The news that not one but two gelato shops are coming to Main Street is mouth-watering. They’ll be packed, and add plenty of life to downtown.
But they won’t be the first such places.
In 1954, the Ice Cream Parlor opened where Brandy Melville is now. It was an instant hit. Fred Cantor found this story from that year:
Several years later, the Ice Cream Parlor moved to Compo Shopping Center, where Cohen’s Fashion Optical is now. Its final location was on Post Road East just past Colonial Green, in what is now an office building.
Generations of Westporters remember the Ice Cream Parlor’s wrought iron chairs, penny candy, ice cream concoctions, and the “Pig’s Trough.” If you finished it, you didn’t have to pay. It was $69.95 half a century ago. That’s serious money.
A small portion of the Ice Cream Parlor menu. “The Pigs Trough” cost $69.95 — but was free if one person could eat it all in 3 hours. Above it was the “Staples Fruit Delight,” a large $2 sundae.
And of course, there was the menu, signed by everyone famous who ever enjoyed the Ice Cream Parlor.
Today’s kids are making their own childhood memories at Saugatuck Sweets — the modern-day Ice Cream Parlor.
Soon, we’ll add gelato shops to the mix. Here’s wishing them long, fruitful lives here.
And if they really want to win our hearts, they should add a Pig’s Trough.
Westporters love Tom Kretsch’s photos. They love Saugatuck Sweets. And they love Al’s Angels.
So plan to stop by the ice cream shop patio on the river tomorrow (Saturday, October 10, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Kretsch will display his evocative images — many of his home town.
A percentage of all sales benefits Al’s Angels, the nonprofit started by Saugatuck Sweets owner Al DiGuido to help families with children battling cancer, and families with food needs.
Last weekend, 35 mothers and daughters from Westport’s National Charity League spent a cleaning Compo Beach. The effort supported NCL’s philanthropy partner, Save the Sound.
Volunteers removed over 45 pounds of garbage from the beach. They found PPE, plastic bags, straws and food wrappers, along with 235 cigarette butts, 160 bottle caps and 33 balloons. Data collected will help Save the Sound stop debris at its source.
A small bit of all the trash.
What’s new at the Senior Center?
Its first-ever pumpkin decorating contest. It’s October 30 (11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.).
Submissions will be judged on originality and scariness. Members can vote for their favorite pumpkins while picking up a drive-through lunch (chicken pot pie, salad, roll, cookie and Halloween treats) from staff members (in costumes).
Seniors can enjoy their meal while socially distancing in the parking lot. Prizes include a Halloween goodie bucket, and a gift card for a Senior Center luncheon.
Lunch is $8. The cost to enter the contest: free (and priceless).
ADL Connecticut’s 10th annual Walk Against Hate will look from the first 9. Though participants can’t join together physically, they’ll still send a powerful message.
Individuals, families, friends, colleagues and teammates are invited to get creative. They can walk wherever they want, from October 12-18. Registration is free, though fundraising is encouraged to help ADL fight anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of hate.
Fundraisers who give or get more than $50 get an ADL bandanna. The first 1,000 people to raise over $150 receive t-shirts.
ADL Connecticut has a strong Westport presence. Director Steve Ginsburg lives here; so does Walk Against Hate chair Claudia Cohen.
Jill Nadel chairs the outreach committee). Terry Bernard, Shelly Herst, Margie Jacobson, Ken Backman, Sara Weiner (co-chair of the education committee), Bret Weiner, Chuck Harris, Liz Kaner, Lynne Goldstein and John Kaufman are all on ADL’s state board. Many other Westporters serve in other capacities.
To register for or donate to the Walk Against Hate, click here.
Instead of a traditional luncheon, the American Cancer Society’s annual “Women Leading the Way to Wellness” event (Wednesday, November 18), is on Facebook Live.
There’s an option to buy a $125 “Wellness Box” to enhance the viewing experience. The boxes are valued at over $175, and include products from The Granola Bar, Performance Physical Therapy and West.
Last week’s Photo Challenge was a good one. David Loffredo’s clever image showed the tiled plaza by the Saugatuck River, viewed directly from above on the patio between The Whelk and Saugatuck Sweets. (Click here to see.)
Unfortunately, sussing out the scene was lower on most readers’ lists than clearing debris, tossing food from the fridge, and otherwise dealing with the zillion chores and inconveniences that come with a major power outage.
There were just 3 responses. Fred Cantor had the lone correct answer. And he lives in Southern California.
Now that the juice is back on: Try this week’s Photo Challenge. We’re easing back into things with an easy one. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.
Betsy Kravitz celebrates Memorial Day, on South Compo Road…
… and with hands over hearts, a socially distanced crowd heart Gettysburg College junior Sophia Bookas play “Taps” this afternoon, at Saugatuck Sweets…
… while not far away, Lt. Ryan B. Weddle of the US Naval Reserves and his sons John and Ben — Cub Scouts, and Greens Farms Elementary School students — decorated veterans’ graves at Christ & Holy Trinity Cemetery.
They honored Joseph J. Clinton, who died in France during World War I, and for whom the local VFW Post 399 is named for, as well as John H. Darrow, 28th Connecticut Volunteers, who was killed in Baton Rouge during the Civil War.
Lt. Weddle and his sons also placed US and Navy flags at Westport’s World War I and World War II memorials, at Veterans Green.
Posted onMay 25, 2020|Comments Off on COVID Roundup: “Parade”; “Taps”; Restaurant Info; Kelli O’Hara; More
If you’re like many Westporters, missing today’s Memorial Day parade was tough.
If you lived near downtown though, you were in luck.
Neighborhood kids were invited to decorate bikes. They rode — appropriately apart — from Wright Street to Orchard Lane, Ludlow Road and Kings Highway North. Over 40 youngsters (and a few parents) took part.
Spectators stood on their porches, and clapped. There was a street party afterward — still socially distant, but able to celebrate in the new old-fashioned way.
At 3 p.m. today (Memorial Day), a bugler will play “Taps” on the plaza between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk. It’s part of “Taps Across America,” a project initiated by CBS “On the Road” correspondent Steve Hartman.
Masked, appropriately distanced residents are invited to attend.
“Taps,” at Westport’s 2015 Memorial Day ceremony.
Todd Pines has been thinking about our dining scene. He writes:
“While restaurants are starting to open with limited capacity, most business is likely to be takeout for the foreseeable future. Ordering through behemoth delivery services (Uber Eats, Grubhub, etc.) takes an enormous split of the tab, further challenging restaurants’ ability to survive.
“Residents should understand the small impact they can make by calling a restaurant directly, seeing if they offer their own delivery staff. You can also consider getting in your own car, and picking up your meal directly. It means a lot to the restaurant owner.”
For a deep dive into delivery services, click here.
PS: Todd adds, “For the entrepreneurial-minded, a lot of college students and high school seniors are looking for work. They could help those restaurants with delivery, pocketing the tips while not forcing restaurants to discount their tab.”
Layla’s Falafel offers great food — and they have their own delivery service. Ordering direct helps them stay in business.
Speaking of which: Winfield Street Coffee is back open, just over the downtown bridge. Hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and catering. There’s takeout, curbside pickup, delivery, and a few new seats on the sidewalk.
Also new: a “Reserved Parking/To Go Orders Only” sign, right in front. In these times when local businesses need all the help they can get — they’re getting it!
One of the underrated treasures of any Memorial Day is the PBS concert, broadcast from Washington, DC. It’s America at its best.
Last night’s show was different. The pandemic canceled the live show, so musical guests appeared on tape, from all over the country.
And right there among them was Westport’s own Kelli O’Hara. The Tony Award winner delivered a haunting rendition of “Fire and Rain.” Its refrain “but I always thought that I’d see you again” — juxtaposed against scenes of loved ones visiting graves of the men and women they’d lost — provided some of the most powerful moments of the entire evening.
And finally … as the coronavirus kept us apart today, let’s look back on a great Westport tradition. Here’s the Staples High School band in 2013, with their rousing Memorial Day “Armed Forces Salute.”
Comments Off on COVID Roundup: “Parade”; “Taps”; Restaurant Info; Kelli O’Hara; More
Jeff Seaver runs Seaver Interactive, a web design and digital marketing firm in Saugatuck. He’s been friends, and worked with, Pete Romano — a Saugatuck native — for 7 years. Jeff writes:
Walking around town with Pete Romano is like going for a stroll with the mayor: folks say hello everywhere he goes. Pete’s well known not just for his expertise in running Landtech — an engineering and environmental firm on Riverside Avenue — but also for his community service. His reputation spans generations.
His father, PJ Romano, grew up in Westport. He was a PAL volunteer for almost 50 years. The athletic field behind Saugatuck Elementary School is named for him, honoring his role in developing PAL’s football, baseball, wrestling and other programs, including the ice rink at Longshore.
Pete’s mom, Joan Romano, still volunteers with PAL. That spirit continues, as Pete maintains a strong family tradition of service.
Pete played baseball and football at Staples High School. His mom recalls that Pete “would knock a player down, but then afterward, stop to help pick them up.”
Working with his longtime friend and partner at Saugatuck Sweets, Al DiGuido, Pete is one of the forces behind DiGuido’s legendary Al’s Angels charity. Last year, Pete helped organize and oversee over 2,500 holiday meals to help those in need.
