Tag Archives: Sherwood Island State Park

Roundup: WTF Dinner, Sherwood Island, Friday Flowers, More


Wakeman Town Farm’s Harvest Fest is a major fundraiser — and major fun.

This year’s event (Saturday, Sept 12, 5 to 9 p.m.), is still on. But it’s “reimagined,” to be COVID-compliant.

The dinner features a small number of tables of 4 to 8 friends, spaced out on the lawn, served by masked-and-gloved waiters. There is a 75 guest limit.

There’s an outdoor, multi-course feast by Marcia Selden Catering + Events, drinks courtesy of Tito’s Handmade Vodka (signature cocktails) and Iain and Linda Bruce (wines), and live acoustic music by Henry Jones. Town Fair Tire is the presenting sponsor. Click here for tickets.

Because of limited seating (tables sell out fast!), WTF chefs created a gourmet picnic box, to be enjoyed at the beach, a favorite scenic spot or home.

Each box includes a full meal for 2: Long Island lobster roll, jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce, classic creamy coleslaw, handcut crisp potato chips with French onion dip, and truffled popcorn. Click here to order.

You can even help Wakeman Town Farm without eating. It costs more than $10,000 a year to feed their alpacas, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and rabbits. Click here to donate.


We’re #4!

That’s the rank of Sherwood Island State Park on New England Travel Today’s list of 10 Prettiest Beaches in the 6 states. Many Westporters already know how great it is. Others have no clue.

Click here to read the writeup, and compare. (Hat tip: Jon Sinish)

Very pretty indeed! (Photo/Lauri Weiser)


Also beautiful: this week’s Westport Garden Club’s #FridayFlowers basket.

The group honored the hard work of school administrators and staff to reopen the district.

Shown below on the Town Hall steps are (from left) Michael Rizzo, assistant superintendent of pupil personnel services; John Bayers, director of human resources and general administration; Anthony Buono, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.

(Photo/Kelle Ruden)


Melissa Newman has not yet decided “weather” or not she’ll be on Main Street at Elm at 12:30 p.m. today, distributing her Paul Newman “register and vote” poster. That depends on the skies.

But she’ll be there for sure on Saturday, September 12. In the meantime, here’s another look at what she’s handing out:


And finally … just look at the sky outside:

Roundup: Young Performers, JPs, Debris Dump, More


Among the early casualties of COVID-19 last March: dozens of young performers, in the final days of rehearsals for school plays. Months of work went for naught.

Many students in canceled shows are in the acting program TheaterCamp4Kids! Broadway Academy. Owner/artistic director Laura Curley Pendergast decided to create a “Canceled Concert” video. The selection of short clips allows her young actors — from high school down through elementary age — to perform their “lost songs.”

Selections come from “Wizard of Oz,” “Seussical: The Musical,” “Shrek: The Musical,” “Legally Blonde,” “Beauty and the Beast” and more.

David Bibbey — an Emmy Award winner and talented producer of the Westport Library’s media studios — shot the video. Now just click on, sit back and enjoy!


It’s a good thing no one commutes to New York anymore.

After Tropical Storm Isaias, the town has used the Greens Farms railroad station parking lot as a spot to dump trees, branches and debri.

A few months ago, that would have wreaked havoc. Today: no problem.

There’s even plenty of room to expand.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)


Always dreamed of being a justice of the peace?

Now’s your chance!

Westport voters who are not members of a major political party but are interested in becoming a JP can request an application (email tclerk@westportct.gov) between now and November 1.

A voter must have been an unaffiliated or minor party member voter since May 1. Registered Democrats and Republicans must be named by their parties, and cannot now become unaffiliated to apply as an unaffiliated JP.

Justices of the Peace have authority to take oaths and depositions, perform marriages, and handle other duties.

Justice of the Peace Wally Meyer (left) performed a marriage at Old Mill Beach, during the first days of the pandemic lockdown.


Like so many nonprofits, Friends of Sherwood Island State Park is reinventing their annual appeal.

Theirs — an evening of food and drink at the pavilion, called the “FUNdraiser” — will this year be called … “Shorefest on a Roll.”

On Sunday, September 20, guests will enjoy a “rolling tour of the park.” As they drive through the 236-acre gem — Connecticut’s oldest state park — a podcast will describe its history and features.

There’s entertainment, including whirligigs, kites, disc golf, music and model plane flyovers. Plus: a lobster roll-to-go feast.

Proceeds support the Friends’ efforts, including the newly renovated Nature Center, tree planting, maintenance of the vast purple martin colony, and the 9/11 Memorial.

Tickets will be available soon on www.friendsofsherwoodisland.org.


And finally … true?

Photo Challenge #292

On a hot Sunday last week, “06880” offered a cool view.

Harrison Gordon’s image showed the back of a Wilton Road house, near the Kings Highway North intersection. The view was from across the Saugatuck River, by Parker Harding Plaza. (Click here to see.)

The home was designed to maximize its view. As Harrison’s photo shows, it sure does.

Wendy Cusick, Bob Grant, Susan Iseman, Rich Stein, Andrew Colabella, Ralph Balducci, Diane Silfen, James Weisz, Seth Schachter, Ken Gilbertie, PK Cleary, Lynn Untermeyer Miller and Mary Ann Batsell all nailed this one. Congrats!

Before moving on to this week’s Photo Challenge, here’s a note on the one before last. It featured “Alvord Beach” — the name of Sherwood Island State Park’s East Beach, which virtually no one has ever heard of (or used). No one around here has ever heard of “Alvord,” either.

But MaryAnn Meyer — who lives not far from Sherwood Island — found an “Alvord Genealogy” online. It mentions Nelson Alvord’s home at 295 Greens Farms Road.

Nelson Alvord began a carriage-making business in Torrington, in 1835. The genealogy notes:

He was a pioneer in shipping top vehicles to Ga. These were used for distributing merchandise through the country long before the advent of railroads in that section of the South.

He built up a large business, probably the largest in the state, employing at times 125 men. Before the railroad was built through the Naugatuck Valley, he had to transport his wagons by team to New Haven, thence by water to Savannah, Ga. He continued in active business until he retired in 1863, and removed to Green’s Farms, Conn., on the shore of Long Island Sound.

See you at Alvord Beach!

Meanwhile, see if you can identify this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport this is, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Lee Scharfstein)

Pics Of The Day #1197

Another wonderful day at Sherwood Island:

(Photos/Lauri Weiser)

Photo Challenge #291

Every Westporter knows Compo Beach.

Many know Old Mill; most know Burying (or is it Burial?) Hill Beach. Unless you live on Saugatuck Shores, you’re probably unaware of Canal Beach.

Of course we’re also blessed with Sherwood Island, the beautiful state park on Long Island Sound between Burying Hill and Old Mill.

But Alvord Beach? Who ever heard of that?

Hardly anyone.

It was news to me too when Amy Schneider sent a photo of it. Turns out that’s the official name of “East Beach” — the section of Sherwood Island closest to (and separated only by a channel from) Burying Hill. (Click here to see.)

“Where is Alvord Beach?” was last week’s question, accompanying Amy’s photo.

Jonathan Maddock and Jalna Jaeger correctly identified the image as Sherwood Island. But only Chris Swan knew the exact location there.

How did Chris — one of the state park’s biggest fans — have the answer?

He looked in his membership package, from Friends of Sherwood Island.

So who was Mr. (or Ms.) Alvord?

That’s still a mystery. If you know, click “Comments” below.

Which is exactly what you should do if you know where you’d see this week’s artsy, almost-painting-like (but vaguely familiar?) Photo Challenge:

(Photo/Harrison Gordon)

4 Months In: Pandemic Reflections

It’s mid-July. We’re now 4 months  — 1/3 of a year — into a world we never imagined in those innocent days of late winter.

When Westport schools suddenly closed on March 11, we were told “2 weeks.” That stretched into mid-April. Finally, the inevitable announcement: School was done for the rest of the year.

We’d already endured a lot. A “super-spreader” party landed Westport in the national spotlight. On the first nice weekend, hundreds headed to Compo. Within hours, town officials closed the beaches.

We foraged for toilet paper, figured out how to find curbside food, watched our hair grow.

Jeera Thai, downtown across from Design Within Reach, was an early adopter of curbside dining.

Those early days seem like a thousand years ago. The time before the pandemic — say, March 10 — belongs to another universe.

But this is the town, the country and the planet we inhabit now. Four months in to our new (ab)normal, here are a few thoughts.

My nephew and his wife had a child last week. What is it like to be born at a time when everyone a baby meets wears a mask? How can he make sense of the world without seeing smiling faces admiring his every move? And it’s not just newborns I worry about. The longer we all must wear masks, the harder it is for any of us to make the human connections so vital to all our lives.

Momentous world events shape the young generations that live through them. The Depression, for example, scarred people forever. For decades, men and women who now had plenty of money ate everything on their plate, because they still worried where their next meal would come from. They turned off lights in empty rooms, to “save electricity.” It’s too early to know how the pandemic will etch itself into the brains of young people, but I can’t imagine they’ll have a positive, adventurous view of the world.

On the other hand, it’s been fun watching so many families embrace the outdoors. They walk together, all over. Teenagers who seldom exercised took up running. Bikes were hauled up from the basement. The town is reopening now, but I still see more outdoor activity than ever.

. (Photo/Anna Kretsch)

I was impressed too by the number of teenagers who used their time away from school productively. I suggested to the players in our Staples High School soccer program that they try new activities. I expected eye-rolling. What I got was a number who learned how to cook, play guitar or write code.

We held weekly Zoom calls with our returning players. A couple of weeks ago, I asked what they have learned about themselves. The results were insightful — and inspiring. “I learned I need structure in my life. I wasn’t happy just sleeping until noon,” one said. “I had a great time with my siblings,” another noted. “I learned not to be afraid of spending time alone,” said a third. “I realized I really like myself!”

No one knows yet what the fall sports season will look like (or if there will be one). But when I return to the soccer field (whenever that is), I know I will be a different coach than before. I already feel things shifting. Little things that used to drive me up a wall — a referee’s call, or canceling a training session at the threat of rain that does not come — will no longer seem worrisome. Our players, and the joy they get from the sport, will become more important than ever.

With so many new rules and regulations, meanwhile, will many old ones seem insignificant? Does it really matter if, in the winter, dogs are unleashed on one part of the beach and not another? Or if, during the summer, we have bottles and cans at Compo?

As for the beach: One unintended consequence of the pandemic is that Westporters discovered Sherwood Island. The 232-acre gem — with walking trails, wildlife, a Nature Center and the state’s 9/11 memorial — has sat right there, virtually unnoticed by most of us, for decades. The secret is out now. And did I mention that for anyone with a Connecticut license plate, it’s free?!

Sherwood Island (Photo/Roseann Spengler)

Until the Y reopened for swimming, I spent an hour or two every day biking. It was great exercise, and with little traffic on the roads, I no longer feared for my life. My goal — which I did not meet — was to ride up and down every side street in town. There are lots of them! (Nearly every one ends in a cul-de-sac.) And boy, are our roads in terrible condition. Soundview Drive is smooth and newly paved. Everywhere else — well, I had a new reason to fear for my life.

From the start, we knew some restaurants would not survive. It’s so sad to think of those we’ve lost, like Da Pietro’s, Tavern on Main and Le Penguin. And Chez 180: The patisserie across from Jeera Thai opened just a few days before the coronavirus hit. Everyone raved about it. The doors are shut now; new furnishings and gleaming cases sit forlorn and empty. The timing could not have been worse.

Closings like those have made us realize the importance of so many (mostly non-Westporters) to our lives. Restaurant cooks; the folks who stock shelves and work registers at CVS, Walgreens, Stop & Shop and Trader Joe’s; mail carriers, and FedEx and UPS deliver persons. There are literally thousands of others. Some lost work; others worked harder than others. Until March, we pretty much saw through and past them. Now we understand that they’re the men and women who make Westport go.

Volunteers also make Westport go. Many organizations lost fundraisers this year: A Better Chance. The Westport Woman’s Club. Sunrise Rotary. They do so much good for our town. They have not complained at all — but I’m surprised so little attention has been paid to their collateral damage.

A few days ago, I went inside Staples High School. Even in summer, it usually bustles with activity. The emptiness this time was overwhelming. A school without people is not really a school.

That same day, I saw a Dattco bus. I have no idea why it was on the road, or where it was going. But it made me wish — almost — that once again I could be stuck behind it, creeping along as it stops every 5 yards to serve one eager, backpacked (and unmasked) child at a time.

Minutes after the second plane struck the 9/11 tower — when it was clear the US was under attack — I had one overpowering thought: Our world has just changed forever. I did not know how — who could have imagined the effects on our airports, immigration system and political process? — but there is a clear, defining line. There was life before 9/11, and life after.

I had the same thought in the early days of the pandemic. Since then, that realization has become a reality. Once again, I am not sure what life post-pandemic will look like. But everything — from daily school bus rides and summers at Compo, to the way my 2-week-old great-nephew relates to his parents, peers and the entire planet — will be different.

Those are my admittedly random, very personal thoughts. What have you learned — about yourself, our town, the world — since March 11? Click “Comments” below.

 

Pic Of The Day #1176

Wise words at Sherwood Island (Photo/Maggie Moffitt Rahe)

Beach Access Back In The News

Westport has made the New York Times again.

This time, it’s in an opinion column by Andrew W. Kahrl. He’s a professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Virginia, and the author of “Free the Beaches: The Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America’s Most Exclusive Shoreline.

But his reference to our town is not from the 1960s and ’70s, when Greenwich and other suburban towns famously excluded non-residents from their shores.

Writing yesterday in a piece titled “Who Will Get to Swim This Summer?” — with the subhead “History is repeating itself as pools, beaches and clubs open — but mostly for the privileged few” — he says:

In the summer of 1929, residents of the town of Westport along Connecticut’s Gold Coast reported a “new menace” threatening the health and safety of their community: New Yorkers fleeing the squalid, scorching city and flocking to a new state beach located on neighboring Sherwood Island. Because it was state-owned land, all the residents could do, one reporter noted, was “to make access as difficult as possible.” Which they did.

Westport officials hired a contractor to dredge a creek and flood the road connecting the state beach to the mainland. The move, one state official said, “will effectively prevent visitors from reaching the state property.” Westport officials insisted that they were simply seeking to eliminate a mosquito breeding ground — but as another state official remarked, “the real object is to keep the people off state property.”

Shewood Island State Park: 232 acres of prime real estate, right here in Westport.

The people in question were the “unwashed masses” from neighboring cities: the blacks, Jews, Italians and others denied membership to country clubs, who had few options for summertime relief. As America slipped deeper into the Great Depression, the nation’s swelling homeless population was added to the list. A state park, one resident decried, “would be an invitation to the scum.” Sherwood Island, another bemoaned, “looks like a gypsy camp and new tents are being erected every day.”

While Westport’s residents privately fumed over the park’s impact on the area’s property values, in public hearings they claimed to be concerned solely about the park’s purportedly unsanitary conditions. It was no coincidence that during these same years, several towns along Connecticut’s Gold Coast first adopted ordinances restricting access to town beaches and other places of outdoor recreation to residents only.

Westport has followed the lead of many municipalities in the tri-state area in banning out-of-towners — wherever they live — from parking at local beaches.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Kahrl concludes:

Public health experts agree that so long as people take precautions, outdoor activities are not only safe but also necessary for coping with the stress of the pandemic. But the exclusionary tactics of privileged communities and cost-cutting measures of underresourced ones this summer will force many Americans to suffer inside or seek out unsupervised, potentially dangerous bodies of water to cool off. And it’s not hard to imagine that pools and beaches with restricted access could become flash points of conflict with law enforcement officials, endangering black and brown youth.

It’s simple, really. Our ability to find relief from the heat, and to enjoy time outdoors this summer, should not be determined by where we live and the social and economic advantages we enjoy.

(To read the full New York Times column, click here.)

Pics Of The Day #1165

Beach scenes:

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

(Photos=/Lauri Weiser)

(Photo/Daniel Hoffman)

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

(Photo/Deirdre Doran)

 

Pics Of The Day #1155

Sherwood Island morning … (Photo/Roseann Spengler)

… afternoon … (Photo/Amy Schneider)

… and evening (Photo/Les Dinkin)