Tag Archives: Westport Astronomical Society

Roundup: Halloween Parade, Jeera Thai, Pickleball …

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In the winter of 2020. Jeff Manchester emailed “06880.” He was concerned about the “incredibly dumb placement” of a utility pole at the southwest corner of the Post Road West/Riverside Avenue intersection.  He sent this photo:

(Photo/Jeff Manchester)

Jeff warned: “It will surely result in a wedged tractor trailer at the intersection (trying to get back to I-95), or worse yet a fatality into the pole.”

There’s been no fatality yet. But yesterday, Jeff saw a bad accident right there. The pole leaned precariously against the building, as police and utility workers were figuring out what to do.

Moving forward, it’s a state road. The decision — to move the pole, or do something to the road — is in the Department of Transportation’s hands.

Don’t hold your breath.

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Get those costumes ready!

Westport’s annual Children’s Halloween Parade returns — after a year’s COVID absence — on Wednesday, October 27. Kids and parents meet on the Post Road at Main Street at 3:30 p.m.

The vent — for all children (“especially those 8 and under”) heads up Main Street, right on Avery Place, left on Myrtle Avenue, and ends at Town Hall and Veterans Green.

Children may trick or treat along Main Street, and in front of Town Hall. Entertainment, refreshments and a small gift will be provided n Veterans Green at 4 p.m.

The event is sponsored by Westport Parks and Recreation Department, the Downtown Merchants Association and Westport PAL.

Seen at a previous Halloween parade.

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Speaking of downtown: It has a new look.

On Saturday afternoon, 5 paintings were unveiled in the walkway to Bedford Square off Main Street. “Westport Illustrated” portrays the history — and future — of Westport.

The mural project is a collaboration between the Westport Arts Advisory Committee, David Adam Realty and Charter Realty & Development, with support from the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.

From right to left: Eric Chiang, “A Vibrant New Community Unfurls”; Iyaba Ibo Mandigo, “The Ground Beneath Their Feet”; Hernan Garcia, “The Tides of Change”‘ Jana Ireijo,. “Keeping Memories Alive”; Rebecca Ross (Westport) “Westport of the Future: Circa 2070.”

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Alert “06880” readers know that Jeera Thai is one of my favorite restaurants. The fresh ingredients, wonderful spices and special flavors — all lovingly prepared — make every meal a treat.

Now my go-to spot is open 7 days a week.

They’ve announced 3 new weekly specials, too:
• Prawn phat phong karee กุ้งผัดผงกระหรี่
• Basil fried rice ข้าวผัดกระเพาะกุ้ง
• Panang curry with chicken แพนงไก่

Jeera Thai — across from Design Within Reach, next to Finalmente — is easy to overlook. But you shouldn’t!

Jeera Thai, nestled in a small space off the Post Road.

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A “Roundup” item last week about the Westport Astronomical Society‘s observance of Observe the Moon Night impelled Paul Delano to head to the observatory on Bayberry Lane.

He reports: “Everyone was very friendly and knowledgeable. Quite a few people were checking out the view. It was a beautiful sky and great to use the telescopes to see the planets. It’s at the highest point in Westport, so it has a great view of the sky. That night the moon, Jupiter and Saturn were the brightest.

“I got a new camera and telephoto lens recently that I wanted to try out. They let me set up my tripod and camera. I was surprised I could see so much more than the naked eye.”

Paul sent along a couple of photos:

Westport Astronomical Observatory, and the moon. (Photo/Paul Delano)

Moon, from the observatory. (Photo/Paul Delano)

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The 2 pickleball courts at Compo Beach get plenty of action.

And when the pickleball players finish, they often hang around and chat. It’s a great sport — and a very social one.

The other day, the pickleballers outdid themselves. Here’s their feast:

To learn more about pickleball in Westport, email Tom Lowrie: tlowrie123@gmail.com.

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A first-ever International Market & Festival is set this Saturday (October 23, noon to 5 p.m.) at Lachat Town Farm in Weston.

It features include vendors representing various countries, cultural music and dance, and markets with food from countries like Italy, France, Kenya, Pakistan, Brazil, Peru, India, Japan, Romania and Mexico. Children will receive a “passport” they can fill up as they visit each exhibit.

Tickets are $20 per family. Click here for more information.

Westport celebrates jUNe Day. This Saturday, Weston hosts its own International & Festival. (Photo/Jeff Simon)

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Westport artist Kelly Rossetti is a featured artist at the Norwalk Art Space’s next exhibition (October 28 through December 2).

An opening reception on October 28 (6 to 9 p.m.) includes a DJ, dance performances, and the indie pop and folk duo East River. Click here for more information.

Kelly Rossetti

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is all about dogwood berries. Scott Smith writes:

“We all get festive celebrating the blossoming of our lovely native dogwood trees early each spring. But Cornus florida deserves a special shoutout this fall.

“The profusion of red berries is the most vibrant I can recall. Whether it’s the summer that just won’t quit or the autumn that can’t get started, I don’t know, but I’m enjoying it.

“So too are the many birds that flock to this windfall of nutrient-rich berries. Robins in particular squabble over the berry-laden dogwood in my yard, even though there’s more than enough to go around. Let’s hope the birds spread the seeds of these treats far and wide.”

(Photo/Scott Smith)

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And finally … Peter Tosh was born today in 1944. From 1963 to 1976 he, Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer were the heart of the reggae band the Wailers. He then became a successful solo artist. He was killed in 1987 during a home invasion, at age 42.

Roundup: Pink Aid, Bagels, Pickleball …

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Like many charities, Pink Aid CT has pivoted this year to a virtual event.

They’re calling it “virtuous.” Hundreds of items –will be auctioned off starting Tuesday (October 5, 9 a.m.). Among them:

  • A flight on Marc Lasry’s private jet to sit courtside and watch the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks
  • Private safari for 2 in Tanzania
  • VIP seating at Christian Siriano’s fall 2022 show, with backstage passes.

All funds raised benefit women with breast cancer in underserved communities.

A video about the event features the auction’s host, Westporter and “A Million Little Things” star Stephanie Szostak.

For auction tickets and more, click here.

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Adam Goldberg’s pop-up bagel project at the Manna Hub kitchen has grown into a full-time operation. It’s packed on weekends, and a full-time store opens soon in Georgetown.

Now he’s going even bigger time. Adam was the only out-of-state vendor invited to compete at this weekend’s Brooklyn Bagelfest.

Can a little Westport bagel guy beat the big boys at their own game? Fingers crossed. Stay tuned!

Behind the scenes in the Don Memo kitchen. From left: Rachel Golan,.David Levinson
Jason Epstein, Adam Goldberg. (Photo/Ria Rueda)

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Leonard Everett Fisher is a Westport icon. He’s a World War II veteran, a civic volunteer — and, for over 70 years, a nationally enowned illustrator, painter and designer.

He’s being honored through the end of the year by the Westport Library. An exhibit of his work — “A Life of Art” — is open at the Sheffer and South Galleries.

Fisher has written and illustrated hundreds of children’s books, and created over 700 paintings and 6000 scratch boards. The Library show features many original illustrations and acrylic paintings. 

It’s an exhibit not to be missed. Before you go, click here (then scroll down) for a virtual studio tour of this remarkable man.

Leonard Everett Fisher at Westport’s 2016 Memorial Day ceremonies.

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The agenda for Wednesday’s Parks & Recreation Commission meeting (7:30 p.m., Zoom) includes a discussion of possible pickleball sites.

The meeting ID is 879 8059 1192. The passcode is 480909.

The Compo Beach pickleball courts get plenty of use.

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Two great Nash’s Corner businesses are offering 20% off deals for new customers. You can combine them, or just take advantage of one.

Felicia’s Salon Nash — run by the wonderful Felicia Catale — provides cuts for women, men, girls and boys. with blowouts and coloring too. Call 203-747-9753 and 203-349-5814.

For 20% off 3D synthetic mink eyelashes — usually $180, now $144 — at Nash’s Lashes by Judy, call 203- 557-8964,

Felicia Catale

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On October 1, 1961 — 60 years ago yesterday — Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.

A young Westporter named Robert Mull was there. It was the first Major League game he ever saw. His father captured all of Maris’ at-bats that day — including the shot off Tracy Stallard, his hat tip and more.

Now Mull has posted the video online. Click here to see. (Speaking of hat tips: thanks, Fred Cantor!)

Screenshot from the Roger Maris video.

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The other day, Chris Grimm was scrolling through a site that sells t-shirts of defunct Connecticut businesses. (I didn’t ask for details.) He found this classic for Arnie’s Place, the video game arcade that is now Ulta:

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Next up for the Westport Astronomical Society: NASA astrophysicist Scott Guzewich discusses “Roving Mars with Curiosity and Perseverance.”

It’s a clever title, and is sure to be out of this world. Click on the October 19 (8 p.m.) links: Zoom and YouTube livestream.

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The National Charity League’s Westport chapter invites 6th grade girls to apply for the 2022-23 year. NCL With over 275 members, the local group provides volunteer service for over 30 community organizations. Members are women and their daughters in grades 7-12.

The 6-year core program includes leadership development and cultural activities. For more information click here, or email lisa22607@gmail.com.

The National Charity League gang takes a break from volunteer work.

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The good news: Rebecca Schussheim, Lucia Wang and Tom Zhang  will represent Staples High School at the 8th annual Normandy International Youth Leadership Summit next month.. They were chosen because of their academic performance and interest in world affairs.

The bad news: This year’s event is virtual, so they don’t get to go to France.

But congratulations anyway, on a great achievement!

(From left): Rebecca Schussheim,Lucia Wang, Tom Zhang.

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Samera Nasereddin describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

“Two baby raccoons visited our garden, and delighted my cat and me. They were very curious, unafraid and non-aggressive. We sent a photo to a local expert, who told us they were healthy 3-4-month-olds, learning how to fend for themselves. I’m so grateful for their sweet visit. I hope that they continue to be safe and healthy, wherever they are now.”

(Photo/Samera Nasereddin)

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And finally … It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of Roger Maris. But seeing his name — and the video of his 61st home run — made me think of other famous players.

And of course:

Roundup: EMS, NASA, Tashlich …

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Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service‘s first certification course since the pandemic began starts September 21. A decline in membership during COVID makes the call for volunteers more important than ever.

The course is open to any 14 and over. High school students earn EMR certification before age 16; then they become EMT-certified. Prior experience is not needed.

Full tuition reimbursement is available to those who successfully complete the course, and go on to volunteer with WVEMS.

For more information, email training@westportems.org.

After state certification, new EMTS can volunteer on Westport’s ambulances.

A few of Westport’s Volunteer Emergency Medical Service heroes.

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When things go wrong in space, who you gonna call?

Dr. Bob Dempsey, for one. The NASA flight director has had plenty of experience, working with Mission Control to solve problems with the International Space Station.

On September 21 (8 p.m.), he’ll join the Westport Astronomical Society for a free virtual lecture on “When Things Go Wrong in Space.

Click here for the Zoom link; click here for the YouTube livestream.

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Tashlich is a ceremony performed on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Jews symbolically cast off the sins of the previous year by tossing pebbles or bread crumbs into flowing water.

A group of Y’s Women gathered yesterday at Compo Beach. They threw bad thoughts and actions into Long Island Sound, preparing for the start of a good new season.

(Photo/Barb Stephen)

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Fortunately, the dystopian Los Angeles of 2019 predicted in the 1982 film “Blade Runner” did not come to pass (mostly).

It’s still a great movie. And you can see it again, tomorrow night at 7:30 at the Remarkable Theater. Click here for tickets to the drive-in theater on Imperial Avenue.

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Katie Spector has just published her first picture book: “Katie Spector the Art Collector.” It’s about a creative little girl who can’t part with her art. Katie’s story celebrates community, art, and staying true to yourself.

She’s celebrating too, with an outdoor event at Wakeman Town Farm on September 25 (1 to 3 p.m). There will be book readings, art projects and live music. RSVPs required; click here.

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“Westport … Naturally” doesn’t get any more delicious than this:

(Photo/Wendy Levy)

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And finally … on this date in 1900, the US suffered its deadliest natural disaster.

A hurricane roared ashore at Galveston, Texas. The death toll was estimated at 8,000; 7,000 buildings were destroyed, and 10,000 left homeless, out of total population of fewer than 38,000.

It marked the end of the “Golden Era of Galveston” too, as investors turned their sights on the more sheltered city of Houston.

Roundup: Bob Le Rose, Barbara Pearson-Rac, Movies …

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In 2012 Bob LeRose — founder of 2 Westport favorites, Bobby Q’s restaurant and the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival — was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer. He was given 2 years to live.

Over the next 10 years Bob endured numerous surgeries and countless treatments. He also opened new restaurants in Norwalk and Greenwich,  continued to produce the Labor Day festival, and helped his wife Kelley raise 2 daughters.

But the disease has persisted. Bob needs physical and occupational therapy nearly every day, to regain his strength so he can get to the hospital for blood transfusions and immunotherapy. He also needs a special bed and wheelchair. Many other expenses are mounting too.

Nearly a decade of medical bills have taken a toll on the self-employed restauranteur. Bob’s many friends — all of whom have been touched by his generosity — are giving back.

A GoFundMe page has already raised over $100,000. Even more will be needed. Click here for more information, and to contribute. (Hat tip: Audrey Rabinowitz)

Bob Le Rose, with his wife Kelley and daughters.

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“06880” paid tribute to Barbara Pearson-Rac yesterday. She died Tuesday, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 75 years old.

Her official obituary notes that the Brooklyn native was inspired to serve her community because of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. She chaired Make a Difference Day for over 25 years, was president of the board of First Night Westport Weston, and vice president of the board of the Breast Cancer Survival Center.

She was also an author, writing a series of mystery novels featuring the character Diana Jeffries.

Barbara is survived by her husband Frank, daughter Sara, son-in-law Steve, grandsons Simon and Gabriel, sister Carol, brother-in-law Steve, nieces Amy and Erica, many cousins, and all the lives she touched through her community outreach and writing.

Her funeral is set for today (Beth Israel Cemetery, Woodbridge, New Jersey, 11 a.m.). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Barbara Pearson-Rac

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The Remarkable Theater calendar continues to be filled with remarkable — or at least, very entertaining — films.

Here’s what’s ahead:

  • Monday, August 9: “Mamma Mia!” (8:30 p.m.)
  • Wednesday, August 11: Scream” (9:15 p.m.)
  • Monday, August 16: “Coco” (7:45 p.m.)
  • Wednesday, August 18; “Get Out” (9:15 p.m.)
  • Monday, August 23: “Stand By Me” (7:45 p.m.).

Click here for tickets and more information.

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MoCA’s fall benefit has something for everyone.

“The Art of Jazz” includes live music by Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, a live auction led by TV personality Dave Briggs, a silent auction, and entertainment by DJ Mo.

It’s Saturday, September 18 (7 p.m.) at the museum. For tickets and more information, click here.

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Sunny the Duck is popping up all over town. Yesterday he loomed over the Saugatuck River.

(Photo/Susan Lloyd)

The iconic waterfowl advertises Westport Sunrise Rotary’s annual Great Duck Race (actually, this year a raffle on August 6).

The fundraiser helps support a host of charitable efforts. There are 8 prizes, including a $5,000 Visa gift card. Click here for details and tickets.

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Speaking of animals:

On Tuesday Olaf and Elsa, domestic white rabbits, were abandoned outside Wakeman Farm. A call to Westport Animal Control brought the assistance of Westport Animal Shelter Advocates.

Always-helpful Schulhof Animal Hospital stepped up to board the pair until an adopter or rabbit rescue organization is found. WASA purchased new rabbit bins for their comfort, and will fund their visit to a “rabbit vet specialist.”

Click here to donate to the cause. Interested adopters should call Westport Animal Control (203-341-5076) or WASA (203-557-0361).

Olaf the rabbit.

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Bob Meadows — director of the Westport Observatory — has just returned from the 85th Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers (“the world’s oldest amateur star party”).

He’ll offer a report on August 17 (8 p.m., Rolnick Observatory, 182 Bayberry Lane). The public is invite. For more information, click here.

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Last week’s torrential rain did not deter crowds at Quidley & Company’s show.

There was art, cuisine (catered by OKO, the restaurant next door at the gallery), and good conversation.

Cynthia Melchiorri created this collage to celebrate the event.

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Speaking of art: Not everyone at Wilton’s Sunrise Assisted Living can get out and enjoy it. So Westporter Jane Hutchison is bringing it to them.

Next Wednesday (August 11, 4 to 6 p.m.), she’s arranged a show. Artists include Westport’s Nina Bentley, Mercedes Arenberg, and various local photographers.

As at any art show, wine will be served.

One of Nina Bentley’s typewriter works.

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Haskins Preserve is Westport’s somewhat-hidden-in-plain-sight gem on Green Acre Lane. You can read about it here — and see Rachel Markus’ great “Westport … Naturally” photo below:

(Photo/Rachel Markus)

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As the setting sun broke through the clouds on Tuesday, after years of 2nd and 3rd place finishes, the Longshore Men’s 60+ tennis team clinched 1st place in their division of the Fairfield County Tennis League with a tense 6-4,4-6, 6-4 win over second place Milbrook. It was the very last match of the season.

(Photo/Matthew Levine)

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And finally … on this date in 1888,  Bertha Benz drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back. It is considered the first long distance automobile trip in history.

Roundup: Ben Casparius, Cosmos, Wienermobile …

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Ben Casparius is one step closer to Major League Baseball.

The former Staples High School star was chosen in the 5th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in yesterday’s draft. He was #162 overall.

The pitcher recently completed his senior season at the University of Connecticut. He was 8-5, with a 4.03 ERA, and a team-leading 15 starts. He struck out 15 Georgetown players in 7 innings, a career high.

According to SB Nation:

Casparius led the Huskies in innings (91 2/3), as well as strikeouts (127), which translates to 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. His strikeout mark is second in UConn history…. This was enough to earn Casparius ABCA First-Team honors for the Northeast region, as well as second-team all-conference honors and a spot on the Big East all-tournament team.

Casparius’ best pitch is his change-up, which MLBPipeline graded a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale, which translates to above-average. His fastball, slider and control were each given 50 grades, which is average. His fastball sits around 91 mph but he has been recorded as high as 95 mph. He projects as a strike-thrower with a solid three-pitch mix. This, despite his slight 6-foot, 208-pound build, leaves him a chance to start through his professional career.

The “recommended signing bonus” for Casparius is $318,200. (Click here for the full SB Nation story. Hat tip: David Goldstein) 

Ben Casparius, in a post-game interview.

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Looking to improve your photos of the cosmos?

The Westport Astronomical Society’s next free virtual lecture features Adam Block. He’s one of the world’s (universe’s?) leading astrophotographers.

Mark your calendars (sundials?) for July 20 (8 p.m.). Click here for the Zoom link. Click here for the YouTube stream.

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Longtime Westporter Leonard Kritzer died Sunday in Boca Raton, Florida. He was 97 years old.

In 2012 — nearly 70 years after he helped liberate France from Nazi occupation — he was named by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to that nation’s elite Legion of Honor. The group was founded in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.

A group of 20 World War II veterans received an insignia from the French Consulate in Boynton Beach, Florida. Their Knight honor was the highest of the Legion’s 5 degrees.

Kritzer spent 50 years in Westport, as a merchant and home builder. He and his wife Lea moved here from Long Island in 1954 to open Country Casuals, a women’s sportswear and country attire shop in Compo Shopping Center. He later founded Kritzer Development Corporation, and built 50 homes in Westport and Weston.

Kritzer was a 19-year-old student (and 6-4 basketball player) at Brooklyn College when he was drafted into the Army, in 1944.

He landed at Utah Beach a month after D-Day. A veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and 3 other engagements, he spent most of his time at the front. His unit calculated the distance to enemy artillery based on the sounds of big guns.

After France was liberated, Kritzer’s unit moved into Germany. They remained there as an occupying force, after surrender. He was discharged in 1946.

He retired 2 decades ago to Florida, with his wife Lea. He was an avid tennis player there.

Kritzer is survived by his wife Lea; son Harry; daughter Lizzz; granddaughters Lauren Hammarstedt and Erin Spillman; great-grandsons Sagan and Julien Spillman, and great-granddaughter Hariet Spillman.

Services will be held in Florida.

Leonard Kritzer

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Jon Olefson spotted this strange sight yesterday, on the top level of the Wilton Road parking garage opposite National Hall, OKO and Bartaco:

(Photo/Jon Olefson)

If it’s a tire theft, that’s pretty obnoxious (and bold). If it’s something else, click “Comments” and let us all know.

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Speaking of parking: There are a few parking spots on the east side of Hillspoint Road, in front of the old Positano’s restaurant.

Savvy out-of-towners used to park there, then walk to Compo Beach. Now they’re reserved for beach sticker vehicles only.

Occasionally, someone parks just south of the permitted spots. Westport Police are quick to ticket them.

I’ve never seen anyone park quite so illegally as this, though. This was a couple of hundred yards south of the zone — closer to Schlaet’s Point than Old Mill.

And please, do not comment that “it may have been a medical emergency.” Unless the emergency was a complete stoppage of the driver’s brain.

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Also spotted parked in Westport: the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

Drivers heading past the Exit 18 commuter parking lot on the Sherwood Island Connector relished this view yesterday.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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Wendy Levy is a clinical forensic psychologist and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine.

In her spare time though, she takes beautiful photos. Like this one — today’s “Westport … Naturally” selection.

(Photo/Wendy Levy)

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And finally … on this day in 1985, the Live Aid benefit concert for famine relief took place in London and Philadelphia. Concerts inspired by the event were held in the Soviet Union, Canada, Japan, Yugoslavia, Austria, Australia and West Germany.

An audience of about 1.9 billion, in 150 nations, watched the live broadcast — nearly 40 percent of the world population.

Roundup: Roe Halper, Southport Diner, Elusive Objects …

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After Roe Halper’s husband Chuck died in 2017, the noted artist wanted to make a tribute incorporating emotion, interpretation and design. She used lndia ink with Chinese brushes to create a book called Passage, about Chuck’s passage through life.

“Although I was thinking of him when I created it, it has a universal theme,” Roe says.

Passage is available at the Westport Library Store, Westport Museum of History & Culture (formerly the Westport Historical Society) and Barrett Book Store in Darien, and directly from Roe (203-226-5187; chalper@optonline.net).

A page from “Passage,” by Roe Halper.

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Once upon a time, it was the Athena Diner.

It had a grand reopening yesterday with a new name: The Southport Diner.

The website says: “Chef John and his brother Chef Adonis, aka Tony the Greek, grew up running Andros Diner in Fairfield, working with their father Leo Pertesis.”

So though the name has changed, it’s still one of those Northeast favorites: a Greek diner. (Hat tip: Isabelle Breen)

Southport Diner

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How do you capture the most elusive objects in the solar system?

I’m not sure. But Thierry Legault may.

The world renowned astrophotographer joins the Westport Astronomical Society on May 18 (8 p.m.) for a virtual talk on the topic of elusive objects.

From his home “in the light-polluted suburbs of Paris,” he’ll show some of those elusive objects he’s captured — like images of the International Space Station, eclipses and transits.

The event will be presented both as a Zoom webinar (click here to register), and a YouTube livestream (click here for the page).

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Dr. Suniya Luthar is familiar to many Westporters.

The emerita professor of psychology at Columbia’s Teachers College led a longitudinal study on youth and resilience here. She chose Westport because of its high number of high-achieving professionals, and the emphasis on status and achievement. 

That study was referenced in a guest essay in today’s New York Times. The piece looks at the mental health of young people today. Click here to read. But beware: The news is not good.

Psressures — academic, social and other — are high on teenagers today. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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“Goodbye Honey.”

That’s the name of the new movie from Todd Rawiszer. The 2007 Staples High School graduate produced and co-wrote the film.

Shot in Westport and Pennsylvania, it follows 2 women who must trust each other to survive the longest night of their lives. They are “badass, strong women,” as well as good Samaritans.

“Goodbye Honey” was screen at festivals across the country, winning Best Thriller Feature, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor at the Garden State Film Festival, Best Lead Performance at the Nightmares Film Festival, and Best Actress at NOLA Horror Film Festival.

It will be released May 11 on cable, satellite and digital HD>

Click below for the trailer:

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Nature continues to elate and inspire us. Lavinia Lawson spotted this handsome sight at Grace Salmon Park …

(Photo/Lavinia Lawson)

… while Lauri Weiser snapped this shot at the Lansdowne condominiums.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Former Westporter Alex Lasry is running for the United States Senate.

In Wisconsin.

The 33-year-old Democrat hopes to unseat Republican Ron Johnson. Lasry has taken a leave from his position as Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president. His father — a billionaire businessman and hedge fund executive — co-owns the NBA team. The Lasry family first lived on Sylvan Road North. Marc Lasry now lives on Beachside Avenue.

Before the Bucks, Alex Lasry worked in the Obama White House for senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. He was host committee chair for the 2020 Democratic Convention, which was planned for Milwaukee but held virtually due to COVID. (Hat tip: Gloria Gouveia)

Alex Lasry

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And finally … in honor of the Westport Astronomical Society’s lecture capturing the most elusive objects in the solar system:

Roundup: Vaccines, Christopher Plummer, More

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United Way of Connecticut is expanding availability and access to vaccine scheduling.

Beginning Monday (February 8), 125 contact specialists will take phone calls to schedule appointments from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week. They can book up to 10,000 appointments at 12 locations across Connecticut. Call 877-918-2224.

For more vaccine information, click here. The state is focused on vaccinating residents 75 and older, but priority groups will expand this month as more vaccine becomes availabl.e

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In the wake of Christopher Plummer’s death yesterday in Weston, Hedi Lieberman sends along this video of a “CBS Sunday Morning” profile from 2011. It includes scenes of the legendary actor at the venue where he made his American stage debut in 1953: the Westport Country Playhouse.

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Yesterday’s Friday Flashback offered some long-forgotten views of Westport during the 1950s construction of I-95 (Connecticut Turnpike).

They showed Saugatuck and the South Compo areas. But Beachside Avenue was also impacted and altered, as a new bridge rose then between Greens Farms Road and Burying Hill Beach.

Nearly 7 decades later, it’s being replaced. The result is a novel look at the area — whether you’re driving past on Greens Farms, or underneath on the highway.

(Photo/Scott Smith)

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Longtime Westporter John Caggiano died peacefully at home last month, of complications from Alzheimer’s.  He was 82 years old.

Growing up in Brooklyn, his family instilled in him a great love of his Italian heritage. It stayed with him all his life.

John studied art after high school, then went into advertising. He spent most of his career at Doyle Dane Bernbach, rising to creative director and driving award-winning campaigns for Volkswagen, IBM, Sony, Hershey and Colombian Coffee. He brought originality and flair to every project.

After retirement John pursued art with a passion, honing his sketching and painting skills at the Silvermine, Rowayton and Westport Arts Centers, and the Westport Senior Center. His work was often seen at local art shows.

He enjoyed the many activities activities Westport offers, including boating, tennis and golf at Longshore, and Old Mill and Compo Beaches.

John loved animals. He loved walking his rescue dog Bella around Compo Beach and Winslow Park. He was known and adored by both the humans and dogs who visited these spots.

John is survived by his wife of 57 years, Anita; his son Marco, daughter-in-law Elena, and beloved grandchildren Caroline and John; son Roman; sister Linda Brienza (Dr. Gene); sister-in-law Dolores Paliseno, and nieces and nephews.

John was filled with bluster and heart.  He was known for his humor and his legendary stories.

Donations in John’s memory can be made to the Westport Senior Center, 21 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT, 06880, or Homes With Hope, PO Box 631, Westport, CT, 06881.  A memorial service will be held in late summer.

John Caggiano

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The other day, Rindy Higgins gave herself a 72nd birthday present: a penguin mold.

Here’s the result, on the corner of Madeline Avenue and Harbor Road. At least, it looked like that a couple of days ago. It’s all melted now.

(Photo/Rindy Higgins)

Just wait. There’s a winter storm warning for tomorrow. An accumulation of 5 to 7 inches is forecast.

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Next up in the Westport Astronomical Society’s free virtual lecture series: “Mapping the Haystack While Finding the Needles: How Crowdsourcing Science is Solving Big Data Problems in Research.”

Dr. Lucy Fortson of the University of Minnesota speaks February 16 (8 p.m.). Click here for the link.

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And finally … in one of his most famous roles (“The Sound of Music”), Christopher Plummer’s voice was dubbed by Bill Lee. Here is a clip from that film, with his singing “Edelweiss” himself:

Roundup: Income Tax Help, Teachers Return, More

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Need help with taxes? (Besides having more money, that is.)

Westport’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program — free state and federal preparation — runs from now through April 15. IRS-certified preparers assist seniors and low- to moderate-income households, virtually or through a limited in-person scanning option. 

The national program is run locally by the Department of Human Services.

The virtual option provides uploading of  information via a secure encrypted site A specialist reviews and follows up for additional information as needed. Click here to participate.

The limited, on-site scanning capabilities at the Senior Center is offered Tuesdays (1 to 4 p.m.) and Thursdays (9 a.m. to noon). Participants complete a phone call to confirm what documentation is required to participate. Call 203-341-1071 for an appointment.

More than 700 returns were prepared and filed last year in Westport, with total refunds exceeding $350,000.

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Elementary school students have returned to full-time, in-person learning for the first time in 10 months.

Yesterday, the Kings Highway PTA welcomed teachers and staff with this sign:

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Last night’s full wolf moon was beautiful even with the naked eye.

If you were lucky enough to view it through the Westport Astronomical Society’s telescope at the Rolnick Observatory, it looked even more spectacular:

(Photo/Franco Fellah)

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Westporter Joshua Aronson — who teaches applied psychology at New York University — heads a panel on “The Anti-Racist Policy Agenda: Education” (February 4, 7:30 p.m., Zoom).

Along with educators and politicians, he’ll discuss racial disparities in the educational system, their political impact, and the future of educational equity in Connecticut.

Sponsors are the Democratic Women of Westport and the Staples Young Democrats. Click here to register. For more information, email dww06880@gmail.com.

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Work continues on the Beachside Avenue I-95 overpass. The bridge is now down to its skeleton. Renovation will continue for several months.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

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And finally … on this day in 1861, Kansas was admitted as the 34th state in the union.

Roundup: Academic All-Americans, Art Gallery, Ice Giants, More


For the 18th time in 20 years — and the 15th season in a row — the Staples boys soccer program has been honored with a national award for academic excellence.

And they did it with a record-setting GPA, one far beyond the already high standard.

A squad must have a 3.25 grade point average for all varsity players. The award is given for the previous academic year. In 2019, Staples’ varsity players had an average GPA of 3.76 — way higher than the previous record of 3.43.

The Academic All-America award is given by United Soccer Coaches, a 30,000-member national organization. The Wreckers’ coach, Dan Woog — hey, that’s me! — says indications are good that the 2020 squad should also qualify for  the honor.

The 2019 Academic All-American Staples boys soccer team. (Photo/Christina Bassler)


The arts scene in Westport just got even more interesting.

George Billis Gallery has relocated from New York City to Westport. The new space is 166 Main Street, next to Simon Pearce. It features work by national and international emerging and established artists.

When the gallery was established in1997, it was the 12th to open in the Chelsea Arts District. In 2004, Billis opened a 2nd location in the burgeoning art district of Culver City, Los Angeles.

Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment (203-557-9130). Click here for the website.

George Billis art gallery on Main Street.


It’s a new year, and our thoughts turn to … Uranus and Neptune.

On January 19 (8 p.m., Zoom and YouTube) the Westport Astronomical Society hosts a virtual lecture with Dr. Heidi B. Hammel. She’ll talk about a new concept to return spacecraft to explore the 2 “Ice Giants.”

This Dr. Hammel’s 3rd WAS appearance. A rock star in her world, she is vice president for science at AURA, which operates the Hubble Space Telescope and many other observatories. Click here for more information.


And finally … on this day in 1959, Alaska was admitted to the union, as our 49th state. The next year Johnny Horton sang the theme from the film “North to Alaska,” starring John Wayne, Ernie Kovacs and Fabian. Horton was killed in an
automobile accident the day after the movie was released.

Roundup: Accelerating Universe, Mozy Blanket, Knicks Memoir, More


You may not have heard of Alex Filippenko.

But astrophysicists have.

The University of California professor of astronomy is the only member of both teams that revealed the accelerating expansion of the universe, which led to a Nobel Prize. He’s been voted the Best Professor at Berkeley a record 9 times.

On December 15 (8 p.m.), he’ll visit the Westport Astronomical Society — virtually — for a free lecture on “A New Surprise in the Accelerating Universe.” It’s available on Zoom, and YouTube.


Mozy is a new member of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. The local company produces a “lower-body thermal wrap engineered to keep you 100% warmer than most blankets.”

It’s perfect for “game day, drinks on the deck or a sunset hike” — and the “BYOB” (Bring Your Own Blanket) outdoor dining initiative championed by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. Click here to buy online, or email for in-person pickup: hello@getthemozy.com.

A few Mozys.


The Strickland is a new website about the New York Knicks.

They just released their first book: “Fred From Fresh Meadows: A Knicks Memoir.” Author Fred is also from Westport. The 1971 Staples High School graduate is well known to “06880” readers as a frequent commenter on a variety of topics, a documentary filmmaker, an off-Broadway producer, and a keeper of the flame of local musicians like the Remains and Charlie Karp.

Fred’s Knick bona fides go back decades. He was at Madison Square Garden for the “Here comes Wilis!” game. He stayed up late the night before the SATs to watch a big game on the West Coast. In law school he chose where to live based on which neighborhood had a team cable TV package, then chose an apartment in Manhattan based in part on proximity to Madison Square Garden.

Along the way, Fred might have inadvertently caused Jerry Lucas to have one of the worst shooting nights of his playoff career, drove with Earl Monroe to a business meeting, and sort of sued Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to get revenge for Knicks fans.

Fred is a truly good guy. He’s donating 100% of the royalties from his pandemic project to the John Starks Foundation, which provides grants to college-bound high school seniors with academic excellence, financial need and a commitment to community service.

Click here to order. Click here for more information about Fred’s memoir.


During COVID, many folks are drinking alone. Now you can do it without shame — and with the knowledge you’re helping raise money for great causes.

The Westport Woman’s Club is sponsoring a “Swirl & Sip” wine-tasting fundraiser (Wednesday, December 9, 6 to 7 p.m.). For just $25, Castle Wine & Spirits is providing sparkling wines from Italy and Spain. Silver Ribbon donates the door prize: a $200 gift certificate.

Proceeds from the virtual event help fund grants to local non-profits, and need-based college scholarships. Cheers!

Click here for tickets and more information.


MoCA Westport’s Holiday Open House has been postponed from this Saturday to next (December 12, noon to 5 p.m.).

The outdoor event includes caroling by the Staples High School Orphenians, free admission to the World Peace exhibition, performances by teachers and students of the Westport School of Music, and a holiday-themed project for kids.

There’s free hot chocolate and doughnuts, and food trucks for purchases. There is no admission fee, but MoCA suggests bringing an unwrapped toy for the Westport Police Department’s annual drive.

 


And finally … in honor of the Westport Astronomical Society’s lecture on the expanding universe: