Tag Archives: The Porch @ Christie’s

Roundup: StoryFest, Train Station, Puppies …

It’s almost here: StoryFest, the Westport Library’s genre-spanning literary festival (and the largest one in the state). Plus: It’s free!

StoryFest celebrates all forms of stories, and storytellers from across all media.

Among the highlights:

  • StoryFest Kick-Off: Isaac Fitzgerald in Conversation with Saeed Jones (Friday, September 9, 6 p.m. — click here to register)
  • Tessa Smith McGovern and Patricia Dunn launch their new podcast, “Go Ahead, Write Something” with bestselling author Naomi Novik  (Saturday, September 10, 4:30 p.m. — click here to register)
  • Raise a glass to StoryFest weekend with specialty cocktails. Mallory O’Meara (James Beard Book Award-winning author) and Brea Grant (filmmaker/actress) bring their podcast “Reading Glasses” to the Library stage, with guest stars: Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, Alexis Henderson and Clay McLeod Chapman (Saturday, September 10, 6 p.m. — click here to register).

Several authors authors are releasing new books early, for StoryFest. They include:

For the full StoryFest schedule, and more details, click here.

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It’s been nearly 30 months since the pandemic struck.

Westport — a town of commuters — changed immediately. Anyone who could work from home, did.

Metro-North slashed service. The railroad parking lots stayed empty. People who had waited for years for parking permits suddenly had them.

Offices re-opened slowly, often only 2 or 3 days a week. But many men and women — unwilling to sit next to others on trains where conductors did not enforce mask mandates — traded trains for cars.

Yesterday though, “06880” reader Ellen Bowen noticed something: The Westport train station’s eastbound lot was once again full. From Donut Crazy to the lower spots by Saugatuck Avenue, every spot was taken.

A sign that things are pretty much back to normal? A cause for celebration? Concern that the great experiment in working from home is ending?

Click “Comments,” to offer your take.

No spots — not even by Saugatuck Avenue. (Photo/Ellen Bowen)

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Aquarion has requested a revenue increase of $49.9 million — a 25% increase. If approved by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, it would add about $4.25 per month to the bill of a typical residential water customer using 72,000 gallons of water annually.

Public hearings will be held today (Thursday, September 8, 5:30 p.m., Town Hall), and Thursday, October 6  (via Zoom; click here) and Tuesday, October 25 (via Zoom; click here).

For more information, click here(Hat tip: Mark Lemcke)

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The Porch @ Christie’s is going to the dogs.

This Sunday (September 11, 10 a.m. to noon), the popular Cross Highway spot will be overrun by puppies.

Westport animal Shelter Advocates will bring a litter of 11, and other furry friends, including older dogs — all available for adoption.

There is no on-site adoption. But for those who follow up through WASA, Earth Animal is donating pup packs. (They’ve already provided nutritious puppy food.)

WASA will also hold a silent auction at the Porch, to raise funds to assist and advocate for neglected and homeless dogs. Featured items include a certified signed Aaron Judge baseball, and four VIP Yankee Stadium Legends seats for the September 24 Yankees-Red Sox game.

For more information, call 203-557-0361. or email wasa1@optonline.net.

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It’s a paradox: There are so many utility wires, we often don’t really notice them.

But Michael Brennecke does.

The native Westporter thinks there are too many. He cites this “particularly egregious example of wire pollution,” where Hillspoint Road and Prospect Road meet:

(Photo/Michael Brennecke)

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As the weather cools, the Joggers Club heats up.

The all-runners-welcome group once again sponsors Saturday morning events, starting at the Greens Farms train station at 8 a.m. The $50 yearly fee includes all paces, 2 new routes each week, free Brooks Endurance running shirts for all new members, unlimited post-run coffee, along with track nights and the Joggers Club Jr., for youngsters in grades kindergarten through 8th.

For more information, click here, or go to Instagram (@TheJoggersClub.CT),
Facebook or Strava for weekly courses and local running chatter.

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Speaking of sports:

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker honored Westport’s 11U Little League district all-star state champion team yesterday. Each player received a commendation for their “hard work and perseverance.”

Rear (from left):1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Nolan Walters, Wyatt Johnson, Justin Goldshore, Henry Ellis, Toby Slavin Jack McGrath, coach Jon Ellis, Dylan Burdeshaw, coach Marc Theisinger, manager Justin Walters Front: Torrey Rossetter, Chase Landgraf, Luke Moneyhon, Grant Theisinger, Miles Delorier, Christopher Lambert.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is a bit different than most.

Maggie Boroujerdi writes: “Tuesday’s much-needed rain revived our dry stream along Morningside Drive North and Keenes Road.

“We’re relatively new to the neighborhood. At the bus stop the other morning, neighbors said this is the first year they’ve seen the little stream dry up completely, for weeks. I took this photo:

(Photo/Maggie Boroujerdi)

“I’m grateful to have the water running again.”

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And finally … in honor of Sunday’s dog adoption event at The Porch @ Christie’s:

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(How much is that doggie in the window? No clue. But you can click here to support “06880.” Any amount is appreciated!)

Roundup: Wynston Browne, Water Conservation, 9/11 Memorial …

Wynston Brown continues to inspire us all.

The non-speaking autistic teenager was once thought to be intellectually disabled. In July, “06880” described his astonishing progress, since he began using a special communication board a year ago.

Earlier this month he met customers at The Porch @ Christie’s. He showed them his spelling device, and answered questions.

Wynston Browne with his spelling board.

Wynston was there again Monday — the day before beginning his sophomore year at Staples High School. Owner Andrea Pecoriello hosted him.

His mother Lynda Kommel-Browne says: “Wynston had a nice conversation with 4 families, who were not familiar with non-speakers and spelling boards. Wynston beamed with pride and energy to show folks his communication skills. It was a great eye-opening experience for all.

Wynston Browne and his communication partner, Elisa Feinman, show his spelling board to customers at The Porch. His brother Harrison is standing (right).

“Wynston’s 16-year-old brother Harrison beamed with pride too, seeing customers take an interest in Wyn, and seeing Wyn respond to questions with high level answers.

“For example, he said, ‘In biology we are studying macro molecules …  carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Carbohydrates is your body’s main energy source.'”

He talked about “The Kite Runner” too — and asked some of his new friends questions like what they like to eat at The Porch.

Wynston’s world is opening up — and he is opening up ours. “06880” will continue to report on his progress, and on opportunities for Westporters to meet him.

Wynston Browne, with younger customers.

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Following up on yesterday’s water conservation measures, a reader writes:

“We use the ‘speed load’ setting. Our washing machine runs for 25 minutes, instead of an hour and 10 minutes on the regular setting. Our clothes get just as clean — we have never had an issue with that.”

Any other water-saving ideas? Click “Comments” below.

Select “quick wash,” which you probably never noticed before.

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Connecticut’s official 9/11 memorial is at Sherwood Island State Park for 2 reasons.

On that horrific day 21 years ago, people gathered on the shore saw smoke rise from the Twin Towers 50 miles away.

And the area was ready to be used as a staging area for rescue helicopters. Sadly, none were needed.

Two decades later, the simple memorial attracts a steady stream of visitors. It includes the names of state residents who died in the terrorist attacks.

Each year, there is a remembrance ceremony at the Sherwood Island Living Memorial. This year’s is set for Thursday, September 8 (5:30 p.m.). Family members of those killed will participate, and the names of the 161 victims with ties to Connecticut will be read aloud.

The ceremony will be livestreamed at ct-n.com. An on-demand video will be made available there shortly after its conclusion.

The 9/11 Living Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park. (Photos/Ellen Bowen)

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Tomorrow’s “Jazz at the Post” stars Rob Henke & the Cook County Stompers.

Greg Murphy, Tim Ferguson, Sipho Kunene and Greg Wall — the “Jazz Rabbi” — play 2 sets at VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 (7 and 8:30 p.m.; dinner at 6:30; $10 cover).

The Thursday night series has earned an avid following. The jazz is great; the acoustics are superb; the food is excellent, and the view is superb.

What’s not to like?

Reservations are strongly suggested: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Cook County Stompers

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If you haven’t been to an Artists Collective of Westport pop-up show: Pop in to the next one.

Held, as always, in the Westport Country Playhouse barn, it features works by homeless veterans. The art was created in classes run by the Collective, at Bridgeport’s Homes for the Brave shelter.

There’s a reception next Wednesday (September 7, 6 to 8 p.m.), and an artists’ talk Saturday, September 10 (4 p.m.). The works are on display to the public September 8 to 10, from 2 to 6 p.m. each day.

The Artists’ Collective does great work, very quietly. They don’t toot their own horns. So I’ll toot it for them.

See you at the show!

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I hate to keep throwing barbs at Hook’d.

But really, the Compo Beach concession is just mailing it in.

Earlier this summer, after sharp comments on “06880,” they finally began posting their hours on the door.

That’s gone now.

With the doors locked yesterday, this was the scene:

(Photo/Yvonne Senturia)

That’s still better than a few days ago. The doors were locked then. The sandwich board sign was out.

But the arrow was pointing the wrong way.

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School started yesterday. And — right on cue — there was this familiar sight at the Imperial Avenue parking lot:

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

Readers sometimes wonder what they’re doing there.

The answer makes sense: It’s a spot for drivers to gather between runs, without having to navigate the cramped, busy entrance and exit at the Dattco lot across from Playhouse Square.

Once in the morning there, and again in the afternoon, is plenty.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is X-rated.

Michael and Valerie Szeto write: “With Cole Porter’s permission. one might say, ‘Birds do it, bees do it, even Westport horseshoe crabs do it … let’s do it, let’s fall in love!'”

(Photo/Valerie Szeto)

This shot of mating horseshoe crabs was taken in the shallow water off Owenoke Park. Michael spotted it; Valerie snapped it.

The couple then left, giving this other couple some privacy.

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And finally … it wasn’t hard to figure out today’s song, was it?

(Birds and bees don’t do it, but we hope you will: Support “06880.” Please click here to contribute.)

Roundup: Chino Cortez, School, Drought & Lanternflies …

In December 2020, I posted an email from Katherine Calise.

After a big snowstorm, her trash collector — Chino Cortez of Cortez Refuse — had shoveled his own path to her cans.

“He is the kindest person — all around, the nicest person you could meet,” she wrote. “In the summer he sprays the garbage cans so you will not get sick.”

Others agreed. On social media they praised him for hauling away Christmas trees, making sure cans were safely stored in the wind, and texting customers if they forgot to put the trash out.

The other day, Katherine contacted me again. This time, it was about helping out with Chino’s medical bills.

At work earlier this month, a bungee cord snapped and hit his eye. His retina was severely damaged. He’ll have surgery soon, as doctors try to save his sight.

A grateful customer has organized a GoFundMe campaign. Click here for more information, and to help.

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It’s an annual tradition: On the first day of school, parents take photos of their kids at the Juniper Road/Caccamo Lane bus stop.

Here’s this year’s edition. Parents: Save for posterity. Kids: Don’t be embarrassed — decades from now, you’ll appreciate this.

PS: The little ones on both ends? They’ll be graduating before you know it.

(Photo/Pam Long)

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Speaking of school: The Porch @ Christie’s on Cross Highway is located close to 4 of them: Staples High, Bedford Middle, and Coleytown Middle and Elementary.

It’s also on the route for people heading into and out of Westport.

A good number of folks passing near, or by, are teachers. To celebrate a new school year, The Porch is offering free coffee and tea to all educators, now through September 9, with any purchase (6:30 to 9 a.m.) or salad, bowl, sandwich or grill item (3 to 5 p.m.). Just show your school ID.

What a great way to honor teachers. Owners Bill and Andrea Pecoriello have learned their customer service lessons well.

Free coffee or tea for teachers here.

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Speaking of local businesses that care:

On Sunday, Tutti’s Ristorante held a fundraiser for Jimmy Nuzzo. “DJ Jimmy James” — a friend to the owners (the Funicello family) and many others — needs a new heart and liver. 100% of the proceeds from the $25 penne-and-meatball dinner went to help.

Westporters, Norwalkers and others came through — big time. Tutti’s raised nearly $4,000 for Jimmy.

Maria Funicello asked me to thank the “06880” community. Consider it done — and thank you, Tutti’s, too!

Tutti’s owners Pasquale and Maria Funicello opened their restaurant (and hearts) to Jimmy Nuzzo.

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There are many new families on Ludlow Road, Wright Street and Orchard Lane recently.

So the neighborhood near Old Hill threw an old-fashioned block party on Sunday.

There was food and drinks. Adults chatted; kids romped. It was a great way to come together at the start of the school year.

One attendee suggested that every neighborhood with new families should do the same.

Or how about: Every neighborhood in Westport, with or without newcomers?

Send us your block party photos. Party on!

Seeking shade, and familiar and new faces.

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Weston is taking steps to address its drought.

Yesterday, residents received this message from 1st Selectwoman Samantha Nestor:

“I am reaching out to remind residents that Weston (and all of Fairfield County), have been experiencing Stage 2 drought conditions since mid-July due to below normal precipitation levels across Connecticut. Stage 2 identifies an emerging drought event that could potentially impact water supplies, agriculture, or natural ecosystems.

“Per Governor Lamont, ‘Residents should be mindful of their water consumption and take sensible steps to reduce impacts on other water uses and on the environment. We must begin early steps now to mitigate the potential for harm should the drought become prolonged.'”

Weston asks residents to voluntarily take measure to help reduce the impact of the drought conditions, including:

  • Reduce watering lawns, gardens, and other landscaped areas; if watering is essential, late evening hours are best
  • Avoid burning in or near woodlands or brush-lands
  • Take shorter showers
  • Run dishwashers and clothes washing machines with full loads
  • Shut off water while washing dishes, shaving, brushing teeth, and lathering up to wash hands, rather than running the water continuously
  • Avoid washing vehicles or power-washing homes and other buildings
  • Do not use water to clean sidewalks, driveways, and roads
  • Postpone planting new lawns or vegetation
  • Minimize overall water use by fixing leaky plumbing and fixtures
  • Follow any additional conservation requests

For more information from the Connecticut Drought Information Center, click here. (Hat tip: Gloria Gouveia)

Meanwhile, one more indication that Westport is in a drought too:

Near Levitt Pavilion. (Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Speaking of environmental threats, consider the spotted lanternfly.

It’s crossed Connecticut’s southwest border — that’s us — and could threaten businesses, nurseries and homeowners, causing billions of dollars in damage while devastating the landscape, in 2 years.

The SLF is a sap-feeding plant hopper native to China. It is believed to have entered this country as an egg mass stuck to a shipment of stone sent to Pennsylvania in 2012. Since then, that state’s agriculture, vineyards, forests, nurseries and residential areas have suffered serious damage.

The SLF started making its way into Connecticut last year. The state Agricultural Experiment Station issued a quarantine order. The hope is that the pest will be slowed long enough to find a treatment to control or eradicate it.

The beautiful-looking insect affects fruit trees, grapes, hops and ornamental trees. The nymphs (immature stage of the SLF) and adults feed on sap from trees and vines, causing them to weaken. Excretions from the SLF stick to the leaves; black sooty mold grows, reducing the plant’s ability to photosynthesize properly.  This reduce crop yields, and weaken trees and plants further, eventually destroying them.

Spotted lanternfly

It can also wreak havoc on lawn furniture, sidewalks, sides of buildings, car tires and everything else outside, making them a sticky mess.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station urges everyone to report any sightings.

If you spot an SLF, kill it right away. Report it here; include a photo if possible. (Hat tip: Susan Iseman)

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Jenni Kayne opened its 4th store last weekend. The location for the “California lifestyle brand” is Sconset Square.

It showcases the interiors arm of Jenni Kayne Home, with furniture set in “real-room environments,: and home accessories. The store also carries Jenni’s skincare line, Oak Essentials.

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“Westport … Naturally” returns to the theme of drought. Deadman Brook looked particularly low the other evening:

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

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And finally … in honor of back-to-school (and The Porch @ Christie’s celebration of teachers — see story above), here’s this long-forgotten Elton John classic.

Okay, the lyrics are not exactly a paean to a classroom education. But still …

Roundup: The Porch, Hooked, Playhouse Gala …

“06880”‘s Unsung Hero feature runs every Wednesday.

But this story — reported first on Facebook’s “Westport Front Porch” page — deserves to be told today. J. Van Burke wrote:

“Huge shout-out to The Porch @ Christie’s.

“My friend and her family were visiting from Kansas. As parents of a child with Down syndrome they wanted to support a business that gives employment opportunities to all, so we went for breakfast at The Porch.

“My friend left her purse there, and only realized it when they were on to their next stop in Rhode Island.

“The lovely folks at The Porch had it overnighted to her — and even included some treats for her kids to enjoy in the parcel. Such thoughtfulness and kindness should be applauded.”

Absolutely! Among Westport’s treasures, The Porch @ Christie’s stands @ the top of any list.

The Porch @ Christie’s co-owner Bill Pecoriello, on the porch.

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Westport was hopping yesterday evening.

The Levitt Pavilion was packed, for a Santana tribute band. Restaurants were jammed too, with outdoor diners. A huge crowd thronged Compo’s South Beach, for the 9th annual “06880” blog party.

Meanwhile, elsewhere at Compo, on one of the most beautiful nights of the year, Hook’d — the concessionaire — closed early.

At least they gave a few folks warning, via text. (Hat tip: Sal Liccione)

Despite the posted hours, Hook’d closed early last night. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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Sure, it’s hot. But the show must go on.

So it will: indoors.

Tomorrow’s (Saturday, July 23, 7 p.m.) “Broadway through the Ages” concert at MoCA will be inside the gallery, rather than out on the lawn. It stars 2013 Staples High School graduate Michelle Pauker, with music direction by Juilliard & Oxford Academy composer Jake Landau — a 2013 classmate of Michelle’s.

Entry to the museum’s “Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse” exhibit is included in the admission. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Michelle Pauker

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Renée Elise Goldsberry — Angelica Schuyler in “Hamilton” — headlines the return of the Westport Country Playhouse’s gala benefit. She’ll perform Broadway, pop and soul songs on Saturday, September 17.

The evening begins with a 5:30 p.m. cocktail party, including a live auction and raffle. Her 8 p.m. performance is followed by an after-party, with a DJ and dancing. The host is Robin de Jesús, from “In the Heights.”

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Renee Elise Goldsberry

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Congratulations to Mo Deegan: a recent inductee into the Little East Conference Hall of Fame.

The Staples High School graduate is one of the most accomplished multi-sport athletes in Eastern Connecticut State University history. She earned All-America, All-Region and All-League honors in field hockey and lacrosse. Several of her records still stand.

This is her second Hall of Fame. In 2014, she was inducted into ECSU’s Athletics Alumni HOF.

Mo Deegan

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Julie Blume enjoyed this beautiful visitor to her Bonnie Brook Road home yesterday.

There’s always something new — and wondrous — in our “Westport … Naturally” world.

(Photo/Julie Blume)

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And finally … you might not know his name, but if you grew up in the 1970s you knew his voice.

William Hart, lead singer and songwriter of the Grammy-winning group the Delfonics, died last week in Philadelphia, from complications during surgery. He was 77. Click here for a full obituary.

(“06880” relies on reader donations. Please click here to contribute.)

Photo Challenge #391

Since opening in the middle of the pandemic, The Porch @ Christie’s has become exactly what owners Bill and Andrea Pecoriello envisioned: a worthy successor to the long-lived market/deli on Cross Highway.

Also: place for people with disabilities to learn skills, and work.

And a gathering spot for friends.

Which is why a sign saying “Friends” hangs proudly on the back wall, near the fireplace.

Andrew Colabella, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Barbara Greenspan, Cia Marion, Martin Gitlin and Paul Cahill all knew exactly where to find last week’s Photo Challenge. Click here to see — then head over yourself, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, ice cream or sweets.

But first, check out this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d find this charging station, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Les Dinkin)

 

Roundup: TTCS & Ukraine, RTM & Roe, Holocaust Talk …

The Conservative Synagogue continues to help Ukrainian refugees.

The congregations sponsored a planeload of 132 refugees. The flight left from Budapest on Tuesday, for Israel.

Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn reports that the families have been welcomed to Israel as new citizens.  Mazel tov!

From Ukraine to Israel — with help from The Conservative Synagogue of Westport.

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The Representative Town Meeting’s next session is June 7.

In addition to the usual requests for appropriations and ratifications of Planning & Zoning Commission decisions, there is this agenda item: to adopt a sense of the meeting resolution “that Westport supports the constitutional rights and principles established in Roe v. Wade, and opposes the elimination of those rights by any subsequent Supreme Court decision.”

The town’s non-partisan legislative body has passed similar “sense of the meeting” resolutions before — including, in 1969, a resolution asking President Johnson and Congress to “take immediate action to withdraw from the (Vietnam) war.”

Joanne Woodward spoke in support. After 3 hours of long, impassioned debate, the RTM voted 17-15 in favor of the resolution. The New York Times ran a long story about it.

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On Thursday, Holocaust survivor Judy Altmann gave an important presentation to all Bedford and Coleytown Middle School 8th graders.

The Westport school district has made the link publicly available (and posted it on their website). Click here for her talk. To learn more about Judy Altmann, click here.

Judy Altmann

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The Levitt Pavilion kicks off the holiday weekend with a pair of free “open house” concerts this weekend. No tickets are required for the 2 shows, today and tomorrow (Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29, 5 p.m. both days).

Tonight it’s Michael Coppola and Harvie S Jazz Duo. Tomorrow features The Esperanto Duo: Dave Giardina & Chris Payne (“old time and gypsy jazz”).

Click here for more information.

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Just in time for Memorial Day, a new flagpole has been installed outside the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

Long may she wave!

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Also just in time for Memorial Day: The ice cream hut at The Porch is open for business.

A servicemember and his family kicked off the holiday weekend yesterday, with a treat.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

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Jerry Kuyper snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo in his unmown meadow (“aka yard,” he notes).

The snapping turtle’s shell was about 12 inches long. And, Jerry adds, “the scars on the back might be from a lawn mower.”

No wonder the turtle snaps.

(Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

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And finally … on this day in 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. It denied many Native Americans their land rights, and forcibly relocated them.

Thus began one of the most shameful parts of our nation’s history.

 

Roundup: Straight White Men, Jewish Teenagers, Martha Stewart …

There’s something new at the Westport Country Playhouse: hosts for the evening.

And they don’t look like anything you’d expect:

Ashton Muniz, one of the Westport Country Playhouse hosts. (Photo/dan Woog)

Ashton Muñiz(above) and Akiko Akita are proud non-straight, non-white non-men. So why are they welcoming guests (with big smiles and ear plugs) to the current production of “Straight White Men”?

As they explain before the curtain rises, it’s because the audience needs to get out of its comfort zone.

And why are those ear plugs necessary? Well, the music that plays as the audience finds its seats is not what you’d normally hear at the historic, near-100-year-old theater.

The show itself is quite funny and unsettling — sometimes simultaneously. Playwright Young Jean Lee is the first Asian-American woman to have a show on Broadway.

She’s not the type of person you’d expect to write “Straight White Men.” But  she — and Ashton and Akiko — are happy to welcome you to it.

(For more information and tickets, click here.) 

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In an annual ritual, parents gathered this morning at 5:30 a.m., to set up a wider slide at Kings Highway Elementary School.

Their kids did not see them at work. But a few hours later, they’re sure enjoying it.

(Photo/Frank Rosen)

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Merkaz is a place for Jewish students from area high schools and congregations to learn, socialize, explore and strengthen their religious identity.

This fall (Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m.), Merkaz offers a Westport location.

Courses include:

  • Merkaz Mahjong
  • Choices on the College Campus
  • Jews in the News
  • Denial and The Holocaust
  • Jewish Humor
  • Superheroes
  • Judaism and the Environment
  • Outstanding Jewish Women
  • Jewish Cooking
  • Broadway and the Jews
  • Jewish Songs and Songwriters
  • Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness
  • College Bound
  • Making Local Change

Click here for more information. MerkazCT.org. Questions? Email Merkaz@JewishPhilanthropyCT.org.

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Eve Potts writes:

“There is a new Optimum store in the Fresh Market plaza. We noticed the sign this week. We have questions about billing, so we decided to pay a visit.

“An incredible, bright and knowledgeable young man named Alex answered all our questions quickly and completely. it was a very different experience from our visit to the Norwalk office.

“Alex said they’ve been in town since December, but the sign just recently went up and nobody knows they are here. I want to let Westport  know that Optimum is here, and has a really great guy on board.”

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Speaking of (relatively) new businesses: More than a year after opening — in the middle of COVID — The Porch @ Christie’s held its official ribbon-cutting yesterday.

It was a quick, informal and friendly ceremony — just like the Cross Highway deli itself. The icing on the cake: free cookies, from the Porch’s partner Sweet P Bakery.

Cutting the Porch ribbon (from left): consultant Mark Moeller..2nd Selectwoman Andrea Moore, owners Bill and Andrea Pecoriello, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, marketing director Betsy Weissman, Sweet P Bakery head pastry chef Terri Cahn, manager Iby  Rivera. 

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Beach-bound traffic was diverted yesterday afternoon, when a moving truck snagged a low-hangiing wire on Hillspoint Road, after pulling out of Edgewater Commons.

The road was reopened a few hours later.

The cause of the Hillspoint Road closure. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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“The Great American Tag Sale with Martha Stewart” aired last night.

ABC previewed it: “Martha Stewart, known for turning everyday living into an art form, is ready to part ways with pieces from her vast collection of furniture, art and housewares in this new 1-hour special. Over the years, Martha has amassed an assortment of items that ranges from fine art to knickknacks.

“During the special, she will regale viewers with fond memories of how these beloved items were acquired and offer expert advice on how to execute a successful tag sale. Alongside her team of event planners, Martha will host a series of tag sale events including an exclusive cocktail party for celebrities and neighbors to preview the sale.”

I did not watch the show. In fact, there are 27,298.331 things I would have done before I’d even think of watching it.

But — as someone who remembers when the lifestyle guru/ businesswoman/wrtier/television personality/chef/inmate lived in Westport (and the stories that circulated here) — I wonder how many of of items (both fine art and knicknacks) have a Westport back story. (Hat tip: Betsy Pollak)

How much of Martha Stewart’s tag sale started on Turkey Hill?

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Last month, “06880” reported that Great Island — the 60-acre property off the Darien coast with a stable, riding rings, “grand house,” and whiskey and wine cellar with contents dating back to Prohibition, all once owned by the Steinkraus family of Westport — was for sale.

It was called “the largest private island ever to be offered for sale on the East Coast.”

Now, the Wall Street Journal reports, the town of Darien is in negotiations to buy the island for “more than $100 million.”

Granted, Cockenoe is no Great Island. And 1969 money is not the same as 2022.

But we got our island for just $200,000. (Hat tip: Adam Stolpen)

Great Island …

… and Cockenoe Island.

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Congratulations to May’s Staples High School Students of the Month: jnior Jordyn Goldshore, sophomores Michael Blishteyn and Kervin Joseph, and freshmen Jonah Bernstein and Davi Da Silva.

Principal Stafford Thomas said they were chosen for helping make their school “a welcoming place for peers and teachers. They are the ‘glue’ of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together, making it the special place it is.”

Staples High School Students of the Month (from left): Michael Blishteyn, Jonah Bernstein, Davi Da Silva, Kervin Joseph. Missing: Jordyn Goldshore.

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Relaxing recently for their “Westport … Naturally” closeup at Wakeman Town Farm were these 2 beauties:

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … in honor of a TV show I would never watch, even though it stars one of Westport’s most famous ex-residents (see story above):

Roundup: Affordable Housing Survey, Porch @ Christie’s, Chocolate …

The Planning & Zoning Commission is creating Westport’s first 5-year Affordable Housing Plan — a state mandate.

To ensure that the plan represents town values, the P&Z is conducting a community survey. Click here to begin.

Meanwhile, a draft of the Affordable Housing Plan has been posted to the Town’s website. Click here to see; click here for the “06880” back story.

The survey will be available until June 23.

Among the Planning & Zoning Commission ideas for affordable housing: this  “model pocket neighborhood/cottage commons” design, courtesy of Ross Chapin AIA.

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The Porch @ Christie’s opened in the middle of COVID. It’s been a great success, and a worthy addition to all of northern Westport.

But because the pandemic, there was never an official ribbon-cutting.

Finally, there will be. It’s tomorrow o(Wednesday, May 23, 11:30 a.m.), on (I’m guessing) the Porch’s Cross Highway porch.

Everyone is invited. And — this is really sweet — there are free cookies too, courtesy of Sweet P Bakery, for the first 150 guests.

The Porch @ Christie’s co-owner Bill Pecoriello, on the porch.

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Speaking of food: The Chocolatieree just opened on Church Lane, near Myrtle Avenue. Owner Laureen Haynes — a former laboratory diagnostics worker, who traveled to South America to learn the chocolate business — makes all the treats herself.

The name is a combination of “chocolatier” and “Ree,” Haynes’ nickname. Click here for the full story, in Westport Journal.

“Chef’s Selection,” at The Chocolatieree.

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Speaking of downtown: In years past, Bridgeport artist Linda Colletta was a popular exhibitor at the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

In April she opened her own gallery on Elm Street, in the new building near Brooks Corner.

This weekend, the 49th annual Fine Arts Festival takes place all around her new space.

That’s one of the many intriguing stories surrounding the long-running event. It’s set for Saturday and Sunday (May 28-29, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

The juried show features national and international fine artists exhibiting in a variety of categories, from painting, photography, sculpture, fiber and  printmaking to mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood and graphics. All artwork is for sale in a wide variety of price ranges

The Fine Arts Festival includes food, live music and children’s activities. Click here for details.

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Staples has a new national team athlete.

Freshman Sofia Fidalgo debuted for the U-16 national field hockey team this past weekend, in a series against Canada in Vancouver.

Congratulations, Sofia, on this great accomplishment — and on helping the US sweep all 4 games!

Sofia Fidalgo, representing the US in Canada.

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I know, I know: The universe of “06880” readers interested in this item is astonishingly small.

But I’m posting it as an example of the kinds of things for sale on eBay — and the kinds of things anyone can (apparently) sell, if you 1) keep it in the first place, and 2) hold on to it for decades.

So here it is: The 1966 Staples High School Homecoming Queen Candidates’ ballot.

It’s “used,” and has “various creases.” So it can be yours for the bargain price of $9.99. Click here to buy! (Hat tip: Robert Gerrity)

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Susan Iseman writes:

“This sign was recently installed at Haskins Preserve. Some smart alec  left their poop bag on the ground next to it. I walk my dog there, as well as around town, and am mystified why folks bag the stuff and leave it about.

“Grrrr. Such a sh$&#y situation!”

(Photo/Susan Iseman)

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Longtime Westporter Crescienzo (Christy) John Boccanfuso of Saugatuck Shores died peacefully May 20, surrounded by loved ones.

Christy was born in New York City but moved to Saugatuck Shores in 1948 with his family. He was a life member of Saint Ann’s Club in Norwalk, and a former Engine 4 volunteer firefighter. He took pride in his work, and built his life with his own two hands.

The former owner of Boccanfuso Brothers, Christy lived for fixing, building and improving things around him. For the last 18 years he helped his 2 sons run their auto repair shop.

He loved spending his time with his children and grandchildren, making (and drinking) wine with his brother, and cooking.

He is survived by his wife of 39 years Judith Capossela Boccanfuso; sons Giuseppe (Olivia) Boccanfuso of Easton and Crescienzo (Andrea) Boccanfuso of Fairfield, and daughter Anna Maria (Steven) Angelo of Chesapeake, Virginiia; his twin brother Dominic Boccanfuso and sister Sophia Freitag; 9 grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sisters Mary DiMeglio and Carmella Oboy, and brother Joseph Boccanfuso.

Visitation will take place tomorrow (Wednesday, May 25, 4 to 8 p.m., Harding Funeral Home), with a Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday (10 a.m., Assumption Church). Interment will follow in Assumption Cemetery, Greens Farms. Click here to leave online condolences.

Christy Boccanfuso

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Longtime Westporter Francine Gram died last year, at 100 years old.

We just saw her obituary. It is impressive — and timeless. It reads:

“Francine was born on April 23, 1920 in her grandmother’s house in the medieval walled town of Semur-en-Auxois in Burgundy, France.

“She grew up in Paris, and lived under Nazi occupation. When the US entered World War II, she and her family fled the country because her father was a former US Army officer and expatriate American citizen working for the Paris Herald Tribune.

“Francine and her family traveled through southern France to Spain. She crossed the last Nazi checkpoint at Irun in Basque country, carrying photos of British pilots shot down over France hidden in her undergarments.

“They made it to Sintra, Portugal, where they lived for a year before obtaining passage to the United States on the USS Excalibur.

Once in this country, our mother went to work for the Office of War Information’s Voice of America in the French department, as a broadcaster and feature writer. She sent messages of hope to Nazi-occupied France.

“At the VOA she also worked on the radio adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Rue Sans Issue” (“No Exit”), and with André Breton, the father of surrealism. She was a frequent visitor to the White House; her godfather, Dr. George Fox, was President Roosevelt’s personal physician.

“In 1946 she met naval oficer and PT boat commander Albert Whitworth Gram, at an Officers’ Club dance at the Delmonico in New York. They married the next year.

“Our parents eventually settled in Westport, where they raised their family. Francine was active in the Alliance Française, the Officer’s Club of Fairfield County, St. Luke’s Parish Church, and the Westport Dance Cotillion.

“She is survived by her daughters Nathalie Emerson and Christine Croarkin; 4 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.”

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Mark LaClair spotted a loon fishing off Harbor Road. One or two frequent the area every spring and fall, he says.

He sends along the “looniest” “Westport … Naturally” photo ever.

(Photo/Mark LaClair)

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And finally … it’s hard to believe, but Bob Dylan turns 81 years old today.

I could pick dozens of songs. Instead I’ll just give you this bang for your buck: 5 of his best — and longest. (Hat tip: John Richers)

Roundup: Ice Cream, Dog Fest, Plant Sale …

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

The Porch @ Christie’s ice cream hut opens today, next to the popular Cross Highway deli/coffee shop. They’ll serve from 2 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, noon to 5 p.m. weekends, all spring and summer long.

The Porch uses J Foster local small batch ice cream. Dairy-free sorbet is also available.

The Porch ice cream hut.

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We’ve all gotten doggy bags at restaurants. We’ve also moved way past the fib of saying we’re taking the rest of our meal home to out dogs.

On Wednesday, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce volunteers filled 1,000 actual “doggy bags.”

They’re stuffed with free swag from sponsors of the annual Dog Festival. It’s set for Sunday (May 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Winslow Park.

Some of the treats will be for you. Many of them are actually, truly, honestly for Fido.

Stuffing doggy bags.

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Can’t get to today’s Westport Garden Club plant sale on Jesup Green? (There’s still time: It ends at 1:30 p.m.). Forgot or otherwise missed it? Or maybe you just can’t get enough plants.

You’re in luck. Greens Farms Garden Club follows with their own plant sale and garden boutique tomorrow (Saturday, May 14). It’s 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sherman Green in Fairfield.

I don’t know of any plant sales on Sunday. Maybe you can spend the day planting.

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CLASP — the great organization that runs group homes for adults with disabilities in Westport and other area towns — needs a few items.

To provide any from the list below — or donate funds toward their purchase — call 203-226-7895, ext. 144, or email rhammond@clasphomes.org.

  • ·     Gardening supplies (seeds, plants, soil, gloves, gardening tools)
  • ·     Yard décor (birdbaths or feeders, statues) and yard games
  • ·     Pop-up canopy with screens
  • ·     Gas grill
  • ·     Deck furniture
  • ·     Picnic table
  • ·     Carpeting
  • ·     Painting (interior and exterior).

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Not long ago, Westport Police participated in the state’s distracted driving campaign. They nabbed dozens of drivers.

Now it’s time to buckle up.

They’re joining the state Department of Transportation “Click It or Ticket” campaign. Officers will be vigorously enforcing seat belt laws, for drivers and passengers.

Connecticut law requires that drivers and passengers in the front seat, regardless of the age, as well as all children under 16 anywhere in a vehicle, to wear seat belts. Fines start at $92 for the first offense. For more information, click here.

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Westport resident Aiden Rourke has been selected as one of 8 Lawrenceville School Heely Scholars for the 2022-23 school year.  

The honor goes to rising 5th formers who demonstrate a keen interest and ability in American history.

Heely Scholars will spend 2 weeks this summer exploring World War II material in the school’s archives. In the fall they will take an advanced research seminar.

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While walking his little coton dog down Burr School Road this week, Gregg Tenser saw a feathered friend take a close look back. Gregg wondered if he was sizing up the dog for breakfast.

Here’s a great “Westport … Naturally” shot of an intense look, from a perch in a tree.

(Photo/Gregg Tenser)

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And finally … with all the plant sales going on today and tomorrow (see above), why not honor the greatest Plant of all?

 

 

Roundup: Ducks, Ospreys, Kindness …

The Great Duck Race returns this year. But — just as ducks migrate — so does the popular Westport Sunrise Rotary fundraiser.

From 2008 to ’19, thousands of yellow ducks bobbed in the Saugatuck River. COVID forced it into a virtual format the past 2 years.

On July 9, the Great Duck Race will be run as a giant water sluice on Jesup Green. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 1), the Rotarians will see how it works as a duck race track. AJ Penna is providing a truck and front loader. Water comes from the Westport Fire Department.

Everyone is invited to watch tomorrow. “Ducks” in full costume will pose for photos.

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Also on Jesup Green: The Westport Library Book Sale.

It opened yesterday, with the usual packed crowd. It continues today (Saturday, April 30) until 5 p.m. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 1, noon to 5 p.m.) all items are half price. On Monday (May 2, 9 a.m. to noon), fill a bag for $5, or purchase individual items for half-price.

The Westport Library Book Sale yesterday. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Kindness is always on the Porch menu. Everyone feels comfortable at the Cross Highway café.

Tomorrow through May 15, they’re running a “Kids Kindness Contest.” Everyone in grades K-12 is invited to share a story of how they are kind to friends, strangers or within the community.

The K-2nd grade and 3rd-5th grade winners each earn an ice cream social with 9 friends. The middle and high school winners each get a fun lunch with 3 friends.

Forms are available at the Porch, or by clicking here.

The Porch is always “kind” of cool and great.

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Want to surprise the woman in your life the day before Mothers Day?

Take her to “Supper & Soul” next Saturday (May 7).

It’s a great event, with lots of reasons she’ll be thrilled. The 8 p.m. concert — remember live concerts? — features Cris Jacobs. He’s back in Westport, after a searing show at the 2018 Blues Views & BBQ Festival. The opening act is Gnorm.

The show is at the Westport Library, where the new, state-of-the-art sound system will blow you away.

Tickets ($90) include a 3-course dinner at a downtown restaurant (6 p.m.; list below), including tax and tip (though drinks are on you). $40 concert-only tickets are available too.

Participating restaurants include:

  • 190 Main
  • Amis
  • Arezzo
  • Basso
  • Capuli
  • De Tapas
  • Don Memo
  • Manna Toast
  • Spotted Horse
  • Wafu
  • Walrus Alley

And … after the show, your ticket is good for happy hour pricing on drinks at any of the participating restaurant. Try a different one than dinner!

Click here for tickets and more information. Click below to see Cris Jacobs. The event is sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, and the Westport Library.

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There may be no free lunch. But there was a free sapling giveaway yesterday.

Dozens of Westporters took advantage of the Arbor Day gift at Town Hall, courtesy of the Tree Board.

Residents Robert Sohmer and Debbie Fisher showed up — then offered to help. They’re shown in the photo below, as Tree Board members Alice Ely and Monica Buesser prep saplings.

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Speaking of nature: Recent reports of the Fresh Market ospreys’ demise are premature.

Carolyn Doan reports: “All is well with the pair. They are incubating now, which means they sit very low in the nest and are impossible to see.

“They are really a really strong pair, and are co-parenting. They give each other breaks while one is in the incubating position. They call out to each other when one needs a break or is hungry.

“Yesterday I watched the female sit at the top of a dead tree behind Terrain. and preen herself for 45 minutes. After faint calls from the nest, she went back. Then the male popped up. He went to a nearby perch and preened.

“The ospreys returned a week early this year, so chicks may come sooner than usual.”

A Fresh Market osprey, yesterday afternoon. (Photo/Carolyn Doan)

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Remember the Yarn Bomber? In the darkest days of the pandemic, she brightened the town with her late-night creations.

Molly Alger was not the Yarn Bomber. But — responding to an “06880” offer — she took “secret” lessons, via FaceTime.

The actual Bomber left yarn on Molly’s porch in the middle of the night. Molly  created 2 bombs for her own trees, and 2 for friends.

She also did one for the Senior Center. I lasted through 2 winters and one summer, since November 2020. But it was looking a little ragged.

Now — just in time for spring — Molly has created a new Senior Center yarn bomb.

The pandemic has eased. But the Yarn Bomber — and her protégé — live on.

The Senior Center’s new yarn bomb.

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29 Staples High School students and 6 adults returned recently from 10 days in Spain. It was the first overseas trip for a large group in a decade.

The packed itinerary included visits to Granada, Cordoba, Seville, Madrid and Barcelona. Highlights included Alhambra, scavenger hunts in cities, an olive farm, guided city tours, a flamenco lesson and show, the Prado Museum, a churro breakfast and cooking class, Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, a Good Friday religious procession, and the first women’s soccer match ever played at Camp Nou — with a crowd of 91,000.

Future trips planned by Staples’ World Language Department include Germany next spring, and a February journey to Panama focusing on STEM topics.

Cheering for the Barcelona women’s team at Camp Nou.

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Staples High School’s boys basketball team will have a new look next year.

Head coach Colin Devine is stepping down, to pursue administrative positions. In 15 years at the helm, he built the Wreckers into an FCIAC contender.

Coach Colin Devine (far left) and members of the 2018 Staples High School boys basketball team took the #ALSPepperChallenge.

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Services have been announced for Charlie Capalbo. The former Fairfield Ludlowe High hockey player battled 4 cancers before succumbing last week, one month before his 24th birthday. He is the grandson of Westporters Richard Epstein and Ina Chadwick; his mother Jennifer Wilde Capalbo is a Staples High grad.

Charlie’s wake is Wednesday, May 4 (2 to 8 p.m., Penfield Pavilion, 323 Fairfield Beach Road, Fairfield). A funeral mass is set for Thursday, May 5 (10 a.m., St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, 1719 Post Road, Fairfield). Burial will be private.

Charlie and his mother, Jennifer Wilde Capalbo.

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Today’s New York Times carries one of its most harrowing stories ever on the war in Ukraine. It begins:

 The wind carried the smell of death across the street. The body of the dead man, burned, mutilated and barely recognizable, was taken from the refrigerator and laid on a metal gurney. The coroner smoked a cigarette and unzipped the black bag.

It was a beautiful spring day. There had been no shelling that morning. And Oksana Pokhodenko, 34, gasped, blinking, at the charred corpse. That was not her brother, she told herself, that was not Oleksandr. That was barely a human.

Her brother lived once. The family patriarch for 20 years since their father died, he called his sister every day after the war started as he fled with his family to a village, Husarivka, wedged between rolling wheat fields. He kept calling — “Hello, Little One. We’re good. How are you?” — but never mentioned that the Russians had overrun the village where he was hiding.

Ms. Pokhodenko, in black jeans, a black jacket and barely laced sneakers, struggled to keep looking at the body. Her brother had taught her how to ride a bike and had loved to watch cartoons for hours with his son. To his sister, he was a “stone wall.” This was a charred husk. Half of the man’s skull was gone, and his chest cavity was splayed open.

The photos are as chilling as the writing. They’re all by Tyler Hicks, the 1988 Staples High School graduate and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Click here for the full story, and Tyler’s images.

Some of Tyler Hicks’ latest photos, illustrating atrocities in committed in Ukraine. (Photos/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

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“Westport … Naturally” waves goodbye to April (and hello to May!) with this gorgeous image from the Library Riverwalk:

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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And finally … on this day in 1803, the US purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. We spent $15 million — and more than doubled the size of our nation.