click here for tickets, or call 203-222-7070.

Alex Tarantino


Saugatuck Rowing Club past commodore Carol Randel and her team — the Randelles — are leading a fundraiser to help people fighting cancer gain access to healthy food.

The “Row for Recovery” event addresses an unseen problem. Area residents must often decide between food and medical treatment. The pandemic has made the situation more dire.

Row for Recovery — set for Saturday, September 12 at the Rowing Club on Riverside Avenue — will help Norwalk Hospital’s Whittingham Cancer Center provide prepaid grocery store cards to people needing good nutrition during cancer treatment. $100 feeds a family of 4 for a month.

Click here to register, and for a course map.

Carol Randel


Amy Berkin writes: “I was downtown for a meeting, and wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee on a bench by the river. Look at this! It’s awful that people are not throwing away trash, and no garbage cans are out. Very sad for the town, and the wildlife in the river.

(Photo/Amy Berkin)

And finally … today is National Dog Day! Arf!

Pic Of The Day #1171

Looking west across the river (Photo/Mike Hibbard)

COVID Roundup: No Camp? WTF!; Barbers; Playhouse Match; Senior Photos; More

How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm?

This summer at least, you can’t. Wakeman Town Farm announced that its popular Farm Camps will not run this summer. Officials cited the many restrictions put on camps by the state; the challenges of social distancing; the limited number of children who could be served, and “the unknowns related to pediatric reactions to the virus.”

WTF hopes to offer small tours and experiences, private family and corporate visits, outdoor curbside pizza pickups, volunteer opportunities and small-group apprentice programs. Details will be announced soon.


Barber shops can reopen on Monday (June 1). There are sure to be changes, in routine and personnel.

Three of Westport’s favorites — Chau Damico, Tony Esposito and Tina Cao — will be back at work. They’ve moved, though — but not far at all.

After decades at Compo Barber Shop, the trio can be found now at Westport Hair & Co. That’s the salon next to now-closed Olympia Sports, a few yards east in the same Compo Shopping Center.

They look forward to seeing the customers they’ve missed, and welcome their texts: Chau (203-278-0467), Tony (203-222-0303) and Tina (203-909-8781).


This morning, “06880” profiled the Saugatuck Rowing Club’s efforts to help front line workers, local restaurants, and club employees and members.

Now they’ve tweaked their logo. The goal of any crew team is to “pull together.” Saugatuck’s rowers may not be racing now. But every day since the pandemic began, that’s exactly what they’ve done.


The Westport Country Playhouse was hit hard by the coronavirus. All 2020 programs have been moved to 2021 (though a wide range of online content keeps audiences engaged). Financially, they’ve taken a huge hit.

Their “Survival Fund” goal is ambitious: $1.6 million. But it got a big boost this week, with a pledge from Edwin and Maureen Schloss. They’ll match every dollar raised — up to $250,000 — between now and July 4.

This would have been the Playhouse’s 90th season. Ed has been around for more than half of them. In 1969, he and his parents attended the world premiere of “Butterflies Are Free,” starring Blythe Danner and Keir Dullea. The show moved to Broadway, and Danner won a Tony there.

Tax deductible contributions may be made by clicking here, or texting WCPMATCH to 71777.


Staples High School’s seniors won’t get a traditional graduation next month. But they’ll be celebrated by Westport Lifestyle Magazine, in the August issue.

Hi-res photos — serious or fun — should be sent by June 5 to robin.chung@lifestylepubs.com. Include names, and a quote about summer plans or other positive thoughts.


Ariana Napier’s Bridgeport Rescue Mission food drive continues. Her goal is to collect 1,000 pounds of good each week.

Items most in need now: cereal; mac and cheese (box); jelly (no glass), and canned vegetables.

Fod and/or personal care items (diapers, wipes, sanitary pads, etc.) can be dropped in bins in Arianas driveway (14 Jennings Court, off Bayberry Lane). She will also pick up from your driveway. Email ariana.napier@gmail.com.


And finally … what has former Beach Boy Mike Love been up to these days?

God only knows. Well, YouTube does too:

 

Ssaugatuck Rowing Club Pulls Together In Pandemic

The boats are out of the water. The Boathouse restaurant has served only curbside and takeout meals. Yet despite the pandemic, the Saugatuck Rowing Club has been almost as busy as ever.

In true rise-to-the-challenge fashion, as soon as management realized closure was imminent, they reacted. They created website with a video library and daily livestream and Zoom classes.

Members had a choice: continue paying dues (if possible) for access to the “virtual club” site, or freezing their membership. Paying dues would allow the club to continue paying staff. Over 50 employees are being paid during the shudown, thanks to many members and owner Howard Winklevoss.

Saugatuck Rowing Club (Drone photo/Ward French)

US Rowing cancelled all regattas through June, which devastated dozens of young rowers. Parents had paid all racing fees in advance. But instead of requesting refunds, they donated the entire sum — $12,000 — to Feed the Frontline, a program that supports healthcare and other essential employees, while providing work to area restaurants.

Of course, like many restaurants The Boathouse at Saugatuck Rowing Club was  itself struggling. After reading an “06880” story about meal trains — SRC’s Diana Kuen had an idea: give food directly to Norwalk Hospital.

She sent an email to club members. In 3 days she raised over $8,500 — enabling The Boathouse to prepare 160 meals a week for the hospital.

Delivering Boathouse meals to Norwalk Hospital.

Kuen thanks the Saugatuck Rowing Club’s generous members — and the greater Westport community — for their contributions of over $20,000 to help feed healthcare workers, and keep local restaurants (including their own) afloat.

As for rowing itself: That’s continuing too (virtually). The 5-straight national champion junior girls and other teams are training on their own at home. Many have their own indoor machines. For those who do not, the club lent 65 ergometer rowing machines, and 12 erg bikes.

Ahead: next month’s online national event.

Meanwhile, with Connecticut restaurants reopening, The Boathouse offers outdoor dining. The view is great.

And — because privately owned boats are allowed on the water — you’ll see the welcome sight of rowers gracefully (and powerfully) plying the river once again.

The Saugatuck Rowing Club has weathered the pandemic. As always, everyone there is a winner.

(For a free 3-day pass to the Saugatuck Rowing Club’s online workout library and livestreams, click here. Questions? Email dkuen@saugatuckrowing.com)

A welcome sight. (Photo/Diana Kuen)

Row, Row, Row Your Erg

Everyone can row.

It’s a low-impact activity that builds both aerobic endurance and muscular strength. Cardio and resistance workouts burn ginormous numbers of calories, and use every major muscle group.

But not everyone has the time to get out on the river. (Or wants to — particularly before dawn, and in our fickle New England weather.)

Now they don’t have to.

Row House is open to anyone, for 45-minute sessions on an ergometer.

It sounds like all the work, with none of the fun. Rowers have love/hate relationships with “ergs” — rowing machines. Workouts can be brutal — but at least the reward is a boat on the water. The Row House is just a storefront, in Compo Acres Shopping Center.

Yet there’s something about that workout — competing against yourself, while rowing with everyone else (“all in the same boat”), with music blasting, lights pulsing and a coach urging you on — that keeps people coming back again and again.

Westport’s Row House is owned by Dana and Rob Montefusco. The couple — her degrees are in speech and language pathology; his in architecture and construction management, and he was a personal trainer — were looking for an exercise-related project.

Row House — which grew from its first Columbus Circle location in 2014, to over 250 franchises across North America today — seemed perfect.

Dana Montefusco, at the Row House front desk.

They opened last April. Now the 25 machines are in constant use. The youngest rower is 13; the oldest, 80. There are husbands and wives, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters.

Some rowers work out at 5:30 a.m., before the train. Then come people with flexible schedules. Late afternoon draws the after-work crew. Weekends are a broad mix.

Feedback is great. “I’m surprised — it was fun and enjoyable,” one person said. “I’m not in pain!”

Another headed to Row House after surgery. It was the only exercise her doctor approved.

A third liked the fact that ergs give a full body workout. (Rowing is 60% legs, 30% core and 10% arms, Dana says.) “I don’t have to do something else afterward,” he noted.

One of the 25 Row House ergs.

Row House works hard to make workouts fun. One day there is a rowing relay race; another day, one side of the class competes against the other.

Row House coaches are an attraction too. An eclectic bunch — they include business executives, marketers and teachers — they create a welcoming environment. (They also instruct newcomers on proper technique.)

Colby Mello is one of the coaches. A 2008 Staples High School graduate whose day job is in consulting, she runs evening and weekend classes.

“There’s a huge misconception about rowing machines,” Mello notes. “People think they’re devilish machines. That’s why they’re usually empty at the gym.”

They’re not empty at Row House.

Row House offers monthly memberships (4 sessions for $99, 8 for $135, unlimited for $167), and class packs ($155 for 5 classes,$260 for 10). The drop-in fee is $32. For more information, click here.

Pics Of The Day #1013

Hundreds of rowers — teens and adults, male and female —  competed in the Connecticut Indoor Rowing Championships today.

The annual event is sponsored by the Saugatuck Rowing Club. With dozens of ergometers though, it’s too big for the Riverside Avenue facility. It’s usually held in Easton. This year, the SRC kept it local: the Staples High School cafeteria.

Camaraderie was clear. The competition was keen. And the energy level — predictably — was high.

(Photos/Dan Woog)

Unsung Heroes #131

The other day, Saugatuck Rowing Club marketing director Diana Kuen noticed there are a lot of kids in the youth program — but very few teachers.

She figured one reason might be cost.

That’s an easy solve. So now the Riverside Avenue facility — which includes a state-of-the-art fitness center — offers half-price off memberships.

But Kuen did not stop there. She realized there are other town employees to honor too. So the Saugatuck Rowing Club offer is extended to Westport police officers, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders.

Best of all: This is not a one-shot, take-advantage-of-the-January-slump kind of deal. It’s good all the time, all year long.

The Saugatuck Rowing Club wins plenty of trophies on the water. Now they’re winners on land too.

Saugatuck Rowing Club (Drone photo/Ward French)

Pic Of The Day #999

Saugatuck River, seen from the Saugatuck Rowing Club (Photo/Nathalie Jacob)

Great New Festival Shines A Light On Cribari Bridge

Westport is filled with holiday treats. But the lights on the Cribari Bridge outshine nearly every other winter wonder.

Ever since Al DiGuido and a crew of volunteers first hung hundreds of bulbs all over the historic span nearly 20 years ago, however, the actual lighting has been a low-key affair.

This year, there will be a very impressive ceremony.

No, it won’t rival the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center.

Ours will be better.

The William F. Cribari Bridge, in all its holiday glory. (Photo/JD Dworkow)

This Friday (November 29, 6:30 p.m.), Westporters are invited to the Saugatuck Rowing Club. There on the patio — with a perfect view of the Cribari Bridge — there’s hot cocoa, spiked cocoa, Saugatuck Sweets sundaes, Donut Crazy donuts, cookies, popcorn, a hot dog cart, live music, a cash bar and more.

The actual lighting takes place at 8 p.m. But the party lasts till 9:30.

Kids go free. It’s $20 for adults — but 100% of the proceeds benefit Al’s Angels. That’s the organization founded by bridge lighter (and Saugatuck Sweets owner) Al DiGuido. All funds help children and families battling cancer, rare blood diseases, natural disasters and severe financial hardships.

The Cribari Bridge lights were created as a symbol of hope for all in town.

Let’s hope there’s a huge turnout of angels on Friday, when Al turns on the lights.

(For tickets and more information on Saugatuck Rowing Club’s Bridge Lighting Festival, click here.)

Another view. (Photo/Joel Treisman)