Pete Romano (left) with his mother Joan, and Al DiGuido, at Saugatuck Sweets.
Al DiGuido said, “I have never thought of Pete Romano as a hero. I doubt he regards himself that way. He just has a tireless passion for doing the heavy lifting for those in need, which inspires me and so many others.
“Pete doesn’t seem to need or want the spotlight. He’s not looking for trophies, awards or accolades. I think he does this because its in his DNA. His family has always been committed to doing all they could to help the community. Some are content to sit on the sidelines, but Pete gets his hands dirty doing the hard work that is truly needed.”
But Pete has a superhero alter ego. Every Christmas he plays Santa Claus. He arrives on a Westport Police patrol boat at Saugatuck Center, lighting the tree and entertaining kids.
Here comes Pete — er, Santa Claus!
His good works could fill a book. They include being a major contributor to the renovation of the Westport Weston Family YMCA, and helping sponsor events for the American Cancer Society, Project Return, ElderHouse, Operation Hope, Westport Rotary, Little League Softball, plus many other local causes.
Bill Mitchell has been a pal of Pete’s for many years. They support many of the same causes, including Operation Hope and Project Runway. Bill notes, “Pete and his family have been a gift to our community.”
Steve Smith, Westport’s building inspector, said, “Pete Romano is a successful community leader who is generous and always willing to help out a community cause. He has given his time to our town unselfishly — and always with his characteristically great sense of humor.”
Phil Cerrone, an architect who has partnered in a number of efforts with Pete’s firm, said, “Pete is one of the most caring and considerate people I know. He can always be relied on to help a friend in need. Just as important, he can also be counted on to supply top quality food and drink!”
One of Pete’s most treasured causes is Wakeman Town Farm. Pete often joins with his friend, architect Peter Wormser, scooping ice cream at the Farm’s special events.
Pete Romano and Peter Wormser, at Wakeman Town Farm.
Pete always has time for Westport schools. He and his firm helped create the night lights at the Staples High School football field, the fields at Bedford Middle School, and the Loeffler Field terrace (granite seating on the soccer field hill).
He is a generous supporter of Staples sports teams, Staples Players and middle school theater productions, the Staples robotics team, and more.
Pete’s firm collaborates with Gault Energy on many projects. Gault family members are effusive in their praise. Ginger Gault and Jimmy Donaher say, “He has keen insight to go along with a big heart, and on top of everything else, he’s hysterically funny. Pete is the complete package.”
He is especially proud of his 2 daughters. They went through the Westport School System, and are now smart, vibrant, strong women. Pete said, “They got the best public education one could dream of. How do you ever repay that debt?”
Pete celebrated a birthday recently. As with many hard-working and generous folks, one of the hardest challenge is figuring out what to give them.
What do you give a man like Pete Romano who does not have everything, but gives everything?
The only answer is: love and genuine appreciation for all that he does.
A press release from the Selectman’s Office notes only that the town’s “annual tree lighting” ceremony will take place at Town Hall this Thursday (November 29, 5 p.m.).
Of course, the tree to be lit is a fir tree. You connect the dots.
It’s a fun, festive, kid-friendly event. The Staples High School Orphenians sing “seasonal” songs.
First Selectman Jim Marpe — and a bunch of little kids — lit the tree in front of Town Hall last year. Then came photo opps.
Speaking of Town Hall trees, this year the “Heritage Tree” — a longtime fixture in the building’s lobby — moves across Myrtle Avenue to the Westport Historical Society.
Each year, local artists add ornaments (yes, it’s that kind of tree). Past contributors include Mel Casson, Randy Enos, Stevan Dohanos, Hardie Gramatky, Howard Munce, Jim Sharpe, Leonard Everett Fisher, Jean Woodham and Hilda Kraus.
This year’s ornament comes courtesy of Victoria Kann. The author/illustrator of the popular “Pinkalicious” book series is a longtime Westporter.
Kids can help decorate the Heritage Tree this Saturday (December 1, 1 p.m.). Kann will read from one of her holiday-themed books (and sign them). Snacks will be served too.
The Heritage Tree — shown last year in the Town Hall lobby — moves across the street to the Westport Historical Society.
The next day — Sunday, December 2 — another tree lighting takes place. It’s at the Saugatuck Center plaza, between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk. Everyone is asked to bring unwrapped toys for children 10 and under. Al’s Angels wrap and deliver them to needy kids.
It’s set for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Santa arrives at 5:15 — so I’m on safe ground calling this an actual “Christmas” tree lighting.
And the 28th annual Tree of Light ceremony will be held Thursday, December 6, at 6:30 p.m. It honors the memories of family members and friends who have died.
The site is Saugatuck Congregational Church. So, yeah: That’s a Christmas tree lighting too.
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