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Tag Archives: Saugatuck Sweets
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.
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.
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 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.
I guess we shouldn’t call it a “Christmas” tree.
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.
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 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.
There are many signs of summer in Westport: The Yankee Doodle Fair. The 2nd of July fireworks.
And music on the Saugatuck Sweets plaza.
The series kicks off this Friday (June 15). The Dave Kardas Band plays from 6:30 until 9 p.m.
They play classic rock, blues, country, R&B, soul and jazz. They cover music from James Brown, Prince, BTO, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and Michael Jackson to Eric Clapton, the Cars, Sister Sledge, Whitesnake, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Tom Petty, David Bowie, Sade, Aretha Franklin, Jill Scott, Bruno Mars and Pharrell,
If you enjoy great ice cream and fantastic music by the river, you know how great this is.
If you don’t, I’m sorry.
There’s no hope for you.
The other day I posted a story about Mike Greenberg’s new book, “MVP: Most Valuable Puppy.” The children’s tale honors the memory of Heidi Armitage, a beloved Westporter. She died in 2009, after battling breast cancer.
Heidi’s son Walker Green was a young boy when his mom died. Now — a couple of weeks before graduating from Staples High School — he’s working with Staples Pink Aid and the Cancer Couch Foundation on a fundraiser for metastatic breast cancer.
And — in keeping with his mother’s personality — the “fun” part of “fundraiser” is important.
The Scoops Challenge is really an old-fashioned ice cream-eating contest. Teams of 4 eat as many scoops as they can, in 3 minutes. Winners earn trophies.
Teams can also win by raising the most money. Each team must raise at least $100 to enter.
Westport’s first-ever Scoops Challenge is set for the Staples courtyard on Thursday, June 14 at 5 p.m., for high school students. Middle and elementary school students have their own challenge on Friday, June 15 (4 p.m., at Saugatuck Sweets).
Saugatuck Sweets is donating all the ice cream. Owner Al DiGuido started the event in Fairfield, and has raised $20,000. Staples is the first high school to do it.
The Scoops Challenge is a great idea, for an excellent cause.
PS: Don’t forget to practice!
In his twin roles as RTM member and executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, Matthew Mandell keeps his eye on the town.
He wants everyone to know what’s happening with redevelopment plans for Saugatuck — the RTM district he represents. Yesterday, he told constituents that the study committee will meet — without the consultants — this Tuesday (December 19, 8 a.m., Town Hall Room 201).
The public may attend, and will be given the option to speak. However, Mandell says, “It might take a bit to get to you. I think the committee will have a lot to talk about.”
He included a link to the Executive Summary (click here to read).
Three days later — on December 22 — consultants will submit the draft report/plan to the town.
Mandell says, “Personally, I think this might be too quick, figuring there might be a whole slew of changes and requests from the committee. But hey, it’s a goal from the chairs.”
On January 11 (Town Hall, 8 a.m.), the committee and consultants will discuss the plan.
A public evening session is set for January 22 (7 p.m.).
The final draft will be submitted to the town on February 2. Three days later — 9 days before the deadline — it will be submitted to the state.
Mandell says there is one thing he has not seen: when the committee itself votes on the plan.
Last year, “06880” posted an urgent plea for help. The Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport was running a toy drive for their elementary school students. But they were falling far short.
Their kids were in desperate situations: the highest poverty brackets, shelters, you name it. 100% are fed breakfast and lunch at school. Their families have no money for basic necessities — let alone holiday gifts.
Westporters came through — big time.
This year, alert — and generous — “06880” reader Alexis Donnerstag remembered the drive. She asked how she could contribute again. I hadn’t heard anything from the school. But I sent her a link to their website.
Within a couple of hours, Benji Labrador called. He’s the school security officer. He said the woman who handled the drive last year is gone. He’s in charge, but did not know about the “06880” connection.
Now he does. And so do you.
Anyone can order gifts online — at Amazon, for example — and have them shipped to Benji at the school: 606 Howard Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06606. Click here for a direct link to Amazon’s Cesar Batalla page. You can drop gifts off at Vincent Palumbo Salon (616 Post Road East) — or directly at the school too.
For more information, email email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, closer to home, there’s a tree lighting — plus hot chocolate, s’mores and sliders — at the Riverside Avenue plaza (between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk) this Sunday (December 3, 4:30 to 7 p.m.) Santa arrives at 5:15 p.m.
The Gault family invites everyone to come. But they hope you’ll bring an unwrapped toy for a child age 10 or under. All gifts will be donated to Al’s Angels.
Who are they? Well — in addition to providing holiday joy for countless kids in the area — they’re the volunteers who light the William Cribari Bridge, just a couple of yards away from the plaza.
“06880” readers really know their onions.
Well, their coal, anyway.
Last week’s photo challenge showed an old coal bin, on a couple of yards of rail track.
It’s right on the Saugatuck River, behind Saugatuck Sweets. Gault Energy put it there when Saugatuck Center was being redeveloped (in part by their company) several years ago. It pays homage to the long-ago days when boats brought coal up the river to Gault’s headquarters. The coal made part of its journey by rail, before being delivered to Westport customers. Click here for the photo.
Seth Schachter answered correctly, within 4 minutes of the posting. He was followed quickly by William Adler, Daniel Cummings, Virginia Tienken, Robert Mitchell, Peter Flatow, Jamie Roth, Linda Amos, Seth Goltzer, Josh Moritz and Brandon Malin. Congratulations to all (and thanks to Saugatuck Sweets, whose treats are the reason so many folks are down by the river in the first place).
This week’s photo challenge comes courtesy of John Videler. Coincidentally, he grew up right across the river from where the Gault coal bin now sits.
But his image shows a different place entirely. If you know where it is, click “Comments” below.
Today was hot and humid. But it’s never too hot for Saugatuck’s great Italian food, from places like Tutti’s and Tarantino’s.
Or Mexican (Viva’s, Cuatro Hermanos), Thai (Rainbow) or Japanese (Kawa Ni).
Every restaurant — including Dunkin’ Donuts — was represented at this afternoon’s Slice of Saugatuck.
So were stores, ranging from liquor (99 Bottles) to sports (Attic) to my favorite — not just in Saugatuck but all of Westport (Indulge by Mersene).
The 5th annual event was sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. Funds benefit the Gillespie Center food pantry. Slice is nice!