Customers with project-related questions can contact Art Bradshaw, Aquarion’s Project Manager, at (203) 337-5851. For service or water-related issues, please contact Aquarion Customer Service at 1-800-732-9678.
At first glance, this looks like a typical bucolic scene at Nyala Farm (aka one of Bridgewater’s 2 Westport headquarters).
But look closely. In the center of the photo — just to the left of the clump of trees — sit a grandstand and water slide.
Nearby — out of the picture — were 4 pool water trucks.
We know the world’s largest hedge fund does things differently.
But we’d sure love to know the back story to this one.
And finally … Ray Edenton died last week in Tennessee. He was 95.
You probably don’t know his name. But he was a session guitarist who played on thousands of recordings, by artists like the Everly Brothers, Charley Pride, Neil Young and Patsy Cline.
The New York Times said: “A longtime member of Nashville’s so-called A-Team of first-call studio professionals, Mr. Edenton contributed discreet, empathetic rhythm guitar to myriad hits in a career that spanned four decades.” Click here for a full obituary.
Former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe moderated the discussion. Asked about affordable housing, the Democratic incumbent said that local communities need to take the lead.
Traffic is a problem in the state, Lamont said — and entrance/exit ramps on highways are the source of the greatest congestion. He also noted that train bridges were not build for high-speed rail traffic, and cause slowdowns.
With unemployment very low in Connecticut, Lamont said there is a job for everyone who wants one. Though recession headwinds are ahead, he said, the state is in good shape.
The governor also noted that Connecticut has the largest unfunded pension debt in the country. However, he said, his administration has reduced interest debt, saving $400 million in interest payments.
Lamont also recalled that he met his wife Annie in Westport. (Reporting by Dave Matlow)
Governor Ned Lamont and former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, at yesterday’s Y’s Men event at the Westport Library. (Photo/Dave Matlow)
Dozens of rescue vehicles — helicopters, tanks, ambulances, you name it — converged on Sherwood Island State Park yesterday.
Fortunately, it was just a drill.
Local and regional authorities and incident management teams shared knowledge, and demonstrated technology for Connecticut politicians and other services. The event was organized by the state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, for the 14-town area.
!st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Deputy Fire Chief Nick Marsan represented Westport.
Among the activities:
This bomb squad robot has X-ray vision, and can shoot projectiles.
Pumpkin spice lattes and muffins have been here since around Independence Day.
Now it’s time for “Fall Pumpkin Centerpieces.”
That’s the title of a session at Wakeman Town Farm (October 4, 6:30 p.m.). Chryse Terrill will instruct attendees on how to create a fall harvest centerpiece inside a pumpkin. Some materials will be harvested from WTF’s gardens.
Of course, everyone can take home their work of art. Click here to register.
Former Westporter Ellen Wisser died Friday in Norwalk. She was 92.
The Brooklyn native attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts with classmates and friends Grace Kelly and Vince Edwards. At Brooklyn College she met her future husband and lifetime love, Allen Wisser, who had already performed with the Broadway show “Showboat”‘s national tour.
After they married Ellen taught at James Madison High School in Brooklyn.
Ellen and Allen moved their young family to Westport in 1960. Ellen continued commuting to Brooklyn, then began teaching English, speech and drama at Harding High School in Bridgeport. She also produced and directed the annual school play, influencing the lives of many teachers and students, who continued to stay in touch for decades.
Ellen was active in the Bridgeport, Connecticut and National Educational Associations. She ran for the NEA presidency in 1976. She was an advocate of the women’s liberation movement at the local and national levels.
Ellen changed careers in her 50’s, attending Bridgeport Law (now the Quinnipiac School of Law). She then practiced family and worker’s compensation law until age 88. Ellen recently survived 3 different types of cancer, forcing her retirement, and defeated unbeatable odds.
She was predeceased by her husband, grandson Tyler Wisser and brother Marvin Borenstein. She is survived by her children, Dr. Jamie R. Wisser (Natalie), Kerry M. Wisser (Debbie), R. Ilise Gold (Fritz Heilbron); grandchildren Davin Gold, Alanna Dayton, Evan Wisser, Caitlyn Wisser, Ryan Wisser; great grandchildren Jack, Sam and Beck Dayton, Claire and Penelope Wisser; sister-in-law Gladys Floch, many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Funeral services will be held today (Tuesday, September 20, 1 p.m., Abraham L. Green & Son Funeral Home, Fairfield), with interment following at Temple Israel Cemetery in Norwalk.
Roger Ratchford died earlier this month, at 88. He was a teacher, golf coach, and advocate for people with disabilities.
The Norwalk native was raised mostly by his mother, with the help of the large Hungarian side of his family. Though she died when he was 13, Roger went on to become valedictorian of his class at Fairfield Prep. To supplement a tuition scholarship to the College of the Holy Cross, he worked afternoon shifts at Worcester Quilting Company.
After graduating he returned to Prep to teach Latin, classical Greek, French and English, and coach the golf team for 40 years. He was inducted into the Prep Athletic Hall of Fame, was named National High School Golf Coach of the Year, and held a national record for wins.
Roger was also one of the first to bring American high school students to the French Alps for homestays with French families. He strongly felt that immersion was the best way to master a language.
Until the end of his life, heh could recite by memory passages from Homer’s “Odyssey” — in the original Greek. He was proud of his work helping the nuns at the Convent of St. Birgitta in the proper pronunciation of Latin chants.
But Roger felt his greatest legacy was improving opportunities for people with disabilities. Inspired by his son Mike, he and his wife Gail became actively involved in the growth of STAR, Inc.
He lobbied for the closure of Mansfield Training Center in 1993, and advocated for a shift to group homes and the full integration of people with disabilities into the community. Two-time president of STAR, he was named Volunteer of the Year by the ARC of CT in 1988.
He was a walking encyclopedia of Norwalk history, and was proud of the Ratchfords’ long legacy in this town, from the Ratchford Hotel & Saloon in the first part of the 20th century, to his Aunt Helen’s tenure as a teacher at Norwalk High.
Roger was predeceased by his wife. He is survived by 3 children and 1 grandchild. His family is indebted to Dorrean, Sharon Mack, and her staff for their loving care during hospice.
A funeral mass will be held on Thursday (September 22, 2 pm, St. Mary’s Church, Norwalk. A Celebration of Life will be held at Fairfield Prep some time in October. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to STAR Lighting the Way.
Meanwhile, around the corner, 44 Compo Mill Cove — the 1910 home standing closest to Old Mill Beach, and possibly the most photographed house in Westport — has sold.
It and its companion, a newer cottage at #42, were marketed together. The closing price of $5.29 million was the same as the asking price. The new owners are longtime Westporters and Staples High School graduates Lance and Ann Lonergan.
Young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities are invited to a STAR dance party. It’s set for this Friday (July 15, 7 to 9 p.m., STAR headquarters, 182 Wolfpit Road, Norwalk).
Snacks and drinks are provided. There is a separate lounge area for parents and caregivers to meet and socialize, if they wish to remain while allowing the young adults to enjoy supervised independence on the dance floor.
The cost is $25 per person. There is complimentary entry for siblings and peer dance buddy volunteers.
Advance registration is required; click here. NOTE: Anyone ages 15-22 can volunteer as a peer buddy, with or without a sibling or past involvement with STAR.
Just before COVID struck, John Németh highlighted a Supper & Soul concert at the Westport Library. It was one of the best, in the long-running series.
The musician has had some setbacks since then. He writes:
“I have a new album. I recorded it before my jaw amputation. It’s called ‘Maybe The Last Time,’ cause I didn’t know then and I still don’t know now if I will ever sing or play again like I used to. I have to say the magic of this performance is beyond this world and maybe the greatest of my life.
“I am asking for a little help from. Please pre-order this CD or digital download. I am currently not working and have some staggering bills. The legendary blues guitarist and pop icon Elvin Bishop (‘Fooled Around And Fell In Love’) and famed producer Kid Andersen wanted to cut an album for me before my surgery, knowing it could be the last time we ever make music again.
“You will receive immediately upon ordering the first single ‘Maybe The Last Time.’ I will email or mail the full record to you by September 16. This is your order link.
“My surgery has been a success so far. I still do not have feeling in my jaw or lower lip. I hope and pray that someday I will get back to 110 percent. Thank you for enjoying my music and performances.” (Hat tip: Michael Wolfe)
Yesterday’s Westport Rotary Club luncheon meeting included an inspiring talk by Vince Santilli.
The CEO of Bridgeport-based Homes for the Brave told members and guests at Greens Farms Congregational Church about the organization’s success sheltering people in need — especially veterans — in Bridgeport and West Haven. HFTB also provides case management, vocational guidance and housing assistance for homeless vets. The non-profit received a Westport Rotary Club Community Grant this year.
Vince Santilli addresses the Westport Rotary Club. (Photo/Dave Matlow)
It’s a tight turn, coming out from the Compo Shopping Center back lot. You squeeze past the Verizon store, stop (maybe), and if you’re going to turn left into the front lot, you face plenty of traffic.
What you, I or anyone else — except this extremely entitled driver — don’t do is to make the sharp turn even sharper, then hog 3 spaces directly in front of one store.
We may think we’ve seen everything, parking-wise. Then this driver reminds us we haven’t.
PS: Yes, that’s a handicap sticker hanging from the rear view mirror. With 3 empty spaces right in front, that does not excuse this parking job.
Longtime and much-loved Westport PAL coach Scott Turkel died yesterday. He was 64, and suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia.
A graduate of American University, Scott spent the early part of his career as an equity trader at Goldman Sachs and Lehman Bros. He then launched his own hedge fund, TCM Partners. Scott spent the latter part of his career working at Turkel Investments, where he made private investments and served as a management consultant to many businesses.
While he enjoyed helping investors and businesses achieve their goals, Scott most loved helping others and serving as a mentor to many in his community. Exceptionally philanthropic, he contributed generously to charities and causes, including the Samara Jan Turkel Clinical Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, created in memory of his late daughter.
He also made lasting impacts as a longtime coach for the Westport PAL football program. Scott kept in touch with his players through the years, and developed close relationships with many of them and their families.
Scott is survived by his sons Max, Bryan and Spencer, and his soulmate of nearly 8 years, Alyssa Rapko.
Scott’s service will be held tomorrow (Thursday, July 14, 11 a.m., Beth Israel Chabad of Norwalk 40 King Street). The family will sit shiva on Thursday (5 p.m.), Friday (4 to 6 p.m.), Saturday (7 to 9 p.m.) and Sunday (4 to 7 p.m.) at 27 White Birch Road, Weston.
Former Westporter Luigi Scaramuzzo died Sunday. He was 87.
Before immigrating from Italy to the United States, Luigi helped build Alps tunnels between Switzerland, France and Italy. Here, he worked for many years at Pepperidge Farm as a shipping clerk. He was an avid gardener and fisherman.
Survivors include his son Nicola of Norwalk, daughter Anna of Norwalk, and brother Pietro of Italy. Luigi was predeceased by his wife Teresa Scirocco-Scaramuzzo, brothers Giuseppe and Michele Scaramuzzo, and sister Giuseppina.
Tomorrow (Thursday, July 14, 10 a.m., Assumption Church) there is a Mass of Christian Burial. Entombment will follow in Willowbrook Cemetery. Condolences may be left online. Contributions in Luigi’s memory may to the National Alliance on Mental Illness,
John Prenderville Jr. writes:
“Locals are discussing the number of chicks in the osprey nest at Burying Hill Beach.
“These pictures say 2. I don’t think there are 3, but I thought there was only 1. So what do I know?!”
Here’s what I know: John’s photo is a fantastic addition to our daily “Westport … Naturally” series.
After a 2-year COVID hiatus, Walk & Roll for STAR — a family “FUNdraiser” with face painting, kids’ crafts, DJ, dancing, t-shirts, games, food and more — returns to Sherwood Island State Park this Sunday (May 1, 9 a.m. to noon).
It’s a benefit for STAR Lighting the Way, the great local organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.
Click here for more information, including how to register and start a team.
Of many great nonprofit evenings, A Better Chance of Westport’s Dream Event is one of the best.
Each year, graduating seniors from ABC — the program that brings wonderful young men to Westport, to attend Staples and give back to the community — are honored. Their speeches — and those of alumni — are inspirational.
The energy in the room is contagious. It’s a feel good time for everyone.
A few tickets remain for this year’s event (Friday, May 13, 6:30 p.m., Shorehaven Golf Club). The price includes entertainment, live and silent auctions, dinner and cocktails.
Click here for tickets, and donation and sponsorship information.
Westport women roar.
And no one helps them find their voice more than JoyRide.
On May 13 (5 p.m., 1200 Post Road East), the popular spinning and fitness center hosts “Westport Women Roar: Local Leaders Share Their Female Professional Paths.”
1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Granola Bar founders Dana Noorily and Julie Mountain, Party City chief marketing and experience officer Julie Roehm, Rebel & Rose Tattoo owner/artist Amanda Mas, and Westport Police officer Lt. Jillian Cabana will inspire women, with stories of blazing professional paths in male-dominated areas.
Tickets are $20. Venmo @joyridecycling, or click here.
Just a few days later (May 21, 11:30 a.m.), JoyRide sponsors an Out of the Darkness fundraiser, for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Donations are $25 and up. Click here to register.
And on June 4 (9:30 a.m.), JoyRide’s Mackenzie Pretty leads a HIIT + Strength class outdoors, at the Compo Beach Pavilion. It’s free, bur registration is needed: firstname.lastname@example.org,
MyTeamTriumph — the wonderful program pairing children, teens and adults with disabilities (“captains”) with volunteers (“angels”) who help them participate in triathlons and road races — has a busy schedule.
On Saturday, they participate in the Westport Young Woman’s League’s Minute Man 10K and 5K Runs, and 5K Walk.
On May 15 it’s the 25K (about 15 miles) Bloomin’ Metric bike ride at Sherwood Island State Park. Click here to sign up. For more information, email KZiebell@myTeamTriumph-CT.org, or call 203-216-1146.
Noted Westport landscape designer Jay Petrow leads Aspetuck Land Trust’s next “Lunch & Learn” session.
“Transforming Your Lawn Into a Meadow” (Friday, April 29, noon to 1:15 p.m., Zoom) will show you how to replace part of your lawn by planting or seeding a native meadow garden. You can introduce plants that are beneficial for pollinators and birds, are mostly deer-resistant, are more drought-tolerant than your lawn — and look beautiful.
JL Rocks is expanding its cult following of fine jewelry lovers to the younger set. Its new line of 14K gold and enamel earrings, bracelets and necklaces, called Rock Candy — get it? — offers a colorful range of options for kids ages 7 to 13.
Owner/founder Jamie Camche made the move after seeing so many new clients, with young children. They were particularly interested in earrings, so the gold and enamel studs take the form of emojis, ice cream cones and empowering statements like “Yes.” Necklaces and bracelets come in rainbow hues.
Click here to purchase and for more information, or check out Jamie’s 292 Post Road East or Greenwich stores.
Mila Grieb — well known locally for her 45 years as a realtor — died April 17.
Born in El Dorado, Arkansas, she considered herself to be from Shreveport, Louisiana where she spent most of her youth. She then lived in Weston and Westport for more than 65 years.
Mila worked at Helen Benson Associates for 15 years, before founding Mila Grieb Village Realty in 1984. The boutique agency succeeded due in part to her creative promotions and advertising. She sold it to Coldwell Banker after more than 15 years. “We were proud to have her on our team,” Coldwell said.
Her friends and associates in real estate industry called her “a class act … She was an amazing woman who achieved great success in a challenging business while still maintaining her grace, charm, kindness, humor, and integrity.”
Mila graduated from Northwestern University. She was a former Conover model and a stage actress. She and her husband Warren were co-presidents of the Weston PTO. They founded the Weston Memorial Day Fair, which continues today.
During the 1970s, she and Warren also owned and operated the Arnold Palmer Driving Range and Miniature Golf Course in Westport. Mila was a member of the First Church of Christ Scientist, Westport, CT.
Mila’s family calls her “a good friend, a fabulous mom, and a wonderful and supportive wife. She made a tremendous difference in the lives of those who knew her. She will be remembered for her outgoing personality, creativity, kindness, humor, wit, and deep love of family.”
Mila is survived by her daughters Nancy Joy (Evan) Wilsnack of Boynton Beach, Florida, Janet Adams-O’Keefe of Westport, and Wendy Grieb (Robert) Moore of Coronado, California; grandchildren Justin Hopfer of Los Angeles, Jarrod Hopfer of Bozeman, Montana, Christopher Wilsnack of Bentonville, Arkansas, Alisha Holden of Boynton Beach, Weston Moore of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Sarah Moore of Coronado, and 7 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The First Church of Christ Scientist Westport, 55 Compo Road South, Westport, CT 06880 or the Humane Society of Connecticut, 455 Post Road E, Westport, CT 06880. Mila will be remembered and celebrated privately by her family.
April is Autism Acceptance Month. The Westport Police Department will take the opportunity to promote both education, and a greater understanding of the spectrum.
Many officers have bought Autism Acceptance badges. They’ll wear them all month.
In addition, the rainbow-colored “infinity” symbol — donated by Fleet Auto Supply — will be attached to all police cars.
The department takes this opportunity to remind residents about Westport’s Disability Registry. Created by the WPD, Department of Human Services and Commission on People with Disabilities, it’s a confidential way to provide information that assists police and other emergency workers in addressing th needs of residents of all abilities. Click here for more information.
When Jersey Mike’s announced that more than 2,000 stores would support Special Olympics — by donating 100% of its sales on March 30 (yesterday) — Westporters Rick Levin, Bob Levy and Sunny Sherman decided to help.
The Post Road location is closed. But they bought hundreds of sandwiches in Norwalk, and donated them to STAR Lighting the Way of Norwalk, and Bridgeport’s Alpha Community Center and Cardinal Shehan Center.
Clients at the 3 centers were very grateful.
And extremely well fed.
Bob Levy (3rd from left), delivering Jersey Mike’s sandwiches yesterday to STAR Lighting the Way.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Kayak threats from Compo Beach — first reported on “06880” in July — continue.
Mousumi Ghosh is the latest victim. Her red Eddyline Equinox is gone from the storage area. She writes:
“We are devastated. It was one of the few recreations that we were able to enjoy as a family during the last year, not to mention the cost to replace it.
“I was away for a month for a family emergency. It could have happened any time during August.
“From speaking with others, I am discovering that this is not an isolated event. Many believe that crime is on the rise at the beach. Neither the police nor Parks & Rec are hopeful that the kayak can be recovered, or that there is much they can do to help.”
If anyone sees it (the rack emblem is #39), please call Westport Police. Meanwhile, another victim contacted “06880,” suggested security cameras. They’re installed elsewhere at the beach already. Perhaps it’s time to extend their range.
Kayak racks at Compo Beach. They look lovely — but they’re not secure. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)
Among Wednesday night’s Hurricane Ida flood victims: The Toy Post.
The store at 180 Post Road East (near Imperial Avenue) has no flood insurance. They’re offering 50% off anything wet. (Hat tip: Jonathan Alloy)
For many years, the small shop on Maple Avenue South was Mario & Mike’s barber. Then it became Bill’s. After that, Salon Juljen.
Now it’s vacant. A sign says they’ve moved to Southport. No word on whether a new hair place — or some other business — will move in to the mixed commercial-residential building. (Hat tip: Chris Grimm)
A grant from the Drew Friedman Arts Center will help them provide art classes to people with intellectual and developmental differences. The 6-week sessions cover a range of mediums — including photography, watercolor, acrylics, collage, dance, improvisation, acting and more — and engage local artists.
Some have already begun, at One River Art School in Westport.
Artists — including Drew Friedman Arts Center director Miggs Burroughs (far right) and STAR officials.
Starting November 1, Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department will offer winter boat storage at Longshore. Residents can store boats on their trailers in the gravel lot (Lot F) through April 15.
Space is available for 24 boats up to 24 feet (including trailer). Five more spaces are available, for boats with up to 32 feet. Rates are $720 plus tax for up to 24 feet, $960 for tax for the longer vessels..
Spots are first come, first served, for Westport residents only. For an application, email firstname.lastname@example.org. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)
A beautiful summer sight. But where will you store our boat this winter?
Speaking of sports: Leela Narang-Benaderet just made history. The 1988 Staples High School grad is the first Westporter to qualify for the US Senior Women’s Golf Open. She did it last week, with a 76 in the qualifier at Greenwich Country Club.
Over 400 golfers — most of them pros — competed internationally to earn a spot. Leela may have the easiest travel of all: The event will be hosted by Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield. Mark your calendars: July 29 to August 1. (Hat tip: Patty Kondub)
Vivek Kanthan is the US Rotax Max Challenge karting champion. The Westport 7th grader — who attends Pearson Online Academy, due to his travel schedule — won 7 of the 12 races in this year’s series. He will represent the US at the world championship in Bahrain later this year.
The final race was at New Jersey Motorsports Park last weekend. Sweltering heat, humidity and track temperatures of 103 degrees made the already exciting final round much more intense.
Karts reached speeds of 70 miles an hour. Vivek overcame a strong challenge to win, by just 0.08 seconds.
STAR Lighting the Way has received a $20,000 grant from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. The money will help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities find work, through STAR’s My First Jobs program.
STAR’s customized employment program for people with disabilities leads the state in job placements and hours worked. A team of job developers, employment managers and job coaches work with individuals, and networks with businesses, to create job opportunities, supervise training, and find locations to host classes in life, social, arts, and recreational skills.
And finally … today marks the 160th anniversary of the first major Civil War battle. The First Battle of Bull Run, near Manassas, Virginia, ended in a Confederate victory.
In 1990, Ric Burns’ astonishing 9-part PBS miniseries brought the war — in all its glory and greed, courage and cowardice, epic sweep and tiny details — into American homes. I watch it every few years, to try and understand this momentous event in our nation’s history.
Perhaps the most memorable segment of the entire series was Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife. Written a week before the First Battle of Bull Run, it provides viewers an astonishing combination of love, eloquence and historical perspective.
Jay Ungar’s haunting “Ashokan Farewell” — a heart-rending violin duet with Molly Mason — makes this the most impactful three minutes you may ever see and hear.
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Westport’s newest hot spot opened its doors yesterday.
And its porch.
From 6:30 a.m. till dark, The Porch at Christie’s was packed.
The Porch at Christie’s co-owner Bill Pecoriello, on the porch.
Neighbors, contractors, middle and high school kids, folks from across town — all headed to the Cross Highway bakery/café/ice cream stand.
They loved the breakfast specials, bowls, paninis, wraps and baked goods. They hung out on the porch (of course), and played cornhole on the grass.
But that’s only part of the story.
“We have 3 pillars: food, community and purpose,” says Bill Pecoriello, who with his wife Andrea own The Porch.
The food speaks for itself: high quality, affordable prices, everything from bagels and egg sandwiches to crumb cakes, cookies, freshly turkey and roast beef, flatbreads, farro and salmon teriyaki — plus “fun snacks” for kids, like hot pretzels with dipping sauce, pizza pops and Belgian-style waffles.
Not to mention great J. Foster ice cream.
The Porch ice cream stand.
The community part is important too. At a soft opening for nearby residents on Saturday, newcomers from New York met 50-year residents. When the Pecoriellos turned off the lights, people were still socializing on the (of course) porch.
“Commuters, teachers, students, landscapers — everyone is welcome. There’s something for everyone, 7 days a week,” Andrea says. “Hello Friend” signs and t-shirts are everywhere. Half the employees are Staples students.
But “purpose” may be the most important pillar.
The Porch is the Pecoriellos’ second venture into providing opportunities for those who often lack them. Inspired by their 3 children’s volunteer efforts while at Staples High School, they founded Sweet P Bakery. The Norwalk non-profit teaches baking skills to people with disabilities — then hires them.
The Porch purchases baked goods from Sweet P. (The muffins, cinnamon buns and more are made in Norwalk, but finished at the store. The aroma alone will sell dozens a day.)
The bakery features sweet items from Sweet P.
They have also hired a dozen people with physical and developmental disabilities. They work the counter, serve as greeters, and help in other capacities. They’re trained and supervised by an educator.
That’s not all. The Pecoriellos — whose Sweet P bakery has partnered with STAR on a baking class — hope to sell paintings and more, made by STAR clients. And they’ve talked with Westport Book Shop (which also employs people with disabilities) to paint unsold books as decorative items, sell them, and split the profits.
Speaking of paint: You won’t find a more pleasant place to work (or eat) (or hang). The interior of what was most recently Chef’s Table is bright and new. Staples grad Jess Spector painted a mural on the side of the building, where extra chairs invite even more sitting.
The fresh, new Porch interior. (Photos/Dan Woog)
It was hard to tell yesterday who smiled more: the customers, employees or owners.
The Pecoriellos have worked hard for nearly a year to make their vision come true. Andrea described it as the kind of place where, “if I was on vacation somewhere in New England and saw this, I’d say, ‘If this was in Westport, I’d support it every day.'”
They’ve created that vibe, for sure.
And they’ve done much more.
During the soft opening, a man with a special needs son stopped by. He’d moved to Westport for the school system’s opportunities.
Seeing people with special needs greeting customers, and serving them, he thanked the owners.
Then he said, “Today, I see a future for my son.”
PORCH SWINGS: The Porch at Christie’s is open weekdays 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ice cream stand (adjacent to the store) is open weekdays from 2 to 8 p.m., weekends noon to 8.
A weekend-only brunch menu features babka French toast, pancakes, scrambles and more.
Online ordering is coming soon, through the website (www.theporchatchristies.com). QR codes will be available outside for customers who are still uncomfortable indoors; orders will be brought out.
Westport filmmaker Doug Tirola made a documentary about Sweet P Bakery. It plays on a loop near the baked goods. Another film is in the works, about the long history of the store — founded in 1926 by Christie Masiello.
Andrea and Bill Pecoriello: the visionary Porch owners.
Excitement is building in the Staples High School auditorium. The curtain rises this Thursday (and Friday, and twice on Saturday) for the first Staples Players live production in 14 months.
David Ives’ “Words Words Words … and Music” is a truly funny series of mini-plays (with 2 mini-musicals to boot). But even though each audience is limited to only 300 seats, tickets remain.
It it because the show is unfamiliar? Perhaps there’s residual pandemic fear (click here to see the precautions taken). Maybe audiences have forgotten just how professional-quality Players’ acting and music are.
Whatever the reason: The program needs community support. For 63 years, that support has sustained Players, and allowed it to thrive,
Westport cherishes the high school acting troupe. But Westporters may not realize how important it is for all 300 tickets to sell out for each show (Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 20, 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m., and May 22 at 2 p.m.).
“Words Words Words … and Music” is laugh-out-loud funny — and very family-friendly. Young audiences, in fact, are the future of Players. They’ve missed a year of shows, so this is the perfect time to bring them back.
Click here for tickets and more information. See you at the show!
Sophie Rossman, Benny Zack and Samanath Webster in “Words Words Words.” Fully vaccinated actors will perform in clear visors. (Photo/Kerry Long)
Here’s the back story, courtesy of Erika Brunwasser:
“Few stop, many ‘pause,’ and a bunch fly through without even pausing.
“I have 2 little girls, ages 2 and 5. It’s scary and unacceptable. I called the police several times and asked about a flashing light, a speed bump and a sign to monitor speed. I’ve been told none of these are possible.
“They promised me that someone would monitor the area. This happened less a handful of times. The other day I sat in my front yard screaming at people, and realized I needed a better plan.
“I brought in the help of my next-door neighbor, artist Lilie Fortino (who was raised in Westport) to make a sign. We put it up Saturday evening. It made an immediate difference. Everyone has stopped (if only to glance at the beautiful sign — that’s fine with me). It worked.”
It shouldn’t take a sign and a stop sign to get drivers to stop roaring through residential neighborhoods (or anywhere else).
But if that’s what it takes — we’ll take it.
Lilie Fortino and her 1-year-old. Erika Brunwasser and her children. SLOW DOWN!
Speaking of yesterday’s Roundup: It also included mention that Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson would read The Sly Fox of the Mind — a children’s book by Westporters Brooke Olstein and Lee Scharfstein — on her YouTube channel, “Story Time with Fergie and Friends.”
Click below to watch. It’s a wonderful book — made even greater when read in the Queen’s English.
Speaking of books: Financial journalist and author Michael Lewis will be interviewed by noted former New York Times writer Lisa Belkin.
Lewis’s newest book, The Premonition: A Pandemic Story follows 3 main characters – a biochemist, public health worker and federal employee – as they confront COVID, and find that the response from the US government is woefully inadequate.
The event is June 15 (7 p.m.). Click here to register.
The Westport Woman’s Club’s 6th annual Art Show this Saturday and Sunday (May 22-23, 2 to 6 p.m.) features an all-star list of 14 area artists. They include Nina Bentley, Amy Bock, Trace Burroughs, Susan Fehlinger, Judith Orseck Katz, Tom Kretsch, Susan Leggitt, Kerry Long, Michael Ledner, Carole McClintock, Bernard Perry, Jon Puzzuoli, Katherine Ross and Jo Titsworth.
Plus light snacks and wine, of course. It would not be an art show without them.
Everyone at Staples High School knows Laura Blair. She runs the copy machine room, and is a tireless fan of Wreckers sports teams.
She’s also one of STAR’s greatest fundraiser. For years she has participated in the non-profit’s annual Sherwood Island walk. Funds help serve hundreds of area people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
This year’s STAR Walk is virtual. But Laura is working as hard as ever. So far her team has raised over $6,000 — more than half of her $12,000 goal.
“Stars” are just $1 each. Click here to help. To learn more about STAR Lighting the Way, click here.
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