Tag Archives: Tauck

Roundup: RTM & Hiawatha, Sherwood Island, VFW …

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Start time for the Representative Town Meeting’s special June 8 (Tuesday) meeting to reconsider the Planning & Zoning’s adoption of a new zoning district that would enable a 157-unit development on Hiawatha Lane has been pushed ahead to 7 p.m.

However, the RTM will not address the petition until 7:30 p.m.

The meeting will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and shown on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. To attend by video, send an email to RTMcomments@westportct.gov; include your name and address, to receive participation details.

Emails may be sent before the meeting to RTMmailinglist@westportct.gov; this goes to all RTM members.

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It’s called “CT Trails Day.” But Friends of Sherwood Island are actually sponsoring two days — today and tomorrow — of activities at Connecticut’s first state park.

Today, there’s a Wonder of Flight Interactive Air Show (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), featuring radio-controlled model planes, helicopters, gliders and drones, followed by a Butterfly Walk with Michele Sorenson (2 p.m.; meet at the Nature Center).

Tomorrow (Sunday), Louis Petig leads a Nature Walk at 1 p.m. along the Sound. It begins at the Nature Center, and includes birding locations, the Connecticut 9/11 memorial, model aircraft airport, trailheads, wetlands and a pine forest.

Questions? contact Cece Saunders: cece@historicalperspective.org; 203-984-1488.

Sherwood Island — a state park in the heart of Westport’s shore. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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At last: There’s smooth sailing — well, driving — to the beach.

Just in time for this weekend’s 90-degree weather, Hillspoint Road has been repaved. Residents and beach-goers have been frustrated for weeks, after Aquarion’s work left the street rough and rutted.

Striping should begin next week, weather permitting.

RTM member Andrew Colabella credits teamwork with 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich, RTM colleague Chris Tait, Joey’s by the Shore owner Hal Kravitz and resident Robin Tauck for helping move the project along.

(Photo/Chris Tait)

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Speaking of Tauck: The upscale guided tour and cruise company — based now in Wilton, but for many years a Westport operation, where many family members still live — will resume tour and river cruise operations in Europe, Africa and central America, beginning this month.

Some North America tours have already begun. Click here for details.

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To celebrate National Garden Week, the Westport Garden Club decorated the 4 “bumpouts” on Main Street. The plantings also celebrate the club’s #FridayFlowers campaign.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)

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Two new merchants have joined the Pride parade.

Throughout June, Sweet P’s Bakery/The Porch @ Christie’s will donate 20% of the proceeds from Pride cookies, trays and packages to Westport Pride, our LGBTQ community organization.

Pam’s James is contributing 10% of the sales of Pride Trio jams.

Click here for a full list of vendors participating in this summer’s “Merchants of Pride” program.

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A limited audience saw Staples High’s first live musical performance of the school year last night.

Thunderstorms moved the first of 2 Pops Concerts was moved from the Levitt Pavilion to the auditorium. After a year of COVID, that hardly mattered.

A variety of choruses, orchestras and the freshman band entertained the socially distanced — but very grateful — crowd. Despite the masks, it was a sure sign that the district’s superb staff had shepherded through a very difficult year.

And that music makes us all truly alive.

The 2nd night of the Pops Concert — with other groups — is scheduled for tonight. All tickets have already been distributed.

Luke Rosenberg directs the Anima Cantorum.

Staples High School music instructors (from left): Luke Rosenberg, Candida Inanaco, Phil Giampietro, Carrie Mascaro, Jeri Muehleise. Innaco retires this year, after 36 years of teaching. (Photos/Dan Woog)

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The Artists’ Collective celebrates Westport’s return to actual, live activities with 2 big events.

A pop-up art show opens in the Westport Country Playhouse barn June 12. It runs from 2 to 6 p.m. every day, through June 19. An artist’s talk on closing day begins at 4 p.m.

Participating artists include local favorites Lucienne Buckner, Miggs Burroughs, Elizabeth DeVoll, Charles Douthat, Susan Fehlinger, Noah Fox, Jen Greely, Toby Michaels, Nancy Moore, Mary Ann Neilson, Melissa Newman, Diane Pollack, Ellen Schiffman and Jahmane West.

The Collective’s very popular trunk show returns in the Westport Library’s lower parking lot: July 11 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

What is the Artists’ Collective of Westport? Click below to learn more.

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The return to indoor events came too late for the Westport Country Playhouse to stage its full summer productions.

But the venerable theater welcomes a series of special events, to support next year’s full reopening.

“Cabaret in the Robards” is 3 evenings of shows featuring Broadway talent, with music, song and comedy.

The first one — June 26 — is “An Evening with Brad Simmons and Tonya Pinkins.” She’s a Tony-winning Broadway veteran; he’s a famed music director and concert artist. They’ll combine for show favorites, contemporary covers, classics and more.

Click here for tickets and more information.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features horseshoe crabs. They’re back. I am told that prime time — figuring in the tide, moon, mating season and more — is June 24.

(Photo/Gene Borio)

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And finally … today, Westport celebrates Pride Day, with a 10 a.m. to noon festival at Jesup Green. Hit it, Diana!

 

Robin Tauck Reports On Syrian Refugees

The Tauck family is known for many things. Their eponymous company — now in its 4th generation — pioneered high-end group travel, heli-skiing and small-boat river cruises. In Westport — where many family members live — they’ve been quite generous, from renovating National Hall to helping preserve Long Island Sound. A foundation is deeply involved in aiding Bridgeport.

Robin Tauck is a travel industry leader. Her interests range from eco-tourism to helping nations and regions use travel as an economic engine.

She’s nearing the end of a 50-day odyssey in Italy and Greece. With her proximity to Turkey, Syria and the Middle East, she got a first-hand look at the mass migration of refugees seeking asylum in Europe.

Two of the many children in a Lesbos Island refugee camp.

Two of the many children in a Lesbos Island refugee camp.

On Lesbos Island, Robin — an outgoing woman who loves to learn — talked to as many people as she could: refugees, Save the Children workers, and the Lesbos mayor who, she says, “deserves a peace prize.”

Greece has already moved almost a million people from that tiny island just 6 miles off Turkey, through Athens, and on into Europe. Only 4,000 refugees remain.

Little cafes did their best to feed and warm the new arrivals. The island is lovely, Robin says, “but the people are even more beautiful. You cannot imagine how much they did.”

At the height of the smuggling operation, nearly 10,000 people a day arrived in crammed Zodiacs. (By contrast, Ellis Island — set up as an immigration center — handled 11,000 a day at its peak.) Save the Children — which moved its headquarters recently from Westport to Fairfield — now has 10 small offices in the area.

A hand-made sign thanks the many volunteers.

A hand-made sign thanks the many volunteers.

Hundreds of unaccompanied minor children were separated from parents. The kids are traumatized — and not allowed to leave the island yet.

Save the Children is focusing on them. Robin’s new friend Vasili Sofiadellis is teaching computer and coding skills. Youngsters learn English and Greek too.

“It’s not bad. But it’s not pretty,” Robin says.

A pregnant mother survived the trip to Greece. Robin Tauck holds her 7-month-old -- who weighs only as much as a normal 2-month-old.

A pregnant mother survived the trip to Greece. Robin Tauck holds her 7-month-old — who weighs only as much as a normal 2-month-old.

The island is in the midst of cleanup. Broken boats, and enormous piles of hundreds and thousands of life jackets — “each one a life story,” she notes — are being moved from the beaches.

Robin Tauck (right) surveys some of the hundreds of thousands of abandoned life jackets.

Robin Tauck (right) surveys some of the hundreds of thousands of abandoned life jackets.

Robin also reports that Westporter Barbara Innamorati brought toys from Westport to Italy. They were delivered to a refugee camp on Lesbos, housing 880 people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Robin explains that Lesbos is ready to move from the “R” word (refugees) to the “T” word (tourism). Hotels are vacant; charter aircraft have stopped arriving. Holland America docked one cruise line during the crisis.

Robin told the mayor the Tauck story — including how her family emigrated to the US through Ellis Island. He said, “maybe one day some of our 800,000 refugees that made it to Europe will start a new family and new story, like yours did.”

“God bless the Greeks,” Robin says. Lesbos, and the entire country — one of the world’s top 10 tourist destinations, with dozens of World Heritage Sites, beautiful island and warm hospitality — is “waiting for us to return.”

(Yesterday’s New York Times Travel section also covered the tourist scene on Lesbos, and the rest of Greece. Click here to read that story.)

Happy 90th, Tauck!

Exactly 90 years ago this month, Arthur Tauck Sr. rented a Studebaker. He brought 6 strangers on a 1,100-mile sales trip through the Berkshires, Adirondacks and Catskills. (He was selling his invention: a coin tray for banks that’s still used today. That’s a whole other story.)

It was the 1st “escorted motor tour” in history. That month, a new industry was born.

The first-ever Tauck tour.

The first-ever Tauck tour.

“Tauck Tours” soon expanded. Arthur Sr. ran motor coach trips to the Poconos, Nova Scotia, Virginia, Niagara Falls and Ontario.

The young company used guts and creativity to weather the Depression. They launched a special tour to the 1933 Chicago Exposition, then added a Florida cruise and Gaspé Peninsula trip.

Big ads for new tours ran in East Coast newspapers on a fateful Sunday: December 7, 1941. World War II ended those plans, but in 1947 Tauck Tours roared back.

Arthur Tauck Jr.

Arthur Tauck Jr.

Arthur Tauck Jr. took the helm in 1958. Soon, the company won a key legal battle in the Supreme Court. The coast was clear for private air charter services — and once again, Tauck Tours led the way.

In the 1960s, Tauck expanded westward. They won the right to host guests at National Parks hotels; linked the Canadian Rockies to the West Coast by motor coach; added Hawaii itineraries, and introduced helicopter sightseeing.

The Wilton Road headquarters.

The Wilton Road headquarters.

In the 1970s, the company moved its headquarters from New York City to Westport. The first tiny office on Wilton Road, across from Save the Children, grew several times. They added space at the Vigilant Firehouse (now Neat) across the street; the Mews office complex across from Compo Shopping Center, then consolidated everyone on Post Road West.

During the ’80s, when the classic “Fall Foliage” tours were done, tour directors came to Arthur Jr.’s and other family members’ Westport houses to unwind and debrief. For 5 straight weeks, this town was Tauck Tours’ home away from home.

As the 3rd generation — Peter, Robin and Chuck — emerged as leaders, Tauck Tours went global. There were “Yellow Roads of Europe” tours; small ship and European riverboat cruises, and land tours in the South Pacific, Central America, China and Southeast Asia.

The Tauck family also spearheaded the restoration of the Inn at National Hall — and donated the old-fashioned streetlights lining the nearby Post Road bridge.

The 2nd and 3rd Tauck generations (from left): Peter, Chuck, Robin, Ronnie and her husband Arthur Jr., Liz. Most live (or have lived) in Westport. Missing: Kiki.

The 2nd and 3rd Tauck generations (from left): Peter, Chuck, Robin, Ronnie and her husband Arthur Jr., Liz. Most live (or have lived) in Westport. Missing: Kiki.

Moving just across the Norwalk border to the Norden complex, Tauck continued to grow and innovate. Trips with a service component; one-of-a-kind special events; intergenerational tours; tie-ins with Ken Burns and BBC Earth, plus new itineraries in Africa, India, South America, Antarctica (soon: Cuba) — all beckon younger, adventure-oriented travelers.

Tauck has done it without losing the personal touch of that first Studebaker tour. The number of repeat guests is the envy of the industry. Recently, the company was named one of the best places in Connecticut to work.

Tauck logo

Tauck celebrates 90 years today, with a company-wide party.

They’ve also flown in 20 former tour directors — folks who remember the New England touring days, and parties here — for a gala get-together tomorrow. It’s at Arthur Jr.’s house, of course — not far from where Robin and Chuck live.

Tauck hosts hundreds of thousands of guests, and boasts 500 employees. But it’s still a family business.

And its heart is still in Westport.

BONUS FEATURE: Click below to see Arthur Tauck Jr. talk about the founding of the company: