Tag Archives: Westport Downtown Association

Roundup: Shopping, MoCA Bar, Chimneys …

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The Westport Downtown Association hosts its second (of 3) Summer Outdoor Shopping Days tomorrow (Saturday, July 17, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

This isn’t the traditional “sidewalk sale.” But word on the (Main) Street is that some stores will offer great deals anyway.

Main and Elm Streets will be closed. There will be a food truck, bar and live music all day long.

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Luisa Francoeur writes:

I am an avid supporter of Sustainable Westport and a participant in the Food Scrap Recycling Program. The organization needs our help today. Friday, July 16 is the last day to contribute to the Zero Food Waste Grant challenge.

The program’s goal is raising $7,500. Each dollar raised will be doubled. This will allow Sustainable Westport to do so much more for our community. Donors will be entered to win a giveaway from one of the sponsors.

Our Food Scrap Recycling is working to decrease residential food waste by at least 25%. Close to 1 out of 4 bags of groceries are eventually thrown away. Food waste is one of the heaviest, wettest and most expensive types of trash for the town to incinerate.

If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the US.

Sustainable Westport has partnered with Earthplace and Wakeman Town Farm to transform Westport into a green community. The goal  is to become a Net Zero community by the year 2050, when the community has reduced its impacts across energy, water and waste so they are sustainably managed, using approaches that are economically viable, of social benefit, and environmentally responsible.”

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MoCA Westport is more than an art museum and educational center.

It’s now a full-service bar.

The Newtown Turnpike institution now serves custom cocktails, wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages.

But what’s a bar without Happy Hour? Starting July 22, they’ll throw one every Thursday (5 to 7 p.m.). There’s a new signature cocktail each week — plus free admission to the exhibition.

The bar at MoCA Westport.

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Speaking of downtown and beverages … “cool beans” dates back to “Full House.”

But it’s both a great expression, and a great way of describing the offerings at one of Westport’s favorite coffee shops.

Plus, this is just a very cool shot.

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Fred Cantor is one of “06880”‘s most alert readers.

And one of the most curious.

He sends this photo …

… and writes:

“This is not the first time I have seen a chimney left standing in a Westport teardown.

“There must be an important reason for taking down everything but the chimney. Perhaps some of your readers know the answer.

“Is it because chimneys are more difficult to build these days (since it involves brickwork that would not otherwise be used in the construction of a new house)?

“Or does it represent some kind of loophole in local regs with respect to teardowns that enables builders to do something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do if the chimney had been torn down?”

Perhaps there’s another explanation. If you have insights, click “Comments” below.

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As expected, I missed at least one Westport-connected Emmy nomination yesterday.

Staples High School 1974 graduate/former Player Sue Handman is up for her writing and narration on “Once Upon a City.” Good luck to all Westport nominees!

And while I noted that Staples High School Class of 1988 graduate Kerri Kenney-Silver is up for an award as Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for “Reno 911!”, she’s also nominated for an executive producer award for the same show. Kerri had 2 similar “Reno 911!” nominations in 2020.

Emmy Award

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John Porio grew up in the 1970s and ’80s with classic rock. He was pleased when his own kids — like himself, Staples High School students — got involved with the School of Rock.

Then he did too. He met some fellow musicians there, and did a couple of adult shows.

Now they’ve formed their own band. They’re having fun — and raising funds for Homes for the Brave. Since 2002, the Bridgeport organization has provided housing, vocational education and life skills training to over 1,200 veterans.

John’s band — Gold Dust — performed on Memorial Day weekend. On July 24 (4-9 p.m.), they’ve got a bigger gig. The venue is a group member’s property at 399 Center Street in Easton. There’s a barn, patio and big lawn — perfect for any rock show.

Gold Dust includes Westporters Jeffery and Laurie Gross, and Leila Jones Shields. They’ll perform after the School of Rock band. The public is invited.

Gold Dust

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This week’s Westport Garden Club #FridayFlowers arrangement has a special place in “06880”‘s heart: It was made for last night’s “blog party,” at Compo Beach.

And — if I do say so myself — the flowers that graced a picnic table last night was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!

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A celebration of the life of David Tarqueno will be held this Saturday (July 17, 2 p.m., St. Luke Church). The Staples High School graduate — an avid fisherman and nature lover — died in December, from complications of COVID-19. He was 61.

David Tarqueno

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Paul Delano writes: “The bee balm flowers in my garden bloomed recently. They’re now are attracting hummingbirds.”

Indeed they are. But what’s as remarkable as this “Westport … Naturally” show of nature is that Paul could capture it so well. Hummingbirds are tough to photograph — they sure can fly!

(Photo/Paul Delano)

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And finally … the incomparable Darlene Love headlines tonight’s benefit show at the Levitt Pavilion. There’s a reason she’s on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Singers. And in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

 

Roundup: June Snow, Safety Fence, Downtown Lights …

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That old saying about New England weather — if you don’t like it, wait a minute — is spot on. Still, it doesn’t usually snow in June.

If you’re Netflix, you make it happen. For a couple of weeks, a crew has filmed “The Noel Diary” in a residential neighborhood. It’s a Christmas (as in 2022) movie, so a bit of ingenuity is needed.

Here was one scene, yesterday. I’m sure it will look more realistic 18 months from now.

On screen, and in real life.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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Meanwhile, summer is actually almost here. That means more folks walking, jogging, biking and driving past the former Positano restaurant on Hillspoint Road.

For over a year, permit violations have halted construction on what was to be a private residence. The building — half-finished, swathed in blue, surrounded by weeds — has become a neighborhood eyesore.

A security fence now encloses the property. That makes it safer.

But now it looks worse than ever.

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

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The Westport Downtown Association’s GoFundMe campaign was a success.

The organization has installed more lights along Church Lane — including the Patagonia and Urban Outfitters buildings.

Next on the lights list: Main Street.

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Jim Hood lives on Compo Beach. Is that where his dog learned to swim? Or does it just paddle instinctively? Who cares? Here’s today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/Jim Hood)

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And finally … today is Flag Day. Long may she wave, proudly and brave!

 

Lighting Up Main Street

Lights! Action!

One follows the other. And if one group has its way, there will soon be more lights down.

With more action sure to follow.

The Westport Downtown Association’s newest project is “Light Up Main Street.” The idea is to continue the string lights — currently on Church Lane — all the way down Main Street.

Speaking of action: Josh Allen and Robert Cornield have offered to match up to $2,500 for any donations made.

Church Lane lights.

They’re parents who have each spent the last 12-plus years raising their families here, and supporting the community however they can.

From Coleytown, Greens Farms, Bedford and Staples schools, to Wakemen Town Farm, Little League baseball, DARE, Catch A Lift and other interests close to this town’s heart, both love this town.

Now they turn their eyes downtown.

Josh — who sits on the Westport Downtown Association –and Robert say,
“Tremendous progress has been made downtown, and there is no letting up.  With the continued beautification of Church Lane with ornamental baskets and hanging lights, live music on the weekends and outdoor dining, there is a desire by local merchants and community members to have this atmosphere flow right into Main Street.

“Bright lights always bring joy and happiness.  However making these improvements comes with a cost. We’ll match up to $2,500 for any donations made to lighting up Main Street.”

The Westport Downtown Association hopes many Westporters will “contribute to the continued beautification of our town, and feel a part of this positive change. The sense of community will be enhanced as we continue to make our surroundings more welcoming to all.”

To contribute and learn more, click here.

Fine Arts Festival Debuts Downtown

Early rain kept crowds low, when the 48th annual Westport Fine Arts Festival opened this morning downtown.

But the showers stopped, the temperature rose, and traffic is picking up at the Westport Downtown Association event.

The show runs today (Saturday) until 5 p.m., and tomorrow 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Artists on displya includes painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood, graphics and print making.

There’s music, food, and plenty of activities for children. Plus: It’s nowhere near as hot as the usual mid-July oven!

Click here for more details.

Eric Heitmann of Hopewell Junction, New York was ready this morning, on the Post Road near Main Street. When the rain let up, he displayed more of his nature-oriented work. (Photo/John Karrel)

Fine Arts Festival Returns Next Weekend

Last year, the Westport Downtown Association moved its Fine Arts Festival from mid-July to Memorial Day weekend. The goal was more pleasant weather than the traditional bake-on-the-asphalt date, along with a holiday kickoff to summer.

It didn’t happen. COVID canceled the nearly-50-year-old event.

But the Westport Fine Arts Festival returns this year. It’s set for next weekend: May 29 and 30 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

And — quite by accident — it’s more than just the first townwide event of the season. It’s also the first big gathering since the lifting of most major COVID restrictions.

A scene from the 2019 Fine Arts Festival. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The 48th annual Fine Arts Festival draws artists from across the country to Main Street. Their works are available for sale at a wide range of prices.

The WDA is making this all-are-welcome show as local possible. All artists will receive gift cards to use at local restaurants and cafes.

There’s live music, and food from Don Memo and Walrus Alley. Children can take selfies at 3 murals painted specially for the festival by MoCA Westport, the Artists’ Collective of Westport and One River. The (very apt) theme of the murals is “New Beginnings.”

It’s a new beginning indeed. For a very old, and cherished, tradition.

Saugatuck Students And Art: It’s Elementary!

Austin Charise is a 5th grader at Saugatuck Elementary School. His sister Ashley is in 4th grade there. 

They created 2 graet projects they want to share with “06880” readers. As you read about them, you’ll realize: Our future is in good hands. Austin writes:

The first project was an effort to allow student artists to have their art seen and appreciated.

During COVID, I had a lot more stress. Art was a great way to help take my mind off things, but I really wanted to be able to share my art with others (and maybe even sell it!).

Because we were trying to limit electronics during COVID as much as possible, selling online wasn’t really an option, so I had the idea to get a booth with my sister at the Westport Fine Arts Festival May 29 and 30. We went a few years ago and really loved it.

We’ve had the idea since then. But we learned the festival is a serious show. You have to be invited!

Ashley and Austin Charise, and their art.

But the committee thought that if a local company sponsored a student artist booth, we might be able to make our idea happen. We worked with the Westport Downtown Association and my parents’ local businesses to sponsor an art booth for young artists.

Any Westport elementary school student can enter their art for exhibit and sale at the show. We’ve already arranged for the tent and have been able to borrow the exhibit panels from Mr. Miggs Burroughs with the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center!

The second project is one my whole family is working on. We are saving money to be able to build a school in Malawi, but it is quite expensive. My sister agreed to help raise part of the money in order to be able to do it. So, we put the 2 ideas together.

Student artists can pay a $20 exhibit fee for each piece of art they want to show. They also can name the price they would like for their art piece. If the art sells, they receive 80% of the proceeds and 20% will also go towards charity. All the money raised from entry fees and the sales percentage will go toward the charity BuildOn.

Students can submit art via this link (click here). The art and $20 entry fee (cash or check) can be submitted to 39 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT 06880. Venmo: @ChristyCharise.

Questions? Email christy.charise@nm.com, or call 917-414-8599.

Roundup: Car Thefts, Downtown, Melissa Bernstein …

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Lock your cars doors! Even — especially — in your driveway!

That’s the advice (it should be a command) from the Westport Police Department.

Four vehicles have been stolen here since Saturday. All 4 times, the doors were unlocked — and the keys were left in the cars.

Police have also responded to 15 vehicle break-ins in the past 6 days. Items were stolen from all cars — and again, the doors were unlocked.

The department reminds residents to lock all cars, and bring keys inside. Take valuables out of your car for the night too — cash, purses, wallets and electronics. It’s a good idea too to keep outside lights on, and motion lights activated.

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“Westport Downtown Merchants Association” was always a mouthful.

So chew on this: The organization has a new name.

From now on, it’s the “Westport Downtown Association.”

Sleeker. More inclusive. And it does not sound like it’s a radio station (WDMA).

But, the WDA says, they’ll still enhance the downtown experience for shoppers, diners and other visitors.

And they’ll still work with business owners, landlords — and merchants! — to improve the commerce and culture of downtown Westport.

Their website is http://www.westportdowntown.com. As easy to remember as it is to shop and dine.

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Since going public about her battle with existential anguish and depression, Melissa Bernstein has been interviewed by every major American media outlet.

Tonight (Thursday, May 6) she talks to a different audience: her neighbors.

Former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox News anchor Dave Briggs — also a Westporter — interviews the Melissa & Doug toy company co-founder today, on Instagram Live.

Melissa will talk about her life, and LifeLines: the project she and her husband Doug have created, to educate and empower people. The conversation is particularly apt now; May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

It’s available tonight at 8 p.m. on Instagram Live (@Westport Magazine). You can ask questions during the segment, or send them now: DM @DaveBriggsTV.

Melissa Bernstein

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Anne Craig no longer reports the news for Fox 5 New York and Channel 8 New Haven. She’s concentrating on her family, here in Westport.

But she continues to make must-see videos. (Remember this one on the yarn bomber?)

Now — right before Mother’s Day — she turns her camera on another inspiring local mom.

Rosie Jon is an outstanding artist who overcame what could be a major obstacle: She was born without arms.

Rosie is upbeat, optimistic, and very talented. Click below to enjoy Anne’s great tribute:

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Neighbors and Newcomers of Westport is one of the town’s great — and greatly unknown — organizations.

Far from a “welcome wagon” — longtime residents are as welcome as recent arrivals — it’s a fun, active group. Members enjoy clam bakes, coffees, holiday parties, kayaking, barbecues, happy hours, wine tastings and TGIF get-togethers.

They play canasta. They go hiking and to movies. There is a book club, culinary group and luncheon club. There are trips to museums, baby and toddler play groups, and girls’ nights out.

Well, they did all that before COVID. The pandemic forced every activity onto Zoom, or hiatus.

But as Westport opens up, the group is returning to in-person events. “With the energy of spring in the air, we are trying our best to serve our community,” they say. “We will of course continue to follow town guidelines in all activities.”

The first monthly event is tomorrow (Friday, May 7, noon): lunch outdoors at Arezzo.

In the works: Book Club (May 27, 7 p.m.), kayaking, and free Pure Barre classes for members.

Click here to learn more. Click here for the Facebook page; For membership information, email membershipnnwestport@gmail.com. For other questions, email presidentnnwestport@gmail.com.

Neighbors & Newcomers enjoy a hike.

 

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Calling all young artists!

Westport Public Art Collections seeks submissions from K-12 students for the 2021-22 school calendar. That’s the one that hangs in every kitchen. It lists all school events — and is decorated handsomely with student art.

Drawings, paintings, photos and computer-generated graphics will be considered (landscape orientation, please).

Artwork scanned at high res (600 dpi — JPG or PDF format file) or a good photo can be mailed to WestportSchoolCalendar@gmail.com. Include the student’s name, email, school and grade. Keep the original art, in case a re-scan is needed.

The deadline is May 28. Click here for more details, and to preorder a calendar.

The cover of the 2020-21 Westport Public Schools calendar was drawn by Sophia Sheng, Coleytown Elementary School 5th grader.

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Bedford Middle School 8th grader Ryan Tzou learned yesterday he was a winner in the Women’s History Month essay contest.

He found out in a great way: State Representative Stephanie Thomas surprised him during social studies class.

“Ryan told the triumphant story of his grandmother, a Chinese immigrant who experienced countless obstacles in her life that she never let hinder her dreams and goals,” Thomas said. “Ryan’s love and admiration for his grandmother poured through the carefully constructed words in his essay, which made it both inspirational and heart-warming to read.”

Ryan Tzou with State Representative Stephanie Thomas (left) and Bedford Middle School social studies teacher Gabrielle Tripuzzi. He holds a citation for his essay.

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The other day, “06880” reported on Staples High 9th grader Cameron Mann’s current gig: He’s part of HBO Max’s “Mare of Easttown” cast.

Three years ago he was part of a 2018 workshop: “The Secret Garden.” Presented for top Broadway professionals and theatre owners, it was directed by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, and starred notable actors.

The production is being streamed tonight (Thursday, May 6), and will be available on demand May 7-9. Proceeds go to the Dramatists Guild Foundation and The Actors Fund. Click here for details.

Cameron Mann

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Two photos. Call them “Beauty and the Beast”?

First: Spring colors continue to dazzle Westport:

(Photo/Rowene Weems Photography)

Next: Fertilization project underway at Compo Beach:

(Photo/Les Dinkin)

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And finally … on this day in 1954, Roger Bannister became the first human being to run a mile in under 4 minutes (3:59.4).

At least 2 Westport runners (Steve Wheeler and Henry Wynne) have beaten Bannister’s record.

The current world record is 3:43.13, by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco. Who knew?!

 

 

 

Roundup: Memorial Day Grand Marshal, Beach Stickers, Church Lane …

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Plans are underway for a traditional Memorial Day parade. And there’s no better tradition than the grand marshal.

This year’s honor goes to Nicholas Rossi. The 98-year-old World War II veteran has captured the hearts of Westporters since moving here several years ago, to live with his son, daughter-in-law and 3 grandchildren.

The Oyster Bay, Long Island native was a 4-sport (football, basketball, baseball, track) high school athlete.

After graduation in 1940, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. His flight crew was part of the 305th Bombardment Group of the 364th Squadron, assigned to the 8th Air Force Bomber Command in England. A technical sergeant, Rossi flew multiple bombing missions as a B-17 gunner over occupied central Europe.

He was discharged in March 1945, but remained in Liege, Belgium after the war. As a civilian, he was employed by the government to work with the American Graves Registration Command, locating and identifying unrecovered dead military personnel.

Rossi married in 1956 and raised 5 children (Paul, Christine, Caren, Carla and Peter) in the house he built in Mill Neck, New York. Since moving to Westport, he has gotten involved in the town. When his grandchildren were at Staples High School, he attended their many plays, concerts and athletic events.

Congratulations, Mr. Rossi, on this great honor. See you at the parade!

Nicholas Rossi

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This is the week for everyone to enjoy Compo and Old Mill Beaches.

Next Saturday (May 1), parking stickers (“emblems”) are required to enter. For Burying Hill Beach, the date is May 29.

Click here to log in; choose “Memberships,” then type “Vehicle” in the search box. Parking emblems may take a week to 10 days to arrive by mail.

Forgot your login and/or password? Email recreation@westportct.gov or call 203-341-5152.

This driver has plenty of beach stickers.

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Church Lane is once again closed for outdoor dining. And the Westport Downtown Association is doing its part to make the area even more alluring.

They’re producing 40 nights of dinner music, starting April 30. Every Friday and Saturday, from 6 to 9 p.m., area musicians will play. They’re paying gigs. Funds come from sponsorships, and a GoFundMe page.

The WDA will also add lights, outlining details on the Patagonia building and beyond.

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Jeff Seaver waited in line this morning, for the hazardous waste drop-off at the Greens Farms railroad station.

He was not alone. There were 70 cars in line.

But the line moved quickly, Jeff says. “Volunteers worked their tails off. Westport at its best.”

They collected a lot of waste. Which means there’s a lot that is no longer hazardous, at home.

(Photo/Jeff Seaver)

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Folks are buzzing about Wakeman Town Farm’s next event (May 8, 12 noon, Zoom). It’s “The Wonderful World of Honeybees” — a look at why they’re essential, and the microcosm that is the hive.

Shelby Schulman studied environmental science and anthropology at the University of North Carolina. Her introduction to bees came as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea.

As WTF notes, “bees are behind a third of all the food we eat, including fruits, vegetables, chocolate, nuts and coffee.” Click here for tickets ($10).

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Westporter Ken Goldberg owns AFC Urgent Care, a walk-in medical center near the Department of Motor Vehicles in Norwalk.

They do COVID testing (PCR and rapid); they take most all insurances, and they have a doctor who does a brief telemed screening beforehand. Patients then come to be swabbed in their car.

AFC Urgent Care also provides Moderna vaccines. Appointments can be made easily and directly, by phone (203-845-9100). Click here for more information.

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“06880” has followed the saga of 19 Soundview Drive — the century-old home that evaded the wrecking ball this spring (though there are rumors it may still be demolished in the fall).

Yesterday, Patricia McMahon spotted this sign on the house. Whatever happens to the property, someone has a great sense of humor.

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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There’s always something to smile about at Compo Beach. Here’s Erica Davis’ message for the day:

(Photo/Amy Saperstein)

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And finally … Les McKeown, lead singer for the Bay City Rollers, died on Tuesday. He was 65. (Hat tip: Amy Schneider)