Tag Archives: Sherwood Island State Park

Roundup: Techno Claus, Tree Lights, Trailer Park …

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Santa Claus comes once a year.

Techno Claus too.

The “CBS Sunday Morning” staple — aka David Pogue (don’t tell the kids!) made an earlier-than-usual appearance in 2021. He told “06880” he wanted to make sure there were no supply chain issues with any suggestions.

As usual, much of the segment was filmed in David’s Westport home. Both Santa and Techno Claus know it well.

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David Meth likes the Wakeman Town Farm Christmas tree lights. A lot.

He does not like the lights on the Town Hall tree.

(Photos/David Meth)

David says: “The lack of warmth lighting up the Christmas tree at Town Hall is its usual, typical, surgical, antiseptic white—an embarrassment to the town. Yet it goes on year after year without change or care by the administration, who seem to lack an understanding of how color positively affects people.

“The town is very clear as it  expresses an attitude that announces: ‘Get it done to say it’s been done.’ The warmth exuded from the tree at Wakeman Farm is what we should expect—welcoming, full of life and color for all.”

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Rod Serling has not lived in Westport for 60 years. And he’s been dead for 45.

But visitors to Sherwood Island have recently experienced a “Twilight Zone” moment. There — in the middle of our beautiful, wooded beachside state park — sits a decrepit trailer park.

(Photo/Werner Lipeolt)

Has it sat there — unnoticed — for years? But wait — why is there a trailer park in a state park?

Because it’s a movie set, silly!

As “06880” has reported several times, Netflix is filming “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” there. The Stephen King thriller stars Donald Sutherland and Jaeden Martell, and will be released next year. 

When, presumably, the Black Bear Trailer Park is just a long-ago memory.

PS: How about some kind of Oscar for that set designer?!

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Youn Su Chao has resigned from the Board of Education.

Her replacement must be a registered Democrat. Letters of application should be submitted by email (lgoldstein@westportps.org) or to Westport Board of Education, Town Hall Room 307, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880. The deadline is next Monday (December 13).

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The Greens Farms Garden Club does wonderful work. And not just in the 06838 zip code.

The other day, members beautified the Gillespie Center men’s shelter downtown. They weeded, trimmed, raked, pulled vines and planted daffodils all around the property across behind Barnes & Noble (and around the corner from Tiffany).

The area was so overgrown, it was hard to find the stone wall or bench in the area.  Now it looks great.

Early next spring, Garden Club members will trim back larger shrubs, and add more plantings.

Greens Farms Garden Club members take a brief break at the Gillespie Center.

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Tonight (Tuesday) at 7 p.m., the state Department of Transportation hosts a virtual public information meeting about the replacement of the Greens Farms Road Sasco Brook bridge.

The presentation will be recorded. Click here for instructions on how to access the meeting, and how to provide comments or ask questions.

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Joel Robert Hallas (W1ZR) died peacefully at home in Westport on Thanksgiving morning, with his family by his side, after a hard 3 -year fight against pancreatic cancer. He was 79.

Joel was an electrical engineer, sailboat owner and expert in telecommunications and amateur radio. He wrote 7 books about ham radio and antennas.

A 1960 graduate of Greenwich High School, he served in the Army from 1962-65. Stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, he earned the rank of E5 in the Signal Corps. He then graduated with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the University of Connecticut.

While working at Raytheon, Joel earned a master of science in electrical engineering from Northeastern University. He also worked for Norden Systems, GTE, IBM, Seagram’s and AT&T, on radar and telecommunications projects. He taught telecommunications at the Rochester Institute of Technology from 1993-1997.

In Westport he was known for sailing his sloop Windfall on Long Island Sound, with family, friends, co-workers, Y’s Men and his golden retrievers. He twice served as commodore of the Minuteman Yacht Club. He was appointed to the Parks & Recreation Commission, where he headed the committee that was instrumental in improving Compo Beach’s Ned Dimes Marina, including the concrete flotation docks that increased capacity and convenience.

At the end of his career Joel joined the staff of the National Association of Amateur Radio as technical editor of their journal QST. He wrote a popular monthly column and did a podcast called “The Doctor is In,” answering technical questions from hams.

Among the books Joel wrote are Basic Radio; Basic Antennas; The ARRL Guide to Antenna Tuners; Hamspeak; The Care and Feeding of Transmission Lines; Understanding Your Antenna Analyzer, and The Radio Amateur’s Workshop.

Joel is survived by his wife of 58 years, Nancy Gatrall Hallas; daughter Katie J. (Mike) Phillis, and son Dr. Stephen J. (Dr. Sabrina Noel) Hallas.

Burial will be private. A memorial service will be held this spring.

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Our “Westport … Naturally” feature includes many wild animals.

Today we feature man’s best friend. James Melino and Nellie work together in James’ home office. What a team!

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And finally … today in 1842, the New York Philharmonic presented its first concert ever. Happy 179th birthday!

Roundup: Nile Rodgers, David Hidalgo, Bob Dole …

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Like many musicians, Nile Rodgers has an impressive collection of guitars.

Like very few, he is selling them at auction.

Like even fewer, he’s auctioning them not for personal gain, but for charity.

This month, Christie’s is offering more than 160 pieces from his personal collection. Besides guitars, there are amps, synthesizers and mixing boards — plus clothing and classic cars.

Many are housed right here in Westport. The Grammy-winning composer, producer, arranger, guitarist and Chic co-founder has lived here for years.

Rodgers will donate app proceeds to the We Are Family Foundation. He and life partner Nancy Hunt set up the organization after 9/11. It “promotes cultural diversity while nurturing and mentoring the vision, talents and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world.”

And it’s named, of course, for the smash song he wrote for Sister Sledge.

Click here for the full story. Click here for the Nile Rodgers collection, from the Christie’s catalogue. (Hat tip: Adam Stolpen)

Nile Rodgers, at his Westport home. (Photo courtesy of Sky Arts)

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College a cappella came to Westport last night.

Dartmouth College’s Brovertones brought their bowties and harmonies to the Christ & Holy Trinity courtyard last night. There was a bonfire, s’mores, hot cider — and a heartfelt speech by Brovertone Sam Laskin. The Staples High School grad spoke about how great it was to grow up in a town that fosters the arts.

Dinner was next for the group, hosted by Randy Herbertson in his Church Lane studio. Most of the food was donated by Rye Ridge Deli.

Today — after they all slept at the Laskins’ — it was off on the next stop of their holiday tour.

The Brovertones, at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. (Photo/David Goldstein)

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Like many downtown stores, Savvy + Grace has a gorgeous Christmas tree.

But this one is more than decorative.

Owner Annette Norton is working with the Ralphola Taylor Charity, a YMCA community center that serves low-income Bridgeport children. They earn points for good behavior during after-school activities — then redeem those points at the center’s Holiday Store by buying presents for their families.

In return for purchasing a gift for the Ralphola Taylor Charity, Annette will personalize a white dove ornament with the donor’s name, and hang it on the tree.

Gifts can be bought 3 ways:

  • At Savvy + Grace (next to the former Tavern on Main restaurant)
  • Online (at checkout, just choose free delivery to the charity)
  • Purchase something from any other local store, then drop it off at Savvy + Grace. What a great way to support all Westport merchants, and kids in Bridgeport.

Donations are accepted now through December 12. Let’s fill that tree — and the Ralphola Taylor Charity Holiday Shop shelves!

Annette Norton at Savvy + Grace last year. This season, the tree is inside her store.

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In 2020, I reported on David Hidalgo’s battle against leukemia.

The carpenter/handyman/home improvement contractor extraordinaire is beloved by Westporters. They adore his workmanship, care, willingness to tackle any project; his problem-solving, humility, politeness, and ear-to-ear smile.

He had no disability insurance. But many friends — and strangers — stepped up to help. On his 32nd birthday, David was pronounced cancer-free.

Devastatingly, it’s now returned.

He starts treatment tomorrow, and hopes for a bone marrow transplant.

Without health insurance, he, his wife and 2 young children need lots of help.

He has 2 young children and a lovely wife. They have no health insurance and will need a lot of help.

A GoFundMe drive can defray medical costs. A meal train can help too.

David’s many friends and very pleased clients hope that Westport can give generously to this special man, and his family. (Hat tip: Jennifer Zorek-Pressman)

David Hidalgo and family.

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Bob Dole — the World War II hero, Senate majority leader, presidential and vice presidential candidate, veterans’ advocate, and skillful politician in all the positive senses of the word — died yesterday, at 98.

His long and varied life no doubt brought him at least a few times to Westport, for fundraising and other events. I met him once, at the Apple Festival at Staples High School.

That’s been gone for a while, but it was an old-fashioned, community celebration every October. It must have been a presidential election year, though I can’t remember which one.

I was surprised that a man of his stature would be shaking hands at a small event like that. But I was impressed that he met voters with grace, a smile, and a couple of jokes.

I shook his hand — his left one, because his right hand was severely injured during his service with the 10th Mountain Division. I was not going to vote for whoever he was stumping for, but neither would I pass up the honor of meeting him.

It remains a fond memory. If only we had iPhones back then.

Senator Bob Dole

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Former Westporter — and longtime Planning & Zoning Commission member –Ed Van Gelder died last week, at Meadow Ridge in Redding. He was 98 years old.

In 2009, he and his wife Inge celebrated their 60th anniversary. Their son Jeff wrote a beautiful piece for “06880,” about what Westport meant to them both. Click here to read.

An obituary has not yet been published. Condolences may be sent to Jeff Van Gelder, c/o1326 Meadow Ridge, Redding, CT 06896. (Hat tip: Rose Jordan)

Inge and Ed Van Gelder

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“06880” readers are not the only people who love Werner Liepolt’s artwork.

The regular contributor to our Saturday online art gallery has just had his en plein air painting of Sherwood Island State Park juried into the Mart Twain Library‘s 49th annual art show. Submissions came from across the country.

The fundraiser for the Redding institution — which was founded by the legendary writer — runs through December 12.

The Mark Twain Library is a fitting spot for Liepolt’s work. He spent over 30 years in Westport as an English teacher.

Werner Liepolt’s Sherwood Island artwork was featured in the “06880” art gallery last March. It’s now in the juried Mark Twain Library show.

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Speaking of Sherwood Island: Mill Pond residents were surprised to wake up this morning to lights and action.

It was presumably Netflix, filming “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone.” The Stephen King thriller stars Donald Sutherland and Jaeden Martell, and will be released next year.

A temporary “trailer park” has been erected at the state park. To answer questions from readers: No, it’s not permanent.

Sherwood Island State Park, as seen from the Mill Pond early this morning. (Photo/James White)

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The deer keeping coming. Jill Grayson took today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo at her Berkeley Road home, off Easton Road.

(Photo/Jill Grayson)

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And finally … in honor of Nile Rodgers’ charitable gifts (above) — well, you knew this was coming:

Pic Of The Day #1667

Sherwood Island tree (Photo/Rowene Weems Photography)

Sherwood Island Dune Restoration Takes Root

Twenty years ago, officials at Sherwood Island bulldozed all their dunes away. They wanted state park visitors to have an unimpeded Long Island Sound view, from the parking lot and concession stand.

It was not a great idea. It affected the coastal wildlife habitat, and lessened the shoreline’s resiliency to rising seas.

Five years ago, Friends of Sherwood Island board member Michele Sorensen wondered how her group could improve the dune habitat. Ecologist Juliana Barrett met Michele and then-park supervisor Jim Beschle on April 5, 2017. She said that to build out the dunes, they had to plant dominant grass before April 15, or after November 15.

That afternoon Michele ordered 800 American Beach Grass culms. She corraled up a small team of volunteers — including 2 grandchildren — to spend 4 days during Easter, planting.

Michele Sorensen, at the start of the dune restoration project.

The project has continued ever since.

Every year during Fairfield County Giving Day, the “Friends Garden Team” fundraises to buy plants, tools, signs and supplies. Michele provides a matching grant of up to $1,000. Last February’s effort was the best yet.

Westporter Bill Yaffa — whose company sells erosion control cloth — suggested using it at the park. An experimental sand patch had a 97% success rate (far better than the usual 60-85%). This spring the group will expand the areas they plant in sixfold, using jute cloth.

The dune restoration project, last August.

Since 2019 — when Michele became a University of Connecticut advanced master gardener — she has been assisted by nearly a dozen other master gardener graduates and interns from around Fairfield County, and local helpers like Westporter Lavinia Larsson and Barbara Dahm, now in her 80s.

Barbara’s connection with Sherwood Island dates back to when her parents brought breakfast, lunch and dinner, spending all day at the beach.

Current Staples High School sophomore Jackson Cregan and his father Johannes were key members of last November and April’s plantings too.

Jackson Cregan, hard at work.

Birds, butterflies and many other creatures have taken advantage of the restored dune habitat.

And no one has complained that they can’t see the shore from the parking lot or concession stand.

Friends Garden Team members Heather Williams (Westport Shellfish Commission) and Westporter Barrie Holmes, with hundreds of plantings.

Roundup: Halloween, Holiday Trees, Movies …

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Once upon a time, trick-or-treaters (yes, there was a “trick” part besides the “treat”) soaped up windows.

Now they paint them.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s annual Halloween Window Painting Contest takes place this Saturday (October 23, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

A record number of kids (105) will paint 65 different windows, all around town. They’re vying to win in 3 categories (Scariest, Most Original, and Best Halloween Themed) in 3 divisions (Elementary, Middle and High School). Victors earn rewards, and $25 gift cards from Cold Fusion.

Windows of retailers, offices, the Library and Senior Center answered the call, ensuring that every child who signed up has a window to paint. They’ll work on their own or in teams.

Windows will remain painted through Halloween, so residents can enjoy the artistry. For more information,  click here.

Halloween painting, 2013.

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Also downtown: The Westport Downtown Association hopes Westporters can help them make this holiday season special. They’re installing a dozen colorful tees throughout the area. Each will be decorated by professional designers, and will be themed to a different local non-profit. The aim is to support their missions during the season of giving.

The WDA seeks donations to help cover the cost of the trees, lights and decorations. Click here for the GoFundMe page, to help reach the $10,000 goal.

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Usually, the only tents at Sherwood Island are on the sand.

Yesterday, visitors saw a ginormous tent, in the parking area. There were a couple dozen tractor-trailer dressing and production rooms too.

It was part of a movie being filmed there. Donald Sutherland and Jaeden Martell star in “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” an adaptation of a Stephen King short story.

Despite all the activity, no one spotted the main actors.

(Photo and hat tip: Werner Liepolt)

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Speaking of cinema: The Remarkable Theater ends its second remarkable drive-in season with films that celebrate Halloween and Election Day (plus one classic music movie).

  • “Pink Floyd: The Wall” (Saturday, October 23, 6:30 p.m.)
  • “Hotel Transylvania” (Sunday, October 24, 6 p.m.)
  • “Corpse Bride” (Monday, October 25, 6:30 p.m.)
  • “The Candidate” (Tuesday, October 26, 6:30 p.m.)
  • “Beetlejuice” (Friday, October 29, 6:30 p.m.)
  • “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (Saturday, October 30, 8:30 p.m.).

Click here for tickets and more information.

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Speaking still of movies: After a great opening night, the Westport Library’s Short Cuts Film Festival continues Thursday, November 4 (7 p.m.), with 5 short films curated from the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. The lineup includes narrative and animated films.

Six Nights follows a restaurant dishwasher facing a dilemma; in The Angler, things are not always what they seem; a baby owl struggles in the animated Try to Fly; challenges face a Syrian immigrant in No Longer Suitable for Use; and 3 young children seek a boyfriend for their bus driver in Cupids.

Cupid director and humanitarian aid worker Zoey Martinson will be an in-person guest in the Forum for a discussion after the screenings. At-home viewers can access the talkback via Zoom, and ask questions as well.

An all-documentary program follows on November 18.

All films will be screened on the Forum’s large, hi-def screen.

To buy tickets for November 4, click here. For November 18, click here.

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Coming soon at Wakeman Town Farm:

“Bicycling with Butterflies” (November 1, 6:30 p.m., Zoom). On behalf of Westport’s Pollinator Pathway, and in honor of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos — the day the monarchs traditionally return to their winter sanctuary in Michoacán — Sara Dykman talks about her solo experience biking the 10,000-mile Monarch Butterfly Migration  . Click here for more information.

“Don’t Blow It! A Panel Discussion About Leaf Blowers” (November 8, 7 p.m., Wakeman Town Farm). Clear the air about the impact of gas leaf blowers on our bodies and the environment – including the gas leaf blower ordinance being presented to the RTM Click here for more information.

“Holiday Wreath Making” (November 15, 6:30 p.m., Wakeman Town Farm). Chyrse Terill and Ellen Goldman will show how to create wonderful Thanksgiving wreaths, with materials collected from WTF. At the end of the class, take home your work. Click here for more information.

Monarch butterfly in Westport. (Photo/Tammy Barry)

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Compo Cove was frothy yesterday.

“Wash day?” wonders Les Dinkin.

(Photo/Les Dinkin)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo combines a special local custom (dogs at the beach) with an iconic site (Compo cannons). The result:

(Photo/Cathy Malkin)

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And finally … on this date in 1934, FBI agents in East Liverpool, Ohio shot and killed Pretty Boy Floyd.

Woody Guthrie noted the generous side of the notorious Depression-era bank robber:

Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won’t never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

Pic Of The Day #1646

Sherwood Island morning (Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)

Pics Of The Day #1607

Today’s reading of names at New York’s 9/11 Memorial honored victims from around the world. It had a bit of a Westport feel, though. Andrew Colabella was one of the readers — and a featured singer was fellow Westporter Kelli O’Hara. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Motorcycles mass before the start of the CT Ride United this morning, at Sherwood Island State Park. The event honored victims and first responder of 9/11. (Photo/Penny Pearlman)

David Squires reports: “This morning at I-95 Exit 18, I stood with many strangers with a lump in my throat, as thousands of motorcycles roared past on their trek of remembrance. I was heart warmed and saddened at this milestone. Flags, peace signs, waves and rumbling vibrations passed before me and through me. It seemed like “a good thing.” (Photo/David Squires)

An American flag framed the motorcyclists — a reminder of the attack on that fateful day. (Photo/JC Martin)

Roundup: Staples Class Of ’76, Coney Island, Sherwood Island …

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This is the 45th reunion weekend for the Staples High School Class of 1976. (Sorry, guys — time marches on.)

Like most classes, they’re enjoying each other’s company at the Duck, the beach, and a more formal affair.

But they’re also doing something every reunion class should emulate. This morning, members volunteered in a service project at CLASP Homes.

Tracy Flood — a proud member of Staples’ bicentennial class — is president of the local non-profit, which serves people with autism and intellectual disabilities, and their families.

(Coincidentally, CLASP was founded in 1976.)

Thanks, and congrats, to Staples’ Class of ’76. They came from all over the country to celebrate. To help their classmate. And to give back to the town where they grew up.

And, as is clear, grew into wonderful human beings.

Members of Staples High School’s Class of 1976, helping CLASP. Tracy Flood is 2nd from left.

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Connecticut’s COVID numbers don’t look great.

There’s been a 225% increase in cases over the past 2 weeks. Hospitalizations are up 93%, and deaths 133%.

The 2 most troubling hot spot  Windham County, in the northeast (up 682%) and New Haven County (up 244%). Fairfield County is up 253%, the 2nd highest percentage of the state’s 8 counties.

It’s not back. It never left.

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The other day, David Pogue interviewed Robin Frank for his “CBS Sunday Morning” feature.

David’s subject was Coney Island. Robin wrote a great book about it (“Visions of an American Dreamland: 1861-2008”), and curated a traveling exhibition about it.

The interview took place at the Coney Island Museum, and on the famous boardwalk. (Click below to see.)

Only afterward did David and Robin discover that both live in Westport.

“06880”: Where Westport meets the World. Including — especially — Coney Island.

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Sherwood Island — the 235-acre gem between Compo and Burying Hill Beaches — is the oldest state park in Connecticut. It celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014 (as the many Westporters who discovered it during the pandemic now know).

But who knew that this is the 100th anniversary of lifeguards at the famed beach?

Well, Karen Scott did. The KMS Partners @ Compass realtor snapped this photo the other day. Congratulations,

PS: Entrance is free to all cars with Connecticut license plates.

(Photo/Karen Scott)

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Speaking of Sherwood Island: The park is filled with natural wonders. So — naturally — it’s a great subject for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature:

(Elena Nasereddin)

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Thanks to the Westport Police Department — and the generosity of many Westporters — Homes with Hope’ food pantry is now 303 bags of groceries more full.

Yesterday’s drive at Stop & Shop was a roaring success, says Helen McAlinden, CEO of the Westport non-profit that runs the Gillespie Center, and associated supportive housing and meal programs.

Missed your chance? Click here to see how to help.

Westport Police and Homes with Hope volunteers deliver food from today’s drive to the Gillespie Center, across from police headquarters.

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No, Linda Ronstadt was not at the Levitt Pavilion last night.

But Rita Harvey’s tribute made it seem like the star was on the Westport stage. Harvey — a Broadway veteran — interspersed songs with anecdotes about Ronstadt’s long career.

Tonight, the Levitt features the American Patchwork Quartet. Upcoming: Treehouse Comedy (Tuesday), Hopalong Andrew (children’s series, Wednesday), Nicki Parrott Trio (Thursday), The Lone Bellow (special benefit show, Friday) and Isaiah Sharkey (Saturday).

Click here for times, tickets (free — except Friday!), and more information.

Rita Harvey (Photo/JC Martin)

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Our athletes in Tokyo will never see it.

But — like graduates before them, who were also honored by a clever, colorful sign — this display on Pumpkin Hill near Colony Road illustrates well: It’s the thought that counts.

(Photo/Ed Simek)

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Yesterday’s “Roundup” featured the Westport Garden Club’s #FridayFlowers arrangement at the Wadsworth Arboretum.

(Photo: Susan Nettesheim)

It did not last long. Within hours, four deer devoured it.

Hey: As with the Olympic sign (above), it’s the thought that counts. (Hat tip: Dottie Fincher)

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And finally … I never liked the song “Chuck E.’s in Love.” It just kind of sat there.

But Chuck E. Weiss — the blues musician, club owner and “outsize Los Angeles character” who was the star of Rickie Lee Jones’ hit — died the other day in LA, of kidney failure. He was 76.

So, Chuck E.: This one’s for you. (PS: If for some reason you want his full obit click here.)

 

Pics Of The Day #1530

Compo Beach clouds … (Photo/Michael Tomashefsky)

… and the view from Sherwood Island (Photo/Molly Alger)

Pic Of The Day #1525

Honk if you love Sherwood Island! (Photo/Pat Saunders)