Tag Archives: Staples High School Orphenians

Roundup: Trash Trucks, Smithereens, Smokes …

Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup announced the delivery of 2 trash trucks and 2 police cars to Westport’s new sister city: Lyman, Ukraine.

Katya Wauchope took yesterday’s videos and photos from Brian Mayer, and created this important report of the day. As mayor Alexander Victoravich Zuravlov notes, this was the most pressing need for his town.

Click below for the video:

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The first announcement of VersoFest 2023 is a big one.

The Smithereens headline the Friday, March 31 concert at the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum.

Joining the Smithereens as lead vocalist that night: Marshall Crenshaw.

The opening act is Americana musician Amilia K Spicer, fresh off a rave review from NPR. Miriam Linna DJs the night, with 45s from one of the most revered record collections anywhere.

VersoFest is a multi-day music and media festival/conference, born at the Library’s Verso Studios.

The festival opens Thursday, March 30, and continues with a full slate of programs and workshops Saturday and Sunday, April 1-2. Famed producer Steve Lillywhite delivers the keynote Saturday afternoon.

Founded in New Jersey in 1980, The Smithereens have created electrifying, original rock ‘n’ roll for 42 years. Their take-no-prisoners, East Coast roots-rock sound was inspired by Buddy Holly, The Who, Nick Lowe and The Move.

They were in heavy rotation on MTV, and appeared on “The Tonight Show,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “Saturday Night Live.” The Smithereens have performed at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, Radio City Music Hall, and internationally from Europe to Australia. Tourmates include Tom Petty, Squeeze, the Pretenders, Lou Reed and the Ramones.

Tickets for the show are $40; click here to purchase. Click here for more information on the Smithereens, and VersoFest.

The Smithereens, with Marshall Crenshaw (white vest).

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Westport Police report 2 custodial arrests between January 12 and 18.

One was a follow-up on a previous incident on Center Street where an individual was acting erratically, drinking motor oil. and yelling at officers. While fighting with the officers, the suspect punched them in their heads, causing one to fall and break his wrist. He referred to officers with derogatory names, and made threatening statements concerning officers and their families. He was charged with assault on a public safety officer, and threatening.

The second arrest came after damage to property owned by the Westport Housing Authority, caused by driving on grass. He was charged with criminal mischief.

Police issued the following citations:

  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 8
  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 4
  • Misuse of plates: 4
  • Failure to obey control signal: 4
  • Speeding: 2
  • Distracted driving: 2
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 2
  • Failure to display plates: 2
  • Failure to renew registration: 2
  • Violation of any traffic control regulation: 2
  • Insurance coverage fails minimum requirements: 2
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 1
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 1
  • Driving with out-of-state plates after 30 days: 1
  • Disobeying the signal of an officer: 1.

One arrest began when a suspect was drinking motor oil.

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In other Westport Police news, the department yesterday conducted unannounced inspections of businesses that sell tobacco products and/or e-cigarettes. The goal was determine compliance with state laws prohibiting sales to anyone under 21.

All 5 were found to be in full compliance

  • Shell/A1 Smoke Shop (322 Post Road East)
  • Cumberland Farms (690 Post Road East)
  • Westport Cigar & Vape
  • Merritt Country Store
  • WP Convenience (1761 Post Road East).

Vaping devices.

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Remember how much fun the Yankee Doodle Fair was? Of course!

Remember how the sponsors — the Westport Woman’s Club — told you it was a fundraiser for important local causes? Of course not!

But it was. It always is.

The WWC has just announced their 2023 grant recipients. Thanks to your generosity — well, your purchase of ride tickets, games of chance and food — these non-profits will share $41,000:

  • Burroughs Community Center
  • Cancer Care
  • Child Advocates of Southwestern Connecticut
  • Circle of Care for Families of Children with Cancer
  • Circle of Friends Connecticut
  • CLASP Homes
  • Domestic Violence Crisis Center
  • ElderHouse
  • Family & Children’s Agency
  • Food Rescue US
  • Hall Neighborhood House
  • Homes with Hope
  • Horizons at Norwalk Community College
  • Human Services Council/Children’s Connection
  • Liberation Recovery for Life Programs
  • Malta House
  • My Team Triumph – Connecticut
  • Norwalk Housing Foundation
  • Person to Person
  • Positive Directions
  • Regional Hospice and Home Care Western Connecticut
  • St. Catherine Center for Special Needs
  • Suzuki Music School
  • Urban Impact of Black Rock
  • VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399.

See you at the fair!

These kids helped raise $41,000 for charity. (Photo/Stephanie Mastocciolo)

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Westporters continue to help Lyman, Ukraine.

On the heels of yesterday’s delivery of 2 police vehicles and 2 trash trucks to our new sister city, Katya Wauchope — a key member of the group that worked to raise $252,000 in 19 days for the war-torn town — sent a photo of her latest project:

It’s one of many camouflage hats she’s knitting for the Lyman police.

“Ukrainians are used to having their grandmas knit hats, socks and mittens for their family,” Katya — a native of that country — says.

“So I decided to be the town grandma!”

She began knitting last month. So far, she’s made nearly 2 dozen.

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Against all odds, a group of residents continues to battle the Hiawatha Lane/Summit Saugatuck development. They write:

“Our historic, working-class, single-family neighborhood became the sacrificial lamb of Westport. Due to their lack of proper planning, the town of Westport had failed to meet their mandated 8-30g [affordable housing] quota, and allowing this project to go forward would remedy that oversight, so the rest of Westport would not be burdened.

“Please note: Our objection has to do with size, scale, environmental issues, traffic, pedestrian safety, and EMS access issues. Our objection to this development has nothing to do with permitting affordable housing, as that is acknowledged and recognized as the historic and existing strong community identifier and profile that is Old Saugatuck.

“Having taken our objections as far as we could through Town of Westport channels, we had to secure legal services from an attorney to fight this dangerous development in court… which is extremely costly. But we must Save Old Saugatuck.

“We have received contributions from very supportive neighbors and friends, and that has enabled us to begin this challenging legal process. We are forever grateful for their help. However, the battle is not over, and we desperately need further contributions to see this chapter through successfully.

“The court ruling has the potential to be a historic and ground-breaking (no pun intended!) ruling… we believe it is worth the effort to preserve the integrity and beauty of this historic neighborhood. After 20 years – we don’t want to give up!”

They created a GoFundMe page, to raise legal fees. Click here for the Save Old Saugatuck website.

Artist’s rendering of the proposed 187-unit apartment complex on Hiawatha Lane.

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You’re not going with Staples Orphenians on their summer trip to Hawaii.

You may not even be able to attend this Sunday’s Aloha Cabaret fundraiser.

But you can join the elite singing group’s silent auction.

Items include jewelry, tickets to a late night show, a private plan flight, trips, golf and more.

Click here for the full list, and to bid. The auction ends Monday (January 23), at 9 p.m.

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Business Networking International’s Westport chapter invites professionals to an open networking session (7 to 7:30 a.m.) and Visitor’s Day (7:30 to 9 a.m.) next Thursday (January 26, United Methodist Church, 49 Weston Road).

The organization — which is limited to one professional per category — has openings in these categories: LinkedIn expert, counseling services or psychotherapist, home security, HVAC, photographer, caterer or bakery, florist, event/wedding planner, home inspector, moving company, travel/tour operator, automotive repair, landscaper, electrician, payroll, product development firm/inventor, IP attorney, consumer products company and professional writer.

All visitors must pre-register; email cara.mocarski@welcomewagon.comClick here for more information.

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Michelle Lieberson explains today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

“Yesterday I looked outside to find 3 goats in my Clover Lane yard. When Animal Control walked over I asked if they escaped from Wakeman Town Farm, which is not that close, but not far.

“He said they came from a neighbor’s house on Victoria Lane. It took a while, but they wrangled one of them. I snapped a photo of the other two.

“I asked if it’s legal to keep them. The man from Animal Control said he would have a talk with the neighbors.”

(Photo/Michelle Lieberson)

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And finally … in honor of the Smithereens’ upcoming appearance at the Westport Library’s VersoFest (story above):

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(Where else but “06880” would you learn that drinking motor oil could lead to an arrest? Please click here to keep stories like that one coming. Thank you!)

 

 

Orphenians Sway To “Aloha Cabaret”

It’s winter in Westport. Plenty of folks are dreaming of Hawaii.

The Orphenians will actually go there.

Well, not until June. But Staples High School’s elite a cappella choral group is already making plans. And rehearsing.

And raising funds.

The trip to the International Luau of Song Festival, with director Luke Rosenberg and conductor Pearl Shangkuan of Calvin College, will include learning about cultural music, performing, and touring on both Oahu and the Big Island.

All 42 Orphenians are going. They’ve set a goal of $45,000, to cover expenses of those who cannot afford it all.

So think leis and grass skirts, and get ready for an “Aloha Cabaret.” It’s set for January 22, at the Westport Library.

Broadway and Metropolitan Opera star, Tony Award-winning Kelli O’Hara — a Westporter, and Orphenians fan — will perform. Choral alumni like Clay Singer, Georgia Wright and others joins her on stage.

Rosenberg will sing too. For those who know him only from the back, as he wields his baton, that’s a special treat.

The emcee is David Pogue. Among many other talents, the “CBS Sunday Morning” correspondent is a former Broadway arranger and conductor (and father of Orphenians).

A silent auction includes an array of items, from Caribbean stays and jewelry to lessons and coaching. There are Hawaiian-themed light bites too.

Just what we need for a cold — but also very cool — January night.

(VIP tickets are $225 per person; they include 6 p.m. early entry, choice seating, and a meet-and-greet with performers. General admission tickets are $150 per person, for 6:30 p.m. entry. Click here to purchase. To make a donation without purchasing, click here. Questions? Email Staples.Music.Parents.Assn@gmail.com.)

Click below for the Orphenians’ most recent Westport Library event. They performed holiday music, and selections from their fall concert.

Roundup: Ukraine Art Auction, Hamlet At Saugatuck, Fox News Lawsuit …

As donations for our new sister city in Lyman, Ukraine surge toward $120,000 — more than halfway to our goal of $250,000 to rebuild 150 homes, provide generators and a water filtration system — our partners in our other (and longtime) sister city of Marigny, France are pitching in.

In 1991, Roger Potier — a Marigny landscape artist — painted a scene of his Normandy town:

Our friends in Marigny have offered it as an auction item. The winning bidder will donate that price to the Lyman fund — and it will be shipped direct to you, from France. The dimensions are 16″ x 12″.

The bidding starts at $1,000, and runs until 11:59 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, December 24). Click “Comments” below to bid. You do not have to include your real name — but be sure to fill out the email address in the Comment box, so I’ll know who you are!

Meanwhile, to make a non-auction bid: Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

Meanwhile, we’ll add this thought from 2 noted Westporters.

David Pogue says:

When all a town wants for Christmas is plywood, generators, and drinking water, you know its citizens are in a dire situation.

Our sister city Lyman didn’t ask for this horrific invasion, attack, and devastation; this is a “there but for the grace of God go we” situation.

Let’s give them electricity, water, and tools to rebuild. Let’s show them kindness in a time of desperation. And in this Ukrainian season of devastation, destruction, and death, let’s send them a reminder that compassion and generosity are still alive.

David Pogue urges holiday donations for Lyman.

Ed Gerber adds:

I donated $500 to Ukraine Aid International, because my late father always told me that allowing Hitler to annex the Sudetenland was a horrible mistake that led to World War II.

If we do nothing against “Tsar” Vladimir’s aggression in Ukraine, where will he stop? Next it could be the Baltic States, Finland, Poland, Moldova to name a few undoubtedly on his list. If we do nothing and Putin invades “free” Ukraine, there will be a bloodbath of gargantuan proportions.

Knowing this, if I have an opportunity to help prevent it from happening, and do nothing, it will haunt me for the rest of my life. Please donate – it’s easy!

Ed Gerber

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A petition to review the Hamlet at Saugatuck text and map amendments has been filed with the town clerk.

The action — following the Planning & Zoning Commission’s recent approval of the hotel/retail/and more project on Riverside Avenue and Railroad Place — sends the decision to the Representative Town Meeting.

They have 30 calendar days from yesterday to complete a review. A supermajority of the RTM — 24 members — can vote to overturn the text amendments.

They cannot modify the decision; only vote to uphold or deny.

P&Z chair Danielle Dobin says, “This process is unique to Westport, thanks to our town charter. It is another way in which Westport is special. We are truly the most democratic of towns.

“The RTM review provides another opportunity to discuss the approved text amendment in a public forum, address questions, and tell the story of how the P&Z Commission shaped this proposal to work for Westport.”

Artist’s rendering of a Hamlet at Saugatuck courtyard.

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Sean Hannity was deposed in August, in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News.

But several statements that emerged Wednesday are making news.

Hannity said he did “not believe … for one second” that Dominion was part of fraud in the 2020 election. Neither did Fox News’ executive vice president, and other high-profile executives at the network.

Those details emerged in Delaware Superior Court. With a high legal standard of proof in defamation cases, Dominion must show a jury “convincing evidence that speaks to the state of mind of those who were making the decisions” at Fox, says the New York Times. (Click here for more details, from NPR.)

The company was arguing this week that they had enough evidence to make that case. Co-lead counsel for Dominion’s legal team is Stephen Shackelford, Jr.

A partner and trial lawyer at Susman Godfrey, the Harvard University and Harvard Law School graduate (first in his class) and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is a Westport resident. He and his wife Stefanie are the parents of 4 school-age children. In his spare time, he serves on Westport’s Representative Town Meeting. (Hat tip: Tom Prince)

Stephen Shackelford, on CNN.

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On Monday, the Orphenians — Staples High School’s elite vocal ensemble — entertained a large Westport Library crowd.

They’ve been part of our music scene for nearly 70 years. This week’s show included holiday selections, and several from their highly regarded fall concert.

The event was sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston. Click below to enjoy. (Hat tip: John Brandt)

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“Newsboy” — a 1954 photograph by Westport resident and Internationally known photographer Larry Silver — has been acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Silver took the now iconic photo as a scholarship student at The Art Center School in LA. Part of a photographic series of Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, it has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Westport Art Center.

It’s the first work by Silver to enter the Getty, and complements the work of mid-20th century documentary photographers.

“Newsboy” (Larry Silver)

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The Joggers Club invites all members — and runners who might become members, and anyone else — to their holiday party.

It’s next Thursday (December 29, 7:30 p.m., Romanacci). Members get a free drink!

The Joggers Club welcomes all levels. The number one goal is to have fun.  Everything else is a distant second.

There are fun runs at Compo Beach every Saturday at 8 p.m.; track nights at Norwalk High School on Wednesdays (6:15 p.m.), and Joggers Club Jr. (kindergarten through high school) coming this spring.

Membership ($50 per year) includes a Brooks podium racing shirt for all new members.

For more information click here; check out The Joggers Club on Facebook or Strava, or follow on Instagram (@TheJoggersClub.ct).

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Alan Mande — a 1963 Staples High School graduate, and former Grateful Dead sound engineer — died suddenly at his Mount Shasta, California home last month. He was 77.

The Brooklyn native moved with his family to Westport at age 5. His mother Frances still lives here. Alan was active in Staples Players.

He majored in theater arts at Brandeis University, then spent 2 years at the Yale School of Drama.

Alan took his Players and Westport Country Playhouse stage skills to join Bill Graham’s Fillmore East sound crew as an engineer. He worked on shows like Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsies’ New Year’s Eve show in 1970, and others by the Allman Brothers and Crosby Still Nash & Young.

In 1969 Alan’s life changed forever when, while working at the Fillmore East concert venue, he discovered the Grateful Dead. They inspired him to move to California in 1970, where he worked as a sound engineer and stage manager for the Firehouse Theater. In 1971 he met his future wife Nancy, in San Rafael.

Alan earned his master’s in marriage and family therapy from Lone Mountain College. He spent 31 years as a state-licensed MFT.

Alan was involved in many Mount Shasta activities. He assisted with numerous youth theater productions and coached Little League.

Alan’s passion for the Grateful Dead continued throughout his life. He was a prolific collector and archiver of tapes. He is cited in many articles, books and forums as one of the sound engineers who originated the tradition of “stealth taping” and distributing recordings to the larger community, assuring their posterity.

He loved music, theater, children, the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco sports teams, and chocolate

Alan is survived by his mother Frances, sister Susan, brother Jerry, and children Molly and Caton. Contributions in his name can be made to the Jerry Garcia Foundation.

Alan Mande. Yes, that is Jerry Garcia at the center of the steering wheel.

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Today’s spectacular “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Wendy Crowther.

She explains: “I was taking a photo of birds swarming my birdfeeders yesterday (perhaps sensing the big storm and deep freeze coming in). Suddenly, something big flashed by my lens causing the birds to scatter.

“I looked up to see this hawk sitting on a low branch 10 feet from the feeder. It waited, changing perches, in hopes an unsuspecting bird would return to the feeder. None did. The hawk eventually flew off.

“As best as I can tell, this is a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk, or a juvenile Cooper’s hawk. Both species prey on birds and other small animals. Like all juveniles, practice will make perfect. But hopefully not at my birdfeeder, and especially not while I’m watching.”

(Photo/Wendy Crowther)

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And finally … Wendy Crowther’s photo of the hawk (above) — and today’s wind — remind me of Lou Rawls’ “Dead End Street.”

Why? Well, it begins:

I was born in a city the called the “Windy City”
And they call it the “Windy City” because of the ‘Hawk.”
All mighty Hawk,
Talking about Mr. Wind — kind of mean around winter time

It’s a great song. Give it a listen — and stay warm and dry.

(Got nothing to do today, with the rain coming down, all the Christmas presents wrapped, the tree trimmed and everything else taken care of? Please consider an “06880” donation. Just click here — and thank you!)

 

Roundup: OKA, Orphenians, Children’s Care …

Opening today (with just 9 shopping days left before Christmas): OKA.

The British furniture and home accessories retailer moves into the former Banana Republic (and before that, Klein’s) space on Main Street.

They call this their “US flagship.” There are 14 OKAs in the UK, plus 2 in Texas (Dallas and Houston).

A press release hails the store’s “signature mix of classic, eclectic and contemporary furniture and homeware (for) shoppers and designers looking to add character to their homes.”

OKA’s Westport location includes a “series of fully decorated rooms and vignettes featuring a treasure trove of unusual finds and statement pieces. (There are) samples of our custom handmade seating service, Tailored by OKA, an English garden’s worth of faux flowers and plants, and a dedicated team of Home Stylists on hand to give advice and help realize your dream interiors. ”

O-kay!

 

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Meanwhile, opening yesterday: A new 30,000-square foot specialty care center opened, at 191 Post Road West (just west of Nash’s Plaza).

Connecticut Children’s Specialty Care Center features murals of the ocean, forests, sky and stars (with 12 LED constellations). There are self check-in kiosks, exam and procedure rooms, an outpatient infusion center, imaging services, plus speech, occupational and physical therapy, EEG and echocardiogram, and casting rooms.

This is the largest of Connecticut Children’s 6 specialty care centers. More than 20 specialties are represented.

Yesterday’s grand opening included a paper ribbon chain made by area kids, and Santa (and the Grinch) handing out toys.

Santa arrives at the Connecticut Children’s Specialty Center.

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Didn’t score a ticket for this weekend’s Candlelight Concerts? Or just a holiday music junkie who wants to hear more from the fabulous Orphenians?

The highly acclaimed Staples High School a cappella group present their traditional December program for the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston — and everyone is invited.

The event is Monday (December 19, 5 p.m.) at the Westport Library Trefz Forum.

Staples’ Orphenians are in high demand this month. In addition to this weekend’s Candlelight Concert, they sang recently at the town holiday tree lighting, for the Rotary Club and at Assumption Church — among many other gigs.

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Looking for a nice holiday meal?

La Plage — the popular and scenic Longshore Inn restaurant — offers 3-course dinners on Christmas Eve (4 to 10 p.m.) and Christmas day (noon to 7 p.m.), plus an early New Year’s Eve dinner (5 to 7 p.m., with a la carte specials); a gala New Year’s Eve dinner (8:30 to 10:30 p.m.; 5-course menu, Champagne toast, and live music by Tangled Vine),

Click here for menus and reservations.

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With approval ratings above 75%, Charlie Baker is the most popular governor in the nation.

The Massachusetts Republican chose not to run again. When his term ends next month, he’s got a new gig: President. (Of the NCAA, that is.)

The tangential connection to “06880” is that Governor Baker’s wife — Lauren Schadt — grew up in Westport. Back then, she was “Laurie.”

She’s no slouch herself. With an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School, she is a marketing communications consultant. She is active in many volunteer efforts, focusing on education. As First Lady of Massachusetts, she worked closely with the Department of Children and Families.

Governor Baker is familiar with his new role. Two of his and Lauren’s 3 children are former college athletes.

Governor Charlie Baker and Lauren Schadt Baker.

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Our “Westport … Naturally” feature usually celebrates the animals, flowers, trees and other scenes of beauty that make our town beautiful.

Today’s image is from Terrain. Sure, it’s a business. But there are enough elements of nature here — and it’s so beautifully photographed by Patricia McMahon — that it fits right in.

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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And finally … happy 76th birthday to Trevor Pinnock. The English harpsichordist and conductor — heard often on WSHU’s “Sunday Baroque” — is 76.

 

 

Roundup: WestportREADS, Orphenians Sing, Playhouse Plays …

For over 20 years, the Westport Library has offered one book for the entire community to read — and celebrate — together.

This year’s WestportREADS selection is “Firekeeper’s Daughter.” Angeline Boulley’s young adult novel features 18-year-old Daunis Fontaine, a Native teen who must navigate family tragedy, new relationships, and an FBI investigation to root out the corruption in her community.

The author will deliver a keynote address on February 16, in the Trefz Forum. Events leading up to her appearance include:

  • PageTurners Book Club discussion (January 17, 11 a.m., Westport Library)
  • WestportREADS skating afternoon (January 21, 1 to 5 p.m., Westport PAL Longshore rink)
  • Healing Legacy Trauma (February 1, 7 p.m., Westport Library).
  • WestportREADS book discussion (February 2, 7 p.m., Westport Library).

More events will be announced soon.

Boulley is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan. She served as her tribe’s education director, and assistant executive director and on the board of regents at Bay Mills Community College before becoming director for the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

At the age of 54, she recently published her first novel.

Angeline Boulley (Photo/Marcella Hadden)

“Firekeeper’s Daughter” is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and a Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine Book Club YA Pick. It is being adapted by Netflix for TV with former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground.

Copies of the book are available for borrowing now at the Library. It is also available as an e-book and audiobook. For more information on WestportREADS, click here.

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A longstanding Westport Rotary Club tradition returned yesterday. The Staples High School Orphenians performed a holiday show.

The half-hour  a cappella concert was held in the acoustically resonant sanctuary of Green’s Farms Congregational Church. From “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies” to “Silent Night,” it was a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays.

Conductor Luke Rosenberg leads the Orphenians at the Westport Rotary Club holiday show, in Green’s Farms Church. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)

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Mark Yurkiw writes:

“Yesterday was the last day to donate equipment for a shipment to Ukraine. The response was fantastic. Three more generators showed up, and a dozen sleeping bags, and more.

“But yesterday I got a message that the shipping departure date is postponed until next Wednesday.

“There were many people who wanted to donate but couldn’t do it in time. They now have one more week.”

Donations can be brought to 190 Cross Highway and left by the barn. For questions or pickup arrangements, call Mark: 646-873-0050.

Donations for Ukraine — in the country’s familiar blue and yellow colors.

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“06880” is “where Westport meets the world.”

Lake Gallery is where talented local photographers show stunning large-scale images, taken from around the world.

Westporters Ron Lake and Nancy Breakstone host an opening reception this Friday (December 16, 6 to 8 p.m., 33 Elm Street) of their work.

This is Ron’s second gallery, after opening Focus in 2020 in Woodstock, Vermont. Nancy has curated shows at Earthplace, the Carriage Barn in New Canaan and Rene Soto Gallery in Norwalk.

(Photo/Nancy Breakstone)

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When COVID shut the Westport Country Playhouse, they reached audiences with a new/old idea: Playhouse Radio Theater.

The curtain has risen again. But the innovative series continues.

Next up: a holiday audio play. “A Merry Little Christmas Carol” — with original music and clever sound effects — airs on WSHU on Christmas Eve (December 24, 6:06 p.m. following the news). It will be rebroadcast Christmas Day (December 25, 1:06 p.m.).

Click here for the livestream. Click here for frequencies and locations. Click here for the link via the Playhouse website (available through January 1).

“A Merry Little Christmas Carol” is written and directed by Mark Shanahan, adapted from his play of the same name, and based on “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Shanahan is curator of Playhouse Radio Theater, in addition to curating the Playhouse Script in Hand play reading series.

WCP artistic director Mark Lamos narrates, with noted Playhouse actors like Paxton Whitehead (Scrooge). Running time is 2 hours.

Bah, humbug!

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Longtime Westport Public Schools director of personnel Nancy Bonvini died peacefully last week. She was 88, and lived in Fairfield.

Following her retirement in 1999, she volunteered at Black Rock School, and was a tutor at Mercy Learning Center.

She enjoyed listening to good music, was an avid reader, and enjoyed time by Long Island Sound and surrounded by nature.

A service will be held tomorrow (Thursday, December 15, 11 a.m. Spear-Miller Funeral Home, 39 South Benson Road, Fairfield). Interment will follow in St. Michael’s Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, friends may consider a donation in Nancy’s memory to Mercy Learning Center, 637 Park Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06604.

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An almost-winter day showcases Westport’s stark beauty, in today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature. This beach is on Saugatuck Shores.

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

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And finally … on this day in 1782, the Montgolfier brothers first flew an unmanned hot air balloon in France. It floated nearly 1.6 miles.

(“06880” is seldom filled with hot air. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

 

 

 

Roundup: Malone Refuse Gets Scammed; Turkey Trot T-Shirt Goes Viral …

Kristen Stroud posted this important — but depressing — information on social media:

“My family owns Malone’s Refuse Service. A customer brought to our attention that someone is fraudulently soliciting holiday tips.

“The person placed these cards (photo below) in mailboxes, hoping the customer will then mail them a holiday gift. This person is not employed by Malone’s Refuse Service. We will be reporting it to the police.

“Between this scam and all of the recent issues with check washing and mail being stolen, if you would like to gift your actual refuse collector, you can email me at malonesrefuse@gmail.com and we will figure out the safest way to do so.”

Calling Sherlock Holmes!

Or really, any 1st grader who can read.

With the address provided, it should not take long to crack this case wide open.

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Every organization in Westport (and beyond) asks Miggs Burroughs for favors.

He always obliges.

For over 30 years, the talented and generous artist/graphic designer (and longtime runner) has designed t-shirts for the Pequot Running Club’s annual “Turkey Trot.” Proceeds go to the club, and charity.

They’re great souvenirs. Then they end up in the bottom of runners’ drawers, replaced by their next race t-shirt.

This year Miggs commemorated 45 years of Turkey Trotting. He chose historic national and world events from those past years, and included them in the design.

Uh oh.

A Tik Tok user named “Crawlie” — who did not run in the race, and apparently had way too much time on her hands — did not like Miggs’ choices. She posted her thoughts.

@crawlie

#greenscreen my outfit is giving miscallaneous star wars girlie but i cant do anything about it now #thanksgiving #fyp #kellyclarkson

♬ original sound – crawlie

For reasons known only to Tik Tok users, Crawlie’s post has received over 688,000 views. It’s generated more than 2,800 comments.

Most people did not share her outrage.

In fact, requests to buy t-shirts have poured in from across the country.

Take that, Crawlie!

PS: Another Tik Toker attempted a Billy Joel/”We Didn’t Start the Fire”-style video. It’s pretty weak. Still, it gives you an idea of the “controversy” surrounding the shirt.

@lucybiggers

Our towns Turkey trot shirt decided to make a “run through history list” and this is what they came up with…

♬ We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel

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Staples High School’s elite Orphenians sang …

… and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker made brief remarks (including a shout out to the Public Works Department, for decorations). She then asked kids in the crowd to join her, counting down “3 … 2 … 1!” …

… and wham! Last night, Westport’s Christmas (aka Holiday) tree was lit, in front of Town Hall by Myrtle Avenue.

(Photos/Dan Woog)

Missed it? No problem!

There’s another tree lighting tonight (Friday, 4:30 p.m., Wakeman Town Farm). Stick around for carols and treats, too.

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Speaking of Christmas songs: The Saugatuck Caroling Crawl returns a week from tomorrow (Saturday, December 10).

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce event was last held in pre-COVID 2019.

This year once again, 6 Staples Orphenians will sing holiday songs, moving from one restaurant to the next. They’ll hit 14 in all.

Carolers begin their rounds at the Boathouse at 6:30 p.m. They’ll head to Parker Mansion, Kawa Ni, The Whelk, Tutti’s and the Black Duck, before making their way to Railroad Place to sing at Tarantino, Harvest, Romanacci and Allium.

They finish by 8:30 p.m., after entertaining diners at Match Lobster Burger, Rizzuto’s, Viva Zapata and Dunville’s.

Participating Orphs include Sophia Betit, Madelyn Spera, James Dobin-Smith, Alyssa Lee, Deneil Betfarhad and Ethan Tober will be performing.

Reservations are recommended.

 

A scene from the 2018 Caroling Crawl.

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The Westport Farmers’ Market adds a special “Holiday Artists’ Market” a week from tomorrow (Saturday, December 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Lane). The market features a wide range of handcrafted gift ideas, from 25 local artists.

Carolers will entertain. Bubble & Brew will provide cold and hot beverages, plus sweet treats.  Chef Dan Kardos will bring his Oak & Oar food truck too. “Mark(et)” the date right now.

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Yesterday’s “Roundup” featured a Jeep smushing a traffic pylon on Main Street.

Today we feature a different scene, from almost the exact same spot:

After zipping past several prominent “One Way/Do Not Enter” signs, the driver continued the wrong way, refusing to back up or turn around — even when told to. (Had she looked around, she might have noticed every other car pointed in the other direction.)

The driver never stopped (or acknowledged reality). She just kept going, all the way to the Post Road.

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‘Tis the holiday season. So Westport Country Playhouse ends its 2022 Script in Hand series on December 12 with …

… “Bad Jews.”

Spoiler alert: It’s a comedy.

The night after their grandfather’s funeral, 3 cousins engage in a verbal (and sometimes physical) battle. There’s Daphna Feygenbaum, a “Real Jew” who is volatile, self-assured and unbending; her equally stubborn cousin Liam, a secular and entitled young man with a shiksa girlfriend Melody in tow, and Liam’s brother Jonah, who tries to stay out of the fray.

There’s live music at 6 p.m. in the lobby before the show. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Baby, it’s cold outside. But Misty shows off her fashionable winter coat, in today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

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And finally … Lucy Biggers tried to mock the Turkey Trot t-shirt, by channeling her inner Billy Joel (story above).

She failed miserably. Here’s how it’s done:

(You won’t get a souvenir t-shirt for supporting “06880” — just our eternal thanks. Hopefully, that’s enough. Please click here to donate.)

 

Remembering Walton Amey

Walton Amey — a multi-talented musician and athlete, and a 1971 Staples High School graduate — died suddenly on Sunday. He was 69.

His longtime friend, Grammy-winning musician and producer Brian Keane, writes:

Some friends in life are so close, for so long, that they become part of your own history. Walton Amey is such a friend for me.

Walton Amey, in the 1971 Staples High yearbook.

He was a top athlete, captain of the Coleytown Junior High football team where we played together, a talented singer in the elite Staples Orphenians (we sang together in a church choir too).

We made mischief together, partied together, played in the same rock ‘n’ roll band, and served on community projects together. Walton was also a theatrical star in Staples Players.

After high school, Walt attended college in Ithaca, New York with me, David Barton and Linda Satin (all from our Staples class). Walt and I were roommates as freshmen.

In Ithaca he and I played music professionally in coffeehouses and bars with our good friend Stephen Schneider. We were joined by our high school band drummer David Barton. We wrote and recorded some memorable original songs together. Walton was an engaging entertainer, and the life of any party.

After Stephen, David and I left in 1975 Walt brought in the guitarist from our high school band, Jeff Dowd, and had a very popular band called Desperado. They made several records together, before Jeff left to begin an opera career in Germany.

One of the band’s records. Walton hangs 2nd from right.

Walt continued playing music around upstate New York. He taught ballroom dancing at Cornell, developed a fondness for tennis, and lived a reclusive life in rural upstate New York for a time.

In 1993 one of our musicians threw a surprise 40th birthday party for former dormmates and band members in New York City. That morphed into an annual event, then into a yearly weekend gathering on Fire Island.

It was a Big Chill weekend: no spouses. We became like another family to each other over the years. Walton and Elizabeth Schenck started a wonderful relationship 14 years ago. They lived together in Syracuse, where Elizabeth practices as a public defender attorney.

I saw Walt and Elizabeth every year at the Fire Island reunions. Starting in 2020, my partner Bonnie (who was in theatrical productions with Walton at Staples) and I started meeting Walt, Elizabeth and a few others on 4th of July weekends.

The 2018 reunion. Walton Amey is standing, 2nd from right; Brian Keane is sitting, far left.

We gathered once again this year. We played games on the beach, watched fireworks, had great dinners, drank, played guitars and sang songs we had written, songs of our youth, and all kinds of fun songs in between.

We told jokes, shared stories, and had a wonderful time. Walton, Stephen and I watched Wimbledon past midnight, after everyone else went to bed. Walton made us sing 3-part harmonies to some Crosby, Stills & Nash tunes, which we obliged him to get him to go to bed. Walton was in his bliss.

Some time after we went to bed at 1 a.m., Walton got back up. We don’t know what happened, but he was discovered at the bottom of the stairs at 2:15.

EMS arrived 10 strong right away, and worked on him from 2:30, even getting a pulse back. But he lost that pulse on the way to the hospital.

The night before, we watched a spectacular sunset from the deck of the beach house. I had remarked how lucky we were to be alive to witness this. Walt agreed, and expressed his gratitude too.

Walton Amey and Elizabeth Scheck at Fire Island, the night before he died.

When we got confirmation that Walton had died, we knew we had lost an important part of our own lives. Our life histories had been so intertwined. We spent the rest of the day in a combination of shock, grief, and “producer mode” dealing with things.

On the morning of July 4th, we gave Walton the tribute he had told Elizabeth he wanted: a New Orleans-style funeral procession. Stephen and I led the way to the ferry. We played “When the Saints Go Marching In” on ukuleles. The rest of our group sang along, walking in the sand with umbrellas.

At first it was hard to keep from choking up. Then it transformed into something more joyful. A couple of people looked at us oddly, but we kept going. We all felt better by the time we got  to the ferry. The crowd there appreciated it, too.

Walton couldn’t have asked for a better death than having spent the weekend doing exactly what he loved, with people he loved, and who loved him, in one of his favorite places on earth — then having it all end unexpectedly, and rather instantly as far as I can tell.

Though many of us will feel pain, and the loss of Walton in our lives, we grieve for that which has been our heart’s delight. Walt made us all rich in life experience, for simply sharing part of this glorious ride called life with him. He was part of what made our lives fun. Personal grief is mixed with a deep sense of gratitude for that.

Walt is survived by his sister Meg Amey Smith of Des Moines, Iowa; his significant other, Elizabeth Schenck of Syracuse, New York, and the many of us who loved him and became like family with him.

No services have been determined at this time.

Roundup: Kowalsky Property, Orphenians, Fleet Feet …

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For months, Greens Farms residents have wondered: What’s going on at Morningside Drive South and Clapboard Hill Road

There’s been activity there, at one of the town’s largest still-undeveloped private tracts of land.

On January 5 (7:30 p.m., Zoom) the Flood & Erosion Control Board will hear an application on behalf of the owner — Kowalsky Family Company LLC — for a 6-lot subdivision. It will be reviewed for drainage and grading recommendations to the Planning & Zoning Commission. To attend the virtual meeting, click here.

Site of the proposed subdivision, at 109 Morningside Drive South. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)

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The latest COVID casualty: tomorrow’s Orphenians carol sing downtown.

The a cappella singers had invited alumni to join them, for this special event. The surge in local cases means waiting a year.

Orphenians director Luke Rosenberg wishes all Orphenians, past and present — and their countless fans — a happy, healthy holiday.

The Staples Orphenians sang downtown earlier this month, at the 06880″ Holiday Stroll.

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Despite the Orphenians’ cancellation, there’s a great reason to go downtown tomorrow (Thursday).

From 2 to 5 p.m. Staples High School’s OneWestport Club is holding a toy and coat drive, at the Bedford Square traffic circle on Elm Street.

All donations will go to the Person to Person network. They provide a free holiday store, where low-income families can shop for free gifts for their families. There’s been a huge demand this year, so OneWestport is offering a final push.

New and gently used coats (all sizes, but clean!), new board games, stuffed animals and picture books are great.

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Run — don’t walk — into 2022! Registration is open for Fleet Feet’s next training program

Starting Saturday, January 8 (8 a.m.), it’s a 12-week group effort, for runners of all abilities. From non-runners to those training for a big race: All are welcome.

There are Saturday 8 a.m., and Tuesday 5:30 p.m. sessions. Most runs start and end at the Sconset Square store (with an occasional track or trail run).

Fleet Feet offers a changing room/bathroom, secure storage of keys and valuables — and product discounts while enrolled in the program. Click here for more information, and registration.

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There are 3 shopping days left until Christmas.

Then — on Monday, December 27 — you can start again. MoCA Westport will host a pop-up shop event (9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.), in conjunction with the Winter Recess Art Camp at their 19 Newtown Turnpike campus.

The sale features luxury home accents and fashion accessories.

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Thanks to STAR board member Amanda King Heavey, her son Will and his classmates, every child served by the STAR Rubino Family Center’s early intervention pediatric therapy program will receive a handmade card and note, plus a book to enjoy during the holidays.

Entering its 70th year, STAR Lighting the Way  creates opportunities for people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live full, independent lives.

In the photo below, Will Heavey gives Westporter Parker Greenberg a book and card.

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Aitoro Appliance — just over the line in Norwalk — is many Westporters’ go-to for sales and service.

Now they need our help.

On Monday night at 3:30 a.m., 2 men wearing hoodies stole gas grills. The vehicle was a white Ford truck. Security cameras could not catch the license plate. Anyone with information can email info@aitoro.com.

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“Westport … Naturally” loves to show creatures of all kinds playing in Westport.

But no one has had more fun than this guy, spotted by Elisabeth Keane outside her home:

(Photo/Elisabeth Keane)

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And finally … Maurice and Robin Gibb were born on this day in 1949. With their older brother Barry, they formed the Bee Gees — one of the most popular British Invasion (and then disco) groups of all time.

Both died young: Maurice at 53 from a twisted intestine, and Robin at 62 from kidney failure.

Roundup: Vaccine Info, Christmas Carols, Stars On Stage …

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Connecticut has introduced its version of a “digital vaccine passport.” Residents who click on their COVID-19 vaccination records through the state immunization database, CT WiZ (click here), can then get a “SMART Health Card” to save on their smartphone photo roll, or in an app like the iPhone Wallet.

The “card” includes a QR code that uses the same standard as New York, California and Canada.

The “vaccine passport” is optional and voluntary, officials note. Click here for a full Westport News story.

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This is the busiest time of year for Staples’ Orphenians.

The elite high school a cappella group has spent weeks singing holiday music. They visit civic clubs, elderly residents and Christmas tree lightings. Earlier this month, they entertained a large crowd at the “06880” Stroll.

They return downtown on Thursday, with a twist: alumni.

Former Orphenians are invited to join current members for an hour-long meander along Main Street and environs.

The group gathers shortly before 6:30 p.m. this Thursday (December 23), near the entrance to Starbucks in Parker Harding Plaza.

Groupies are welcome to tag along and listen, too.

The Orphenians entertained at this month’s Town Hall holiday tree lighting. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Due to COVID concerns, tonight’s Westport Astronomical Society lecture by Harvard professor Avi Loeb, titled “Extraterrestrial Life: Are We the Sharpest Cookies in the Jar?” will be virtual only.

To access the 8 p.m. event by Zoom, click here. For the YouTube livestream, click here. For the WAS’ YouTube channel, click here.

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It’s Christmas Day. You’ve opened the presents, put all the stuff that needs assembling together, and gone to CVS for batteries. You’ve had lunch, and an egg nog or two.

What’s left?

At 3:06 p.m. — that’s right, just after the news — tune in to WSHU-FM. Westport Country Playhouse Radio Theater reprises last year’s clever audio play, “A Merry Little Christmas Carol.”

Missed it on Christmas? Tune in the next day — Sunday, December 26, also 3:06 p.m. — for a rebroadcast.

Pro tip: You don’t have to listen on radio. “A Merry Little Christmas Carol” is  available now through January 2 at the Playhouse website — click here.

“A Merry Little Christmas Carol” is written and directed by Mark Shanahan, adapted from his play of the same name, and based on “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Shanahan is curator of Playhouse Radio Theater, and also curates the Playhouse Script in Hand playreading series.

“With the remarkable Paxton Whitehead as Scrooge, Dickens’ masterpiece charges us to recall that we are all responsible for the wellbeing of our brothers and sisters—an idea which rings true now more than ever,” Shanahan says.

“Our merry little audio play invites those who cannot be with us in person at the theater to close their eyes and imagine they are once again nestled into their cozy red seats at the Playhouse, experiencing a remarkable story filled with laughter, tears, and holiday cheer.”

Bah humbug!

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Speaking of the Playhouse: A promo is out for next month’s PBS specials: “Stars on Stage from Westport Country Playhouse.”

The shows — set for 3 consecutive Fridays (January 7, 14 and 21, all at 9 p.m.), featuring Broadway stars Gavin Creel, Shoshana Bean and Brandon Victor Dixon — will put our historic theater squarely in the national spotlight.

They were filmed in September, before live audiences.

Here’s a screenshot from the promo

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David Ader shot today’s “Westport … Naturally” image.

(Photo/David Ader)

He explains: “Turin has its shroud. On Woodside Avenue, we have the bird.

“These photos are of a haunting outline of a bird on a picture window, a good 20 feet off the ground. I noticed this and thought it was the lingering remains of something my kids had put up years before, but it wasn’t a sticker’s residual on the inside.

“I suspect this was from a bird that smashed into the window and left, somehow, this image. I ran outside to see if a dead or stunned bird lay below on the driveway, but there was nothing, not even a feather.

“I’d like to believe it’s a sign of something — perhaps an angel’s wings, or a symbol of peace?

“Or, worst case, that we’re all flying straight into a wall!”

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And finally … on this day in 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — the world’s first full-length animated feature film — premieres at the Carthay Circle Theatre. in Los Angeles.

As the clip below shows, the film — and song — definitely stand the of time.

Friday Flashback #273

Some things have changed since the 1980s.

Klein’s and the Camera Store are no longer on Main Street. George Weigle passed along the pitch pipe as Orphenians director. In a pandemic-ravaged world, the Orphs are not raising funds for a European concert tour.

But many things remains the same.

Downtown looks much as it did 4 decades ago. Luke Rosenberg has continued Staples High School’s elite singing group’s 60-year tradition of excellence.

And a week from tomorrow — on Saturday, December 11 — the Orphenians will once again carol on Main Street.

They’re part of “06880”‘s first-ever Christmas Stroll. The Orphs will be joined by Santa. Merchants will offer treats and specials. Don Memo (which is located in what was, when this photo was taken, Westport’s original Town Hall) will provide hot drinks.

See you there!

(Click here for details of the “06880” Christmas stroll. And if you recognize yourself in the Orphenians’ photo — or have any memories of caroling with them downtown, or traveling with them abroad — click “Comments” below.)