Tag Archives: Saugatuck Sweets

“Wall Of Wishes” For 2020 Grads

The Staples High School Class of 2020 will not have a traditional graduation. Instead, on June 11 they’ll take part in a car parade.

But one Westporter wants to make sure they know the entire town is thinking of them. She’s created a “Wall of Wishes.”

She delivered blank posters to ASF Sports & Outdoors and Saugatuck Sweets. Everyone is invited to write a message, quote, or words of encouragement to the graduates (bring your own sharpie!).

“Let them know they are not alone, and there is so much more out there,” Kelly — whose son AJ is one of those seniors — says.

“It will get better. They will to be stronger from this — even though it doesn’t seem so right now.”

Kelly will post the messages along the route for the grads to see. She and I will find a way to share them on “06880” too.

If you have any questions — or prefer to email your wishes — send them to wallofwishes2020@gmail.com. The deadline is next Friday (June 5).

Pics Of The Day #1134

Betsy Kravitz celebrates Memorial Day, on South Compo Road…

(Photo/Jimmy Izzo)

(Photo/Alexis Donnerstag)

… and with hands over hearts, a socially distanced crowd heart Gettysburg College junior Sophia Bookas play “Taps” this afternoon, at Saugatuck Sweets…

(Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

… 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.

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.

(Photo/Anne Hardy)


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.”

Pics Of The Day #1073

COVID-19 can’t keep Westport down!

Open wide! (Photo/Arlene Yolles)

Bill Kutik (right), and neighbors Mary Jo and Bill Fornshell enjoy socially distanced cocktails near Sylvan Road North. (Photo/Nancy Breakstone)

A message from Saugatuck Sweets — courtesy of 10-year-old Johnny DiGuido. (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

Pic Of The Day #970

“Sweet” moon over the Saugatuck (Photo/Judy Auber Jahnel)

Unsung Hero #116

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 Romano

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.

 

Name That Tree!

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.

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.

Sweet Sounds Of Summer

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.

This is not the Dave Kardas Band. But it’s what the “Sweet Sounds of Summer” series looks like, at the plaza by the river.

Can You Take The Scoops Challenge?

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 Armitage and Walker Green

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.

Action from last year’s Fairfield contest.

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.

To register, click here for the high school challenge; click here for the middle and elementary school challenge. Then share your team page via social media with everyone you know.

The Scoops Challenge is a great idea, for an excellent cause.

PS: Don’t forget to practice!

(From left) Organizers Alex Laudico, Walker Green, Rohan Goswami (MC of the event) and Pink Aid head Bianca Bicalho prepare for the Scoops Challenge, at Saugatuck Sweets.

Saugatuck Redevelopment Schedule Set

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).

A map in the Executive Summary shows possible developments in Saugatuck.

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.

The previous redevelopment of Saugatuck brought a retail/residential complex that includes The Whelk, Saugatuck Sweets, Downunder and 20 apartments. It is separate from the new redevelopment plan